Stories of service and sacrifice may cause distress.
See this resource list for help.

Review of operations

The following review of operations summarises activities undertaken by the Shrine of Remembrance in pursuit of its enduring purpose—to honour the service and sacrifice of Victorians and Australians in war, conflict, peacemaking and peacekeeping—in the 2022–23 financial year.


The prescribed functions of the Shrine of Remembrance Trustees are controlled and directed through a comprehensive range of interrelated governance and planning instruments. A five-year strategic plan informs programming and marketing strategies; and an annual business plan and budget direct and enable aligned actions and initiatives. The following review of operations summarises activities undertaken by the Shrine of Remembrance in pursuit of its enduring purpose—to honour the service and sacrifice of Victorians and Australians in war, conflict, peacemaking and peacekeeping—in the 2022–23 financial year.

Corporate Services

The Corporate Services team carries responsibility for corporate governance and compliance, finance, HR and facility maintenance. It works closely with the Office of CEO, Visitor Experience and Public Programs teams and external parties to protect and maintain the Shrine. Significant project and improvement work completed in the year include:  

Finance and Governance

  •  internal audits of Cyber Security and Fraud and Corruption. 
  • continued implementation of the Victorian Government Procurement Board Framework. 
  • Town planning in relation to local development projects and signage impacting the Shrine Vista Controls.

Human Resources

  • design and implementation of new training register,
  • coordination of significant increases in both compliance and development training,
  • design and implementation of new performance and development plan form to assist with employee performance evaluation.


  • changeover of Galleries cleaning lights to LED technology, to reduce energy costs and increase visibility for cleaning at night,
  • installation and implementation of new phone system, 
  • implementation of external IT support Help Desk, 
  • installation of new boiler plant,
  • implementation of measures to protect collection from Galleries water leaks, 
  • implementation of disability access audit recommendations, 
  • quinquennial review of emergency management plan,
  • capital works project—Light Tower Restoration,
  • capital works project—Monument Steps Restoration,
  • capital works project—Accessible Forecourt Ramp,
  • capital works project—Hostile Vehicle Mitigation.

Public Programs

Shrine Collection

The Shrine continues to collect selectively for display. Our current collection priority areas include capturing the experience of all service personnel from Vietnam to the present day, personal letters, diaries, audio-visual records and mementoes relating to recent conflicts. Further development in these areas will enhance the overall collection and further reflect the diversity of the Australian and Victorian experience, at war and on the homefront.

Acquisition highlights include:

  • Medal group awarded to John Sonneveld (including the only Distinguished Flying Cross awarded to an Australian Army pilot flying a Kiowa during the Vietnam War).
  • Contemporary paintings of service by Sean Burton and Sue Jarvis.
  • A collection of oil paintings, watercolours, charcoal drawings and personal papers pertaining to war artist Murray Griffin.
  • 2/4th Anti-tank Regiment funeral pall. 
  • Second World War military band tuba owned by Harold Martin of the 2/21st Infantry Battalion “Gull Force” Band. 

Shrine Exhibitions

The special exhibition program this year featured two award winning exhibitions: Lust Love Loss won a state Australian Museum and Galleries Association (AMaGA) award for best temporary exhibition in 2022. Our final Identity themed exhibition, Defending with Pride- Stories of LGBTQ+ service, won a National AMaGA award for best temporary exhibition in 2023.

Lust Love Loss — The complex issues surrounding relationships during wartime were explored in this visually stunning exhibition. Through artworks, photography, and personal objects the exhibition explored the issues of love, lust and loss for both service personnel and loved ones at home. The exhibition was supported by a series of conversations with contemporary couples on their own experiences juggling relationships and careers in defence. Exhibition closed in November 2022.

Defending with Pride — This special exhibition is the first of its kind at an Australian War Memorial. It explores the history of lesbian, gay, transgender and queer people in service. The centrepiece of the exhibition are the personal stories of veterans and current serving ADF personnel. Supporting these very personal stories are objects and memorabilia reflecting the often-turbulent history of this community. The exhibition is also supported by a podcast series: Defending with Pride Voices.

For Kin and Country — The history of First People’s service in the Australian Defence Force. This exhibition remained on display throughout the year. The veterans featured come from Countries that lie in the modern state of Victoria, as well as individuals from other areas making Victoria their home. Using portraits sourced from veterans and their families, the Australian War Memorial, Koorie Heritage Trust and the Shrine’s own collection, images are displayed in country groupings. Supported by a series of interviews with veterans and families, we get a sense of the impact of service on families and individuals.

