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April 2024 Newsletter

Dear Members and Friends,

As I sit here making the final edits for this month’s newsletter, I see the headlines in The Australian newspaper reading “Australians in England teach Ukrainians how to defeat Russia” providing exactly the right context for the upcoming event we are hosting with Australian Defence in a couple of weeks. This is just one example of the many ways the Australian and UK defence forces are working closely together in these incredibly anxious times, and all the more meaningful as we approach ANZAC Day. Please join us on Wednesday 17 April, 6-8pm in the Exhibition Hall of Australia House to hear Rear Admiral James Parkin CBE and the Head of Australian Defence in the UK, Brigadier Grant Mason DSC DSM ADC, in a discussion moderated by Sophia Gaston of the Policy Exchange. This pivotal event on the practicalities of the modern Australia/UK defence relationship will be introduced by the High Commissioner, HE the Hon. Stephen Smith, co-author of Australia's Defence Strategic Review. This will be followed by a Q & A session and reception. In light of escalating world conflicts, this is an event not to be missed. We have limited spaces left however, if you would like to come along, you will find booking details here.

Our International Women's Day event on 7 March was another great success and the Exhibition Hall was packed with standing room only. Everyone was captivated by our panel comprising Deputy High Commissioner Elisabeth Bowes PSM, Catherine West MP and Elizabeth Vega OBE, expertly moderated by ABC Europe Correspondent, Isabella Higgins. A big thank you again to the team at the Australian High Commission for collaborating with us once again on this milestone event. Thank you also to our Corporate Partner, the Commonwealth Bank, for its continued support. It was wonderful to see so many of the Commonwealth Bank team in our audience.  Photos from the night can be seen here. And thanks to B-AS Board member Andrew Grill of The Actionable Futurist for making a marvellous film of the discussion. If you were not able to attend the event itself, I strongly encourage you to watch it by clicking here.

As you know, there will be a series of services around the country commemorating ANZAC Day. We have sent a note to you already regarding the various services in London and your options/opportunities to attend. Please click here for details. I will be up early for the very moving Dawn Service and will be laying a commemorative wreath at the war memorial at Hyde Park Corner on your behalf. Our West Country branch will be holding its annual service at Sutton Veny followed by lunch at the Warminster Infantry Officers' Mess on Sunday 21 April and warmly invites all B-AS supporters to attend. Further details (including lunch booking details) can be found here.

And we have two other significant events in the wings prior to the summer holidays. On 29 May, 6-8pm we are hosting a discussion with past Prime Minister Julia Gillard AC in Australia House. Tickets will be launched soon so keep an eye on your inboxes as this event will of course sell out quickly. We will also launch tickets soon for our very popular annual Summer Party to be held on 12 June, 6-8pm again in the glorious gardens of the Royal Over-Seas League looking over Green Park. As always, our Members get preferential rates and booking for our events as well as receiving other special offers. To become a Member of the B-AS and support the work we do, please click here.

I am looking forward to the return of our now refurbished Australia Club archives which I expect to receive from Shepherds Bookbinders in the next week or so. These magnificent volumes document in great detail the events and the work of the Australia Club from its inception in 1937 through to its reconstitution as the Britain-Australia Society in 1971 and the early years thereafter. I will come back to you shortly with details of our plans to showcase the books themselves and how to access the archives digitally. We are enormously grateful to Sir Lynton Crosby AO and CT Group for very generously sponsoring this enormous task and I very much look forward to an opportunity to recognise them when I present the final works at an event celebrating the restoration.

Best wishes

Damian Walsh


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