Frequently asked questions

Our Continuing Story

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a series of frequently asked questions pertaining to the Australian War Memorial Development Project. This page will be updated on a regular basis, as the project progresses. Should further details be sought, enquiries can be emailed through to development@awm.gov.au.

1. Why expand the Australian War Memorial?
Open Information

The Memorial commemorates our living history – for every veteran and for every Australian.

Over the past three decades, 100,000 Australian servicemen and servicewomen have served in war, conflict, peacekeeping, and humanitarian and disaster relief operations. Today their stories remain largely untold.

As the centre for national commemoration, the Australian War Memorial is modernising and expanding its galleries to tell Australia’s continuing story of service and sacrifice. We will share the experiences of Australians who have served in conflict and on operations including Somalia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Solomon Islands, East Timor, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

In doing so, we will create a permanent display dedicated to telling stories of what our nation has done to prevent war and contribute to peace.

This continuing story will connect the spirit of our past, present and future for generations to come.

2. How were the designs for the proposed development chosen?
Open Information

Following the Australian Government’s approval of the Memorial’s Detailed Business Case to develop its galleries, a comprehensive architectural design competition was conducted in 2019.

Entrants were asked to provide design solutions within the approved project budget that would manage heritage risks, provide flexible and functional exhibition space, and enhance the visitor experience. The shortlisted selection of architects were given the option to retain the current Anzac Hall in any proposed concept designs.

Four concept designs – one of which included a proposal to extend the current Anzac Hall – were entered in the design competition.

A design jury – comprised of three highly-regarded architects, two senior Memorial staff, and an independent heritage conservation advisor – assessed the submissions.

After careful study, the design submitted by Cox Architecture was selected for the new Anzac Hall and Glazed Link. The design submitted by Scott Carver Architects was selected for the new Southern Entry and Parade Ground works.

3. Why was the decision made to rebuild Anzac Hall?
Open Information

The current Anzac Hall was opened in 2001. Built according to the needs of the time and with the resources available, it was not designed to be modified to provide additional floor space.

Over time, it has become clear that more space is needed to recognise contemporary service and to accommodate the Memorial’s growing collection, through which these stories can be told.

The design by Cox Architecture – which proposes a new Anzac Hall and Glazed Link – was chosen as the most viable, least complex, and best value-for-money solution to meet the Memorial’s needs for the next 50 years and to allow for expansion, if needed, in the future. The proposed design will strengthen and improve connections between the main building and new Anzac Hall galleries, improve the visitor experience and circulation, and create an additional 4,000 square metres of exhibition space, while preserving the heritage of the main Memorial building.

The Memorial respects the Public Architecture Prize awarded to Denton Corker Marshall Pty Ltd for its design of the current Anzac Hall, and understands the prize’s importance to its recipients and other members of the Australian Institute of Architects.

While the existing building has been a valuable part of the Memorial over the past 20 years, the intrinsic value of Anzac Hall is its capacity to tell stories. Replacing Anzac Hall increases the space available to honour Australian servicemen and servicewomen involved in modern conflicts and operations, which is the best outcome for the Memorial’s future.

In short, the reasons the new Anzac Hall is positioned in the space behind the Main Building are the same reasons the current Anzac Hall was positioned there.

4. Will the original Memorial building and iconic silhouette be affected?
Open Information

Our new buildings and spaces will enhance the visitor experience, while protecting the heritage and form of the original iconic outline of the Memorial’s sandstone building façade as it is seen from Anzac Parade.

The sacred heart of the Memorial – including the Commemorative Area, Hall of Memory, and Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier – will not change. The original Commemorative Forecourt, stairs and heritage entrance will also remain.\

5. How will the visitor experience and access be improved?
Open Information

The addition of a southern entrance will improve visitor access and orientation.

There will also be improvements to building accessibility, with specific consideration for people with mobility impairment, and covered access from the underground parking.

New galleries will include quiet places for reflection and improved spaces for education programs which will enable greater connection and engagement with stories and objects for all visitors.

A new Research Centre near Poppy’s Café will offer efficient public access to collection and reference materials in welcoming, light-filled spaces.

The new design will improve connections between the main building and new Anzac Hall galleries, as well as improving the visitor experience: creating additional exhibition space, while preserving the heritage and integrity of the main Memorial building.

6. What is the timeline for the construction process?
Open Information

The installation of an Information Gallery outside Poppy’s Café, and a car park extension to the east of the café has now been completed. The Memorial will commence construction activity based on the timeline below.