Tours De Force — this exhibition explores for the first time the work of the Forces Entertainment Unit. This unit fosters connections between the Australian Defence Force and the entertainment industry by recruiting, promoting and preparing entertainers to work in foreign war zones. The exhibition holds a wealth of material from rare photo and video footage to personal memorabilia from the entertainers themselves. The generosity of the participating entertainers extended to a live panel presentation to launch the exhibition.

Changed Forever: Legacies of Conflict — This touring exhibition has presented its incredible stories on the impact of conflict on veterans and refugees to 17 Victorian venues over the past three years. It concludes its run in December 2023 with many of the stories to be incorporated within our permanent galleries from 2024.

Student Education

The Shrine’s student education programs are aligned with the national curriculum and engage students onsite and offsite in learning about commemoration, wartime history and the shaping of the Australian nation. 

Education programming in 2022–23 returned to prepandemic levels. Onsite visits were enjoyed by over 50,000 students, including 3,350 students on Legacy Student Day. Demand for outreach grew with 608 regional students participating, including special education schools, who have not visited since 2019. We continued to offer the virtual tour for regional and remote schools.

Activities for Families

We engaged families in a combination of self-guided and guided activities. The Explorer Kits for loan returned along with the Shrine Kids activity cards. These remain our always available options. 

A highlight in school holiday programming was the reprised Flowers of War activity for families. Families decorated a floral template and placed it on a wreath on display in the Visitor Centre.  

Public Learning Program

The Shrine maintained its commitment to provide community education of the highest standard. Public presentations and special events engaged members of the community in Melbourne and in regional Victoria through talks, workshops, and lectures. This year, our highlight event was the Tours De Force Live show to launch the exhibition Tours de Force. Hosted by comedian Merrick Watts, celebrities Tom Gleeson, Charlie Pickering, Little Pattie, Normie Rowe, Ami Williamson, Nick Cody and Lehmo chatted about their experiences of entertaining troops. In the words of an attendee, “A unique group of entertainers bought a much needed burst of humour." 

Other events held this year included a panel conversation as part of Midsumma Festival programming, tied with our exhibition Defending with Pride; two live performances—The Mission by First Nations performer Tom Molyneux and a diary recitation, Dispatches from the Frontline. Book talks from Dr Ross McMullin, Andrew Quilty, Commodore Peter Scott and Dr Bronwen Hughes and two film screenings, A Foreign Field and The Waler, completed the year. 

Digital Production

Digital programming continued in support of our broader engagement options in 2022–23. Our work with broadcaster Megan Spencer, continued with podcasts for the Defending with Pride exhibition. Other podcasts released during the year included For Kin and Country—Yarns, hosted by Tom Molyneux, two episodes created from the Tours De Force Live performances and a behind the scenes interview about the Forces Entertainment unit.

Video productions this year featured a variety of short and long form styles. Highlights were Restoring Shrine Memories, a focus on the Crypt Casket restoration; In Pursuit of Peace—expert reflections on the hope for peace in the world; and a series of interviews with descendants of Korean War veterans. A video for International Women’s Day featuring female Shrine Guard, gathered the most views for social media content. 

Remembrance digital magazine was released in November 2022 and continues to build its presence with increasing numbers of reads, impressions and average read time.


Shrine volunteers demonstrated their ongoing commitment to the Shrine by supporting schools and visitor engagement activities with energy and enthusiasm. Volunteers enjoyed four luncheons throughout the year. Ray of Light expert Frank Johnston was the guest speaker at the February gathering. National Volunteer Week 2023 featured intimate daily lunches for volunteers at the Shrine, a small gift and café coffee on the house.  Recruitment of new volunteers is now done on a rolling basis when applications come in, with five new volunteers welcomed into the group this year.  

The Shrine Young Ambassadors

The Shrine Young Ambassador program provides an opportunity for up to 10 students in Years 9/10 to participate in programs and commemorative events at the Shrine and to develop leadership skills. This year we have nine Young Ambassadors, and we acknowledge their contributions in 2023.

Visitor Engagement


There was steady growth in onsite visitation throughout FY2023. Domestic markets have returned to prepandemic levels and growth in internationals is returning as airline capacity increases. This has reinvigorated self-funding activities with overall performance significantly improved. Indications are positive for a return to pre-pandemic visitation levels in the next 18–24 months. Our success in growing onsite and digital programming allowed us to reach more than 1.2 million audience engagements in FY2023. 

Ceremonial Program

Providing for the commemorative needs of veterans and the community is one of the Shrine’s primary functions: some 75,000 people participated in 192 commemorative services at the Shrine. Live streaming of all commemorative services continues to be an effective way of engaging with audiences and ensuring commemoration is accessible for all. 

