Reserve Forces Day 1998
The Inaugural Parades were held in 1998 in 12 cities throughout Australia. The parades included 18,000 past and 4,000 present members of the Reserve Forces together with unit equipment and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the re raising of the CMF/Army Reserve and recognised part time service with the RAN, Army and RAAF. Many members in their 80s from the pre WWII Militia marched as well. The US at its expense supported the day by sending 90 Reservists from its four services to take part in the Sydney and Brisbane parades.
The day recognised the value of part time service to the Nation. Approximately 1.25M men and women have served part time in the forces since 1948. Sir Winston Churchill used the term “Twice the Citizen” to describe those who served in the national interest as members of the volunteer defence forces, doing so concurrently with their civilian occupation or studies. The day was also used to thank employers and partners for their essential support. Another objective was to raise the profile of the current Reserve Forces within Australia thereby assisting with recruiting and support.
The day exceeded all of its objectives and the decision was then taken to run the day annually. Volunteer committees in conjunction with the services in all-participating cities and country towns run the Day. It is an approved event under the Department of Veterans' Affairs “Their Service Our Heritage” programme. The Governor General, a past RAAF Reservist, is the Patron in Chief of the Reserve Forces Day Council with all State Governors and the Northern Territory Administrator agreeing to be patrons. One of the key elements of the day is to gain community support so that it is not seen as just another military parade or function but a broad based community supported activity. To ensure this aim is achieved high profile civilians now chair the State and National Committees. The National Chairman is Sir Roden Cutler VC AK KCMG KCVO CBE.