Key Activity

Key Dates*

Poppy's Café carpark extension

Completed  2020

Contractor facilities installed

March 2021 to August 2021

Closure of Anzac Hall

28 March 2021

Major works to Anzac Hall

Mid-2021 -  to mid-2024

New exhibitions open in Anzac Hall

2024

Major works  to Southern Entrance

Mid-2021 to mid-2024

Major works to CEW Bean Building

Mid-2021 to mid-2024

Main building refurbishment and development of new galleries

Mid-2021 to late-2027

Project completed

2028

* Key dates subject to change

7. How are veterans involved in the Development Project?
Open Information

Engaging veterans and their families on the Development Project is a key priority.

As part of the gallery development consultation program, the Memorial is hosting specific engagement sessions for Australian veterans, veteran groups and Defence families. This approach will be critical in informing the content of new exhibitions and displays.

We are also committed to ensuring the Development Project provides direct employment and opportunities for veteran-owned businesses. Contractors seeking major construction contracts with the Memorial are required to detail a ‘Veterans’ Engagement Approach’ as part of the expression of interest and tender process. The Memorial is also working to identify veteran-owned businesses to ensure that they are given the opportunity to bid for sub-contracted work on the project.

The story of Oscar Comandari, who served in Afghanistan and worked on the Poppy’s Carpark Extension in 2019, is an example of the success of this initiative. Read Oscar’s story here.

8. Will the cost of the project reduce funding for veterans?
Open Information

The Prime Minister and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs have reaffirmed that funding for the Development Project will not occur at the expense of veteran benefits or services. This is not a case of choosing one over the other, but a commitment to both.

9. Did you consider expanding the Memorial’s space at Mitchell?
Open Information

The option of expanding the Treloar Technology Centre at Mitchell was carefully considered during the development of the Initial Business Case for the Memorial’s expansion, but it was not deemed a suitable option. See Options Assessment Report for further details.

All gallery displays need to be located in one place so they can tell our continuing story.

No conflict, nor the sacrifice of an Australian serviceman or servicewoman in it, is less worthy than any other, so none could be displayed at a distance from the commemorative heart of the Memorial – the Hall of Memory and the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier.

10. Why does the Memorial display large objects such as aircraft?
Open Information

At the heart of the Memorial development is honouring 100,000 Australians who have served our country in war, conflict and peacekeeping, humanitarian and disaster relief operations over the past 30 years. Our new exhibition spaces will allow us to tell the stories of these veterans and to recognise their service.

The display of large military equipment and objects (such as aircraft) will help the Memorial to powerfully illustrate the experiences of those who served. Those objects support a greater understanding of lived history, and continue the tradition of iconic displays such as the Ascot boat from Gallipoli, the “G for George” Lancaster from the Second World War, and the Huey helicopter from Vietnam – all of which present significant history and personal stories of service.

11. What is the Memorial doing to tell the story of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defence of Country?
Open Information

This has become an increasingly important part of the Memorial’s storytelling. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a longstanding tradition of defending Country, and continue to serve with honour among our military forces. We are committed to telling their stories.

There are stories that highlight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service in our exhibitions and in the National Collection. We hold works by noted artists such as Rover Thomas and Queenie McKenzie, relating to nineteenth- and twentieth-century frontier violence.

We continue to work actively on expanding our art collection, and we are collaborating with leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists on commissions relating to frontier conflict.

12. What consultation did the Memorial undertake in the development of its plans?
Open Information

The Memorial has conducted broad and detailed public consultation on the development, in partnership with independent researchers. This will continue at each stage of the project.

Public feedback informs everything we do. It comes through discussions with Memorial staff and volunteers, comments in visitor books or online, letters and emails, and research enquiries. We have also spoken with thousands of visitors, including veterans and students, Canberra locals, the wider Australian community, and international visitors.

Kantar Public Pty Ltd has been engaged by the Memorial to run our public consultation program for Gallery Development. Initial consultation on the content and design of our exhibitions started in February 2021 with a national online survey of the general public and Memorial stakeholder groups. The survey received more than 4,000 responses.

Focus groups and online forums will follow in the coming months. Throughout the exhibition development process we will also conduct regular meetings with advisory groups to seek input from veterans, Defence families and others affected by Australia’s commitments to contemporary conflicts, peacekeeping, and humanitarian operations.

