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Nowa Nowa Community Development Group is among the groups from across Australia to share more than $2.2 million through the Saluting Their Service commemorative grants program.

Federal Member for Gippsland and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester has announced the community development group would receive $4335 to upgrade part of the Nowa Nowa War Memorial Precinct.

“A key element of the precinct is the memorial to the only local soldier not to return home from the Second World War,” Mr Chester said.

“Henry Ernest Whitbourne, known as Ernie, was one of 20 residents of Nowa Nowa who enlisted to serve during the Second World War and drowned near Crete in May 1941.

“More than 70 years ago, the Nowa Nowa community planted a Western Australian flowering gum tree in his memory.  After the original flowering gum died, the stump was carved by sculptor John Brady to be part of the new memorial to Ernie. The memorial now comprises a sculpture of a soldier kneeling in front of his fallen mate’s gun and a seat for contemplation.”

Steve Costigan from the Nowa Nowa Community Development Group said the grant money would enable the area to be re-landscaped to enhance and protect the sculpture.

“The community has done a lot of work over the past few years to create this tribute to Ernie,” Mr Costigan said. “The landscaping work will include the installation of three timber seats, built and donated by the Nowa Nowa Men’s Shed, and a new rosemary bush.

“The memorial attracts the attention of passers-by and many stop to learn more about his story. The landscaping will really finish off this area and help to keep the memory of Ernie alive.”

This is the second time Federal Government funding has been secured for this memorial: $3600 for the creation of the sculpture was allocated in a previous round of the same grant program.

Mr Chester said projects like this one helped to preserve Australia’s wartime heritage story for generations to come and support commemorations of our military history.

“This funding will help community groups and local organisations remember the service and sacrifice of our service men and women and support the community to participate in these commemorations,” Mr Chester said.

“The successful community groups and organisations in this round are the first to benefit from the lifting of the grants cap from $4,000 to $10,000.”

Mr Chester said the additional funding for the Saluting Their Service grants program was part of the government’s commitment to commemorating the moments that shaped Australia’s military history.

“This year we have the unique opportunity to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the around one million Australians who served and some 39,000 who died,” Mr Chester said.

For more information on the Saluting Their Service grants program, visit the Community Grants Hub (www.communitygrants.gov.au)

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