Anzac school ranks thin

Xavier College's Eloise Hill, marching in last year's Anzac Day parade.
Xavier College's Eloise Hill, marching in last year's Anzac Day parade.

THE number of school children taking part in this year’s Albury Anzac Day march will be scaled back.

The change, which is expected to be confirmed by the Albury RSL sub-branch in March, has been prompted by criticisms from parents of school children taking part in last year’s parade that they were forced to make an early exit into QEII Square.

In previous years, children have finished the April 25 march at the western end of Dean Street, along with war veterans and other parade participants.

Sub-branch president Graham Docksey yesterday said after receiving feedback on last year’s parade, in some cases this year schools may be represented only by their captains.

“The focus of the march should always be on the war veterans — first and foremost,” he said.

“The schools would like to continue to participate, but they would like to restrict their numbers.

“In some cases, school captains only — or maybe a dozen students — might represent a school.”

Mr Docksey said if that was the case, the RSL was likely to allow the children to march the full length of Dean Street.

He said the issue had been the large number of people congregating at the end of Dean Street and the difficulty of them dispersing.

The number of school children participating in the march has risen steadily in the past decade.

The RSL branch admitted there had been a breakdown in communication about arrangements, including children exiting the parade at QEII Square.

Those schools that marched were asked for feedback.

One suggestion that would allow all school children to take part involved high school students exiting the parade at Townsend Street and primary students at Elizabeth Street.

Schools’ participation in this year’s march will also be influenced by Anzac Day falling during first-term holidays.

Mr Docksey said congestion on Dean Street at the end of the parade had become a recurring issue for the RSL.

A large number of military personnel also take part in the march, before heading to the Wodonga parade.

“I don’t mind feedback, but I like constructive feedback you can do something with,” Mr Docksey said.

He said pressure to start the parade earlier than 9am would be resisted.

“I think the 9am start is the right time,” he said. “It means you can still be up at the monument by 10am for the service.

“Otherwise it puts the rest of the day out of kilter.

“It is a long day when you consider we have a dawn service and we are also at the footy in the afternoon.”