War Widows Day will be celebrated annually in Queensland on the 19th of October from next year – a first for Australia.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the 19th of October was the birthday of Mrs Jessie Vasey, who started the first Queensland branch of the War Widows Guild in Toowoomba in 1947.
“I can think of no better way to celebrate next year’s 75th anniversary of what is now Australian War Widows Queensland than to formally dedicate this day as an annual recognition of the people left behind by those who have served Australia.
“Queensland will be the first to do this, to honour the widows and widowers of members of the Australian Defence Force.”
Attorney-General and Minister for Women, Shannon Fentiman, said the widows and widowers of members of the Australian Defence Force bear their sacrifice with dignity and fortitude.
“From 2022 onwards, War Widows Day in Queensland will honour the resilient families in our communities who have faced enormous grief,” Ms Fentiman said.
“The day will further highlight Australian War Widows Queensland’s stated aim to empower, support, inspire and celebrate war widows, carers and families affected by defence services.”
Assistant Minister to the Premier for Veterans Affairs Bart Mellish said there are 10,908 war widows in Queensland today.
“2,201 of them are members of the organisation, and many attend the 28 sub-branches and social groups across the state,” Mr Mellish said.
“It provides support, friendship and comfort, built on a wonderful historical foundation, and War Widows Day will be a fitting annual acknowledgment.”
Australian War Widows Queensland President Jenny Gregory said Jessie Vasey lost her husband, Major-General George Vasey, just four months before the end of the Second World War.
“Mrs Vasey worked to ensure that war widows were recognised by governments in Australia and given the financial support and services that they needed,” Mrs Gregory said.
“We are delighted that the Premier is declaring Mrs Vasey’s birthday as a special day for us to acknowledge the sacrifice of widows from all conflicts whose loved ones gave their lives for their country.
“War Widows Day will remind Queenslanders of the loss felt by many people across our communities, and it will also raise awareness of the network of resources and support available to war widows and widowers.”