Reports on formal consultations are available on our website:

  • Detailed Business Case – Stakeholder engagement and consultation report – November 2018.
  • EPBC Act National Consultation Report – April 2020.
  • Indigenous Representation Consultation Summary – 2018-2019
  • Indigenous Representation Consultation Report – 2020
  • Stakeholder Engagement Plan.

We encourage interested individuals to subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates.

13. Has there been a referral under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to ensure that the Development Project does not have a significant impact on heritage values?
Open Information

Ensuring that the original structure and façade of the original main building of the Australian War Memorial are maintained is of utmost importance. The project team worked closely with the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment to ensure heritage standards are met.

We welcome the recent decision by the Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment, who approved our project works under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). This was the first of three major approval processes required to progress the development.

More about the EPBC referral process can be found here.

14. How is the Memorial funded?
Open Information

The Memorial is a statutory authority that is financially supported by government funding, as well as by self-generated revenue and in-kind support (donated services or objects).

Financial and in-kind support comes from corporate partners and supporters. They are carefully assessed to ensure they suit the Memorial’s role and national standing, and do not encroach on the Memorial’s independence. Partners are excluded from commemorative activities, and partnerships are overseen by the Memorial’s Council.

We value the support of our corporate partners. It assists in the development of the Memorial’s galleries, exhibitions, programs, staffing and our National Collection.

15. How is the proposed Development Project Funded?
Open Information

The Development Project is supported through $498.7 million in funding allocated by the Australian Government over nine years to allow the Memorial to better recognise the contemporary service of veterans now and into the future.

Positive economic benefits at local and national levels will be generated over this period, creating directly and indirectly, more than 280 jobs in the community, including opportunities for veterans and defence family members through a dedicated engagement and opportunity plan.

The Approval by the Parliamentary Works Committee in February 2021 was the second step in our 3 stage approvals process allowing us to now move on to the NCA Works Approvals and continue procurement activities.

16. How has the Memorial obtained funding and approvals for the Development Project?
Open Information

Major government projects bring prosperity for Australia. But these benefits must be weighed carefully against possible impacts on communities, the environment, heritage, and other matters.

The stages of approval for a government capital project in the ACT include:

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The Memorial secured funding approval in 2018. Following this, we were required to undertake parliamentary and environmental approvals for the project. Environmental approval was granted in December 2020. In February 2021, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works (PWC) tabled their report and approved the development project with majority bi-partisan support. The project has now achieved both parliamentary and environmental approvals, progressing to the final major approval process, managed by the ACT Government through the National Capital Authority.

17. Why can certain works commence before the full approval process has been completed?
Open Information

The Memorial is undertaking all relevant planning approvals in line with Federal and ACT Government requirements. Enabling works packages – that prepare the work site for the major construction elements of a project – are a common practice in all major construction works. In line with project management best practice, the Memorial undertook a risk review of its program in 2019 which demonstrated that delivering these Enabling elements of the Project as early packages would offer a number of advantages. They include minimising the impact on the visitor experience; reducing the overall time and costs of the project; and enabling smaller businesses to work on the project.

The Memorial has sought and received all necessary approvals for its enabling works including works approvals from the National Capital Authority.

Major packages of work for the development can now be released to invite contractor tenders but no works will commence on any package without the necessary NCA approvals.

18. What impact will the development have on the native bushland on the Memorial site?
Open Information

We are making every effort to minimise any impact on the environment around the Memorial. We have conducted a Heritage Impact Assessment, with ecology and arborist’s reports for the first major works conducted by experts. The design was altered to avoid damaging remnant trees: that is, native trees that remain from the original vegetation before urban development took place.

The final Public Realm design is planned to reinstate endemic species, with more trees than the precinct contained before the development.

19. How has the Memorial expanded over time?
Open Information

The Memorial was designed and built in the 1920s and 1930s to commemorate those who served in the First World War. By the time it opened on Armistice Day 1941, the world was in the midst of the Second World War. It too, needed to be remembered.

In 1952, during the Korean War, the Memorial’s commemorative purpose was expanded to cover all wars in which Australia had been – or would be – involved.

The original Memorial building was extended in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the Unknown Australian Soldier was interred in the Hall of Memory on 11 November 1993. Anzac Hall opened in 2001, and other major museum upgrades and developments occurred in the late 1990s and 2000s.

20. Will there be a live feed of Australian Defence Force operations in the galleries?
Open Information

No. There will be no live feed of Australian Defence Force operations anywhere in the Memorial’s galleries. This was one of many ideas that were raised and explored in 2018, but it has not been taken further.

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