Last Post Service

The Last Post Service (LPS) successfully delivered on its aims with both veteran participants and attendees reporting positive engagement and feedback. Participation at the weekly Service has been steady with 200 people on average joining us on the Second World War Memorial Forecourt at 4.45pm on Sundays. The LPS is integrated in the Shrine’s Public Program Strategy. Several special exhibitions and other educational programs were successfully linked to commemorative services providing important value add to the event.

Anzac Day

The Dawn Service and Veterans’ March were delivered under a different model in 2022–2023 with the RSL adopting primary event planning, promotion and management responsibility. 

More than 40,000 pilgrims joined together in the Dawn Service on the Shrine’s Second World War Memorial Forecourt in shared remembrance. Attendance was down on the prior year which benefitted from a post-pandemic surge in community engagement. Onsite attendance across the day, including the RSL’s commemorative service, exceeded 50,000 and over 9,000 entered the Shrine monument.

Remembrance Day

The historic tradition of honouring service and sacrifice on 11 November, again proved successful with postpandemic commitment to live participation evident with more than 1,500 attending. 

The Victorian Government continued its valued support for delivery of Remembrance Day, allowing a broad and diverse audience to engage, including veterans and members of the Australian Defence Force, school students and the public. The Shrine activated a rich programming schedule (11 Days of Remembrance) leading up to Remembrance Day. This consolidated online engagement and drew additional views of the service.

Legacy's Annual Anzac Commemoration Ceremony for Students

The Melbourne Legacy Students' Service on April 5, 2023 was attended by more than 3,000 students. The service featured student guest speakers, school bands, choirs and Australian Defence Force cadets. 

Victorian Aboriginal Remembrance Service

As part of National Reconciliation Week, services are held across Australia in May each year to commemorate the service of Indigenous Australians in the Australian Defence Force. The annual service in 2023 was successful with numerous guest speakers and musical performances. The service was well attended with more than 300 onsite and strong digital engagement via live stream. 

Friends of the Shrine Program

The Friends program directly engages members through Friends socials, public programs, special exhibition launch invitations and priority seating at major services. Friends also receive advance editions of the Shrine magazine, Remembrance.

Retail and Tours

A return to normal operations led to strong visitation and commercial performance. Engagement improved steadily across the year. Retail recorded its highest level of annual revenue, exceeding financial targets and tour sales performed strongly—also exceeding financial targets. Tour licensing revenue improved consistently, and the Shrine Tour performed well to budget. 


Once again, the Shrine was pleased to partner and host events supporting our community. This included a veteran led concert associated with March for Art — part of ANVAM’s annual program, and the community celebration for the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Day in June. Venue hire and events improved with annual budgets exceeded through delivery of a diverse range of events. 


The Shrine Foundation attracted significant support through a range of fundraising activities: attracting bequests and donations, and gaining support from philanthropists personally committed to remembrance. 


Visitor research was conducted during the year to gain insights into both visitors and non-visitors. The Shrine uses Morris Hargreaves McIntyre's 'Culture Segments', a psychographic profiling system, to better understand and connect with audiences amenable to arts and culture. Brand awareness of the Shrine of Remembrance has lifted significantly since the last research period (2018), increasing the size of the potential market. Research also found that whilst most people expect their visit to the Shrine to be ''good or absolutely excellent''—80 per cent considered their visit, ''better than expected'', with staff and volunteer interactions rated very highly.

The Shrine's special exhibition program, supported with individual marketing campaigns, is a key driver of visitation. Individual campaigns encompassing owned, shared and paid media were conducted for Defending with Pride, For Kin and Country and Tours de Force— the latter receiving front page coverage in The Age Sunday edition on opening weekend.

Major remembrance services provided key moments to attract and reach large audiences both onsite and online. The introduction of a Last Post Service acknowledging War Animal Remembrance Day provided opportunities for new audiences and their furry friends to participate in remembrance, supported by network news coverage.

Personal recommendations remain a key source of information for visitors, with significant growth in visitors who have seen, read or heard about the Shrine on social media. The Shrine maintained a high presence in tourism publications including the Official Visitor Guide and Map. 

A new visitor guide was developed to highlight the layered experience of a Shrine visit featuring a commissioned illustration that highlights the Shrine's visitor journey in an inviting and relatable manner.

For a second year, a major outdoor destination campaign positioned the Shrine as, 'Unforgettable’. Placements across large format outdoor advertising, digital and social media, and regional press contributed to a significant boost in onsite visitation in the lead up to Anzac Day.

Digital engagement remained a key focus of marketing activity throughout the year. The website hosted over 260,000 sessions. Live streaming of the Shrine's commemorative services continued, receiving 200,000 video views. Social media activity across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn saw our social media following increase by 10 per cent, with a combined organic and paid reach of 5.6 million.