The Trustees of the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial have defined a Prisoner of War to be a person who was captured by a common enemy and/or interned in a neutral or non-combatant country. To be defined an Australian Prisoner of War, the person needs to be either an Australian Born person serving in the Uniform of an Australian Service; or in the Uniform of a friendly country, or Born Elsewhere and serving in the Uniform of an Australian Service. A Prisoner is a person who has lost personal privileges, suffers deprivation of liberty or is unable to return home or dies in captivity.
Colour photograph of a War Memorial designed by Peter Blizzard. The granite wall of the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial features a listing the names of Australian Prisoners and was opened on the 6th February 2004 by General Peter Cosgrove AM MC to recognise and remember over 36,000 Australians who became Prisoners of War during the Wars of the 20th Century. In 2008 the Memorial became the First Military Memorial of National Significance outside Canberra.
The Memorial which was designed by Peter Blizzard OAM, symbolises that all Australian prisoners embarked on a journey to serve away from their homeland and acknowledges the hardship, deprivation, brutality, starvation and disease endured by Prisoners of War during their capture and the scars that many continued to endure upon their repatriation to Australia.
Heritage Victoria describes the memorial in the following way"
"A JOURNEY OF HONOUR, REMEMBRANCE AND HEALING - The Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial is a dramatic and highly symbolic tribute to the sacrifice made by more than 35,000 young Australian service men and women in four theatres of war.
At the heart of the monument is a stark, 130 metre long, highly polished black granite wall, engraved with the names of all Australian prisoners of war. The names on this 'honour roll' are listed in historical order from the Boer War in 1899, through to the Korean War in 1953. It is a testament to the contribution made by so many.
Standing sentinel at the centre of the Memorial are six huge basalt obelisks, etched with the names of all the countries where Australians were held prisoner of war. The obelisks stand in a large reflective pool, set back from the central pathway, symbolising the distance that separated Australia's prisoners of war from their homes and their loved ones.
Opposite the pool is a larger obelisk flanked by flagpoles and a ceremonial stone on which to lay wreaths. The central pathway is itself symbolic, with each of the paving stones cut in the shape of a railway sleeper. The pathway defines 'the journey' taken by the prisoners of war and the journey visitors take around the monument.
At the end of the granite wall where the pathway ends, visitors face a large stone engraved simply 'Lest We Forget'. Water flows from beneath the stone, along the base of the granite wall and into the reflection pool in which the obelisks stand. This cycle of flowing water, symbolising spirituality, healing, cleansing, birth and rebirth, guides visitors on their journey through the Memorial."