Professor Anne-Marie Hede, who has researched how and why people engage with Anzac Day ceremonies, says unique Driveway at Dawn commemorations in 2020 could reignite participation and interest in the day.
Professor Hede, and co-author Associate Professor Maree Thyne from the University of Otago in New Zealand, collected data in 2015 (the year of Anzac Day Centenary) from more than 1000 people in Australia and New Zealand.
Men more likely than women to attend events
About half were attending various Anzac Day events, the other half were telecast viewers. The analysis showed men were more likely to attend events, and women more likely to watch those events on TV.
‘Family togetherness’ and wanting to be with people who had similar interests were the strongest motivators for people to attend the events. Those watching on TV were more strongly motivated to watch a telecast because they enjoyed observing the people attending these events:
“The responses indicated that attending an Anzac Day event is not just a commemoration – it is also is a social activity; an experience to be shared with others.”
The study showed that about 80% of people who attended ceremonies had attended past Anzac Day events, and boosting the number of first-time participants would be necessary to sustain these ceremonies and events into the future, she said.
2020 commemorations could renew interest
Anzac Day commemorations and attendance were strong between 2014 to 2018 (World War I centenary years), but the way of marking Anzac Day in 2020 has the capacity to ignite a new and contemporary interest in it for the 21st century, according to Professor Hede.
For example, women, who are more likely to stay at home and watch a telecast, now have an opportunity to be part of the event with their families, and perhaps their neighbours, rather than experience it on TV, she said.
“On Anzac Day 2020, the Last Post will be heard via an app. And trumpeters young and old, including James Morrison, will be unexpectedly part of the day’s events around the nation. Hashtags will promote images of people commemorating and enjoying the connections they make in a time of social-distancing. And finally, gunfire breakfasts will have never tasted better.”
Professor Anne-Marie Hede is Dean of Graduate Research and a marketing researcher in VU's Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities.