Unit 1: A memoriable Memorial

The Competition

On 2 March 2005 Senator the Hon Christopher Ellison MP, the Federal Minister for Justice and Customs, launched the National Police Memorial design competition. The National Police Memorial design competition was an open, single-stage competition for the establishment of a major commemorative work located in Australia’s national capital. The memorial would pay tribute to Australian police officers killed on duty or those who have died as a result of their duties since the beginning of policing in Australia.

The competition sponsor, the Australasian Police Ministers’ Council, endorsed the formation of a working group to progress the development of the National Police Memorial. From the working group, a steering committee was formed to oversee the funding, design and construction of the memorial. The steering committee comprised representatives from the Australian Federal Police, Northern Territory Police, Queensland Police, New South Wales Police, Western Australian Police (in 2006), the Police Federation of Australia, Police Legacy and the National Capital Authority.

In all, 77 entries were submitted from across all states and territories, including two international entries.

Design Requirements

Australia is very sensitive to the loss of police service personnel. In many instances the grieving process occurs on a national level and involves families, colleagues, community leaders and the general public. The National Police Memorial provides a national focus for those affected by the death of a police officer.

The most powerful message expressed by the memorial is that those who have made the ultimate sacrifice are ordinary people who, through a commitment to the community, have shown extraordinary qualities. Through ceremony, interaction and reflection, the memorial acts as a symbol in connecting the police to the community and loved ones.

Essential elements of the memorial include:

The Winning Design

The winning design for the National Police Memorial was announced by Minister Ellison,
on behalf of the Australasian Police Ministers’ Council on 22 June 2005.

The competition jury unanimously selected entry number 887981, submitted by Brisbane firm Fairweather Proberts Architects with Urban Art Projects, as the winning design.

There are two key elements to the winning design for the National Police Memorial. The first is a bronze commemorative wall upon which names of police officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice are recorded on bronze plaques.

The second is a large stone paved area across which visitors move to gain access to the commemorative wall. The pathway tilts downwards and directs the visitor to the wall. The undulating nature of the terrain creates an uncertainty in experience and reflects the uncertain path that police tread in the performance of their duty.

The Commemorative Wall

The commemorative wallThe bronze commemorative wall measures twenty-seven metres long and over two metres high. It is punctured by 1,200 plaques upon which the following information concerning the deceased police officers is engraved:

Commemorative wall plaquesEach plaque is randomly located across the wall to reflect the random and unplanned nature of loss. Spaces on the commemorative wall are left vacant to remind visitors of the fact that tragedy in the future is inevitable.

In selecting the winning design, the jury felt that the commemorative wall worked at a number of levels. On the one hand, individual tragedies are uniquely recognised by the individual plaques. Each plaque casts a shadow which in turn adds a random pattern to the wall. Pattern and texture invite the visitor to touch the wall and to connect physically with the memorial.

A space within the wall provides light to small voids over each engraved plaque. This enables the memorial to be viewed at night and provides an effect similar to that of a candlelit vigil, in memory of those who have fallen.

Landscape leading to the Memorial

Quotes on uneven terrain leading to commemorative wallAn underlying theme of the memorial is the notion of ordinary men and women doing the extraordinary on behalf of the Australian people and making the ultimate sacrifice. This is shown by a collection of quotes from an officer, colleague or loved one to communicate the message that those who have died lived lives not dissimilar to the visitor reading the quote. The quotes are etched into a large area of uneven terrain which leads the visitor towards the commemorative wall, the focal point of their experience.

The objective of the quotes is to provide a rich variety of emotion across the uneven landscape that acts as a testament to the cost to the community of policing. A mix of both historical and contemporary quotes is incorporated to reflect the long and enduring history of sacrifice in the police services of the nation.

He picked up his single shot carbine and prepared to face the bushrangers.

My mum is my hero. She was a wonderful officer and lady. My family and I are so very proud of her and the job she did. We love her and miss her very much.

An exploding landmine in an unmarked field.

A new start in a new land tragically cut short.

Location of the Memorial

The National Police Memorial is located in Kings Park on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. Kings Park is an area set aside for the location of memorials which commemorate non-military sacrifice, service and achievement, including the role of Australians in the United Nations, and similar roles such as peace-keeping. Another memorial located in Kings Park is the National Emergency Services Memorial. This memorial was dedicated in July 2004 in honour of the thousands of men and women who serve and have served in Australia’s emergency management and services organisations.

Map of central Canberra