Ceremonial protocols and guidance

The following advice should be referenced when hosting a ceremonial or commemorative event.

It is the responsibility of the event host to ensure all protocols are implemented appropriately for the event.

Special events

Anzac Day Dawn Service

The Australian National Flag (ANF) is to be at the half-mast position prior to the commencement of the service.

Two minutes silence is observed for all military Anzac Day Dawn Services.

After the period of silence Reveille is played and the flag orderlies raise the flags from the half-mast position to the mast peak. The flags are raised to the mast peak in time with the playing of Reveille so that when the song is concluded the flags have reached the mast peak.

At the completion of a Dawn Service the ANF is lowered to the half-mast position where it remains in that position until 12 noon, at which time it is to be then raised to the mast peak again.

Other Anzac Day ceremonies

The ANF is to be flown at half-mast from sunrise until 12 noon.

For Anzac Day ceremonies the ANF is to be at half-mast and then raised to the peak during the playing of Reveille at the conclusion of the service.

One minute silence is then observed.

During commemorative services, after the period of silence has been observed Rouse is played and the flag orderlies raise the flags from the half-mast position to the mast peak. The flags are raised to the mast peak in time with the playing of Rouse so that when the song is concluded the flags have reached the mast peak.

Remembrance Day

The ANF is not to be half-mast until approximately 10.30am and raised to the peak at 11.02am hours for the remainder of the day.

Two minutes silence is to be observed at 11am.

Other commemorative services

The ANF is lowered to the half-mast position just prior to the commencement of the service.

One minute silence is to be observed. The period of silence may be at the discretion of the event organiser.

After the period of silence Rouse is played.

When Rouse is played the flag orderlies raise the flags from the half-mast position to the mast peak. The flags are raised to the mast peak in time with the playing of Rouse so that when the song is concluded the flags have reached the mast peak.

Marches

The suggested order of march for an Anzac Day march is as follows.

  1. Parade commander and formed party.
  2. Flag party and escort.
  3. Associations granted special status by the march organising authority, e.g. an association celebrating a significant anniversary.
  4. Australian World War I unit associations in order of precedence, i.e. Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army then Royal Australian Air Force.
  5. Australian post-World War II unit and Australian Corps, regiment and unit associations in order of precedence, i.e. Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army then Royal Australian Air Force.
  6. Australian post-World War II unit and Australian Corps, regiment and unit associations in order of precedence, i.e. Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army then Royal Australian Air Force.
  7. Australian peacekeeping associations.
  8. Australian ex-service associations.
  9. Other countries’ service associations.

Regimental associations take priority over unit associations.

If no march is to take place prior to a service at a memorial, the service associations meet at the ceremony site before the arrival of the guard, band and catafalque party.

Music

Reveille

Reveille is played only as the first call of the day.

Historically Reveille woke the soldier at dawn and the name of the ceremony is mentioned in 16th century books on war. Until 100 years ago Reveille was performed on drum and fife. Today, a solo bugle is used.

The Royal Australian Navy Reveille bugle call is different to that of Australia Army and Royal Australia Air Force.

Rouse

Rouse may be played at any other time that is not the Reveille first call of the day.

Traditionally Rouse is the bugle call performed at Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force military funerals and services of dedication and remembrance. Rouse called soldiers’ spirits to arise, ready to fight for another day.

The Royal Australian Navy does not play Rouse and only plays Reveille. In Navy terms rouse is a traditional term for guard and steerage. As a result, The Royal Australian Navy will raise and lower the ANF differently to the other two services.

The Last Post

The Last Post is the bugle call sounded in barracks and other military installations at 10pm to mark the end of the day's activities. It is also sounded at military funerals and commemorative services to indicate that the soldier’s day has drawn to a final close.

During the sounding of The Last Post all members wearing military uniform and headdress are to stand at the attention position and salute.

Armed parties are to be given the order to present arms and the commander of the party is to hand salute, if that person is not carrying a weapon.

Lament

A lament is an expression of sorrow, remorse, regret, mourning or grief and may be delivered in music, poetry or song.

During the laying of wreaths, a musical lament may be played by a piper, a band or sung by a solo vocalist.

A lament commences immediately when the first personage moves forward towards the memorial after receiving a wreath from the wreath orderly. Lament concludes immediately when the last personage has moved away from the memorial after laying a wreath.

Recitation - The Ode

One traditional recitation on Anzac Day is the fourth verse of the poem ‘For the Fallen’ by the English poet and writer Laurence Binyon. It is known as The Ode.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

‘Lest we forget’ is not a part of the poem, however it has become accepted practice to say it at the completion of The Ode.

Laying of wreaths

The suggested procedure for the laying of a wreath is as follows.

  1. The person moves-up to the memorial with the wreath in the left hand or both hands.
  2. The person halts, pauses, lowers and then lays the wreath.
  3. The person adopts the attention position, takes one pace rearwards and pauses
  4. If the person is wearing military uniform and headdress they salute. If the person is not wearing military uniform they bow their head.
  5. The person pauses again and then moves away from the memorial.

There is no requirement to place the right hand on the left breast pocket, i.e. over the heart region, when a person bows their head and pauses to remember.

Flags

Flying at half-mast

Flags are flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning.

The half-mast position will depend on the size of the flag and the length of the flagpole. The flag must be lowered to a position recognisably half-mast to avoid the appearance of a flag which has accidentally fallen away from the top of the flagpole. An acceptable position would be when the top of the flag is a third of the distance down from the top of the flagpole.

The flag should never be flown at half-mast at night, even if it is illuminated.

When flying the ANF at half-mast with other flags, all flags in the set should be flown at half-mast.

When lowering the flag from a half-mast position it should be briefly raised to the peak and then lowered ceremoniously. The ANF should be raised first and lowered last.

There are times when direction will be given by the Australian Government for all flags to be flown at half-mast. The Commonwealth Flag Network can provide notification of these occasions.

Flags in any locality can be flown at half-mast on the death of a local citizen or on the day, or part of the day, of their funeral.

Flag order of precedence

The flag order of precedence is as follows.

  1. Australian National Flag (ANF).
  2. Other nations national flags in alphabetical order.
  3. State flags.
  4. Territory flags.
  5. Other flags prescribed by the Flags Act 1953, e.g. Australian Aboriginal Flag and Torres Strait Islander Flag.
  6. Australian Defence Force Ensign.
  7. Australian White Ensign.
  8. Royal Australian Air Force Ensign.
  9. Merchant Marine.

Flying overseas

When flying the ANF overseas at Australian establishments, the flag should be flown as a single device.

However, if it is decided to fly the ANFs with the national flag of the host country, the ANF is to take precedence followed by the host nation’s national flag.

The Australian Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Straits Island Flag may be flown overseas during NAIDOC Week following  the ANF and the host nation’s national flag.