Rituals play an important role in families and certain communities.

Why do we have rituals?

Rituals within communities can serve a purpose and build a sense of belonging for some people. Successful rituals help us feel positive and create solidarity (Sims, 2020, p. 168).


  • are social occasions where people are physically present,
  • are focused on an object, event or belief,
  • follow a communal rhythm,
  • create a mood, and
  • create energy unique to groups (Marx, 2019 in Sims, 2020).


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First Responder families

This resource, By Fortem Australia, can assist first responder families to create their own rituals.

Service families

Rituals can be an important part of Defence family events each year.

Each family is quite different in their approach to rituals such as Anzac Day and Remembrance Day commemorations. There are several issues to be aware of when supporting families around these dates.

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Young children who have an absent parent may find the events confusing and distressing because many people look like their deployed parent in uniform. For this reason, some parents may not go to the events at all, but rather, commemorate them in some way at home.

Be aware that Indigenous families may not commemorate this day because of the Australian Frontier Wars and Australia's historic genocide of our Indigenous people.

It is important to note that these events can be quite stressful for some family members due to extended family who may have served in the military in different generations. 

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Building your knowledge

Remember that we do not ‘celebrate’ Anzac Day and Remembrance Day but ‘commemorate’ them. Find out more about the important difference between the two words.

Use rituals and commemorations as a chance to improve your knowledge and share this in an age-appropriate way with the children. Many of the activities in the Resources Program in the 'We Remember' tile can be used with a wide range of ages.

It would be a good idea to familiarise yourself with some of the terms used in a commemorative service by researching. This might start with questions such as:

  • What is the Ode, and where did it come from? 
Grant Harris worked in education for many decades. He was in charge of a very large cadet program in the New England area of NSW. In these following three recordings, Grant shares his knowledge.

  • What is The Last Post, and why is it used in commemorations? 

  • What is a catafalque party? 

  • Do you know the difference between ANZAC and Anzac? It is important that you find out to avoid using the wrong one when communicating with families. You can do your own research on this.

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Authentic approaches

Aim to embed an authentic approach to rituals at your service.

Don’t be afraid to connect with families well in advance before these days so that you can get some ideas from them. They have possibly seen the way other services have approached these commemorative days and may have some good ideas to share.

Check with a few different families about what they will do to commemorate the day and plan appropriately before the event. Consult with the families to ensure they are okay with the child being involved.

Source age-appropriate resources that can be used six months in advance so you can ensure you have what you need. Build your capacity and knowledge as a service each year, collaborating with the families. 

Un-linked reference

Sims, M. (2020). Bullshit Towers. London, UK: Peter Lang Publishers.

Last modified: Monday, 18 December 2023, 3:40 PM