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Hunter students to honour families of service members


The Hunter Combined Schools Anzac Service will focus on the theme, We Who Remember – Families of those who have served and sacrificed, in 2023.

The event, which brings together students from public, Catholic and independent education establishments across the region, is set to take place at Civic Theatre on 4 April, thanks to renewed major sponsorship from City of Newcastle (CN) and the Newcastle Permanent Building Society.

Created by pupils for a young audience, the service – nationally-recognised as unique – incorporates drama and music alongside the traditional elements of an Anzac ceremony.

In 2023, the extravaganza is turning its attention to integrating the experiences of legacy and legatees, as well as other family narratives.

Event coordinator Michael Voorbij said the theme, launched at St Philip’s Christian College, would enable students from throughout the Hunter to develop an appreciation of the families’ perspective of veterans’ service and sacrifice.

“We’re thrilled our sponsors are supporting the chosen direction,” he added.

Cr Peta Winney-Bartz said Newcastle had a strong military heritage.

“It’s important to acknowledge sacrifices have been made, not only from individual service personnel but also their families,” she explained.

Also, in attendance at the launch, Newcastle Permanent’s chief customer experience delivery officer Paul Juergens acknowledged the importance of the theme for the 2023 service, which marks 21 years of continued sponsorship from the financial institution.

“In order to begin researching the topic, Year 11 students from Merewether High School, St Francis Xavier Campus, Callaghan College Jesmond Senior Campus and St Philip’s Christian College attended presentations by Legacy Newcastle and Dr Heather Sharpe, war historian from the University of Newcastle,” Mr Voorbij said.

“They have also met with members of the Newcastle War Widows Association to learn about their lived experiences as families of service members.”

The 2023 service will be presented by student leaders from several high schools across the region, with drama performances from the Catholic Schools’ ASPIRE program.

The Hunter Singers Choir and Hunter Wind Ensemble will also be featured in the event, which is free for schools to attend.

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