Head of Campus Update – 15 November 2018

The importance of remembrance….

Last weekend we reflected on the centenary of Armistice and it was indeed, a pleasure to share a moment as a community to reflect on the service and sacrifice shown by Australians of earlier generations, specifically the Great War of 1914-1918. Our service was a touching one, led by our boys who paid tribute to their forebears in a thoughtful manner.

Fair Dinkum is not a term we hear much today but lately it has had some use in the popular press as pundits debate who is or isn’t fair dinkum in our Federal parliament. It seems to be a regular inclusion also in the vernacular of our new Prime Minister.

By definition the term, fair dinkum has been colloquially used to emphasise the truth of somebody, indicating that they are straight and can be trusted with their authenticity. Recently, in my own reading of history, I was reminded of the special place this term has in the Australian vernacular in Australian War Correspondent of World War 1, CEW Bean’s description of the waves of young men who enlisted in the 1st AIF during World War One.

In the words of the great Australian writer, Bean suggests that the Australians who rushed at the chance of adventure the moment the recruiting lists were opening were the ‘six bob a day tourists. Well the tourists made a name for Australia. The men who came over on principle to fight for Australia – were the real fair dinkum Australians.’

In his book, The Fair Dinkums, the author Glenn McFarlane has written a wonderful text celebrating the lives of the men who joined the AIF in the second wave after the realities of Gallipoli became apparent in comparison to the romantic propaganda which painted the conflict as a holiday which would be over by Christmas in 1914.

McFarlane’s book details the experiences of 152 men who joined the 7th Battalion to fight under the colours of ‘mud and blood’. These men knew what lay ahead yet had the fortitude and courage to enlist regardless and join their countrymen in the conflict. I wonder what lessons we can draw from these men, as we consider an approach to leadership in our contemporary world.

What are we truly ‘fair dinkum’ about as individuals? For me, the lesson is to reflect upon our values as individuals. What do we stand for? What are we willing to work toward in a ‘fair dinkum’ manner to achieve.

The fair dinkums, the Australian’s who went enlisted and fought on the Western Front, knew full well what would confront them. Their sacrifice and service is as a timely reminder of our heritage as a nation of people willing to serve and enrich the lives of others in our community.

Dr Steven Middleton
Head of Berwick Grammar School