Order of service and flag protocols for a commemorative event

The order of service is the program of events for a commemorative ceremony or service. You can use this order of service on Anzac Day, Remembrance Day and other important days. We do this to recognise and remember the service and sacrifice of our veterans and serving personnel.

Event plan

If you plan to host a local ceremony to honour the service and sacrifice of veterans, such as Anzac Day or Remembrance Day, you could follow our suggested order of service.

When hosting an official or large service, follow the Australian Government protocols.

Please check the COVID-safe event planning advice for your state or territory.

What you need to do

The program for an event should be tailored to your audience and your local community.

Try to involve veterans or current-serving members from your local community. This will help to engage the audience, young and old.

Our suggested order of service will suit many commemorative events, including Anzac Day and Remembrance Day. You can adapt this program to suit your needs.

The service might take between 30 and 60 minutes from start to finish. We've given approximate times next to each part of the ceremony to help with planning.

Order of service

Flags lowered to half-mast before the start of the service

Welcome speech (2 minutes)

Mounting of catafalque party (2 minutes) – if applicable

Hymns or other music (2 to 4 minutes)

Prayers, poems or readings (2 to 5 minutes)

Commemorative address by invited guest (3 to 5 minutes)

Wreath-laying (3 to 5 minutes)

Ode of Remembrance (1 minute)

The Last Post (1 minute 22 seconds)

Period of silence (1 or 2 minutes)

Reveille (1 minute 1 second) or The Rouse (22 seconds) while flags are raised

National Anthem (1 to 3 minutes)

Dismounting of catafalque party (2 minutes) – if applicable

Closing remarks (2 minutes)

Official guests depart

You can download this order of service as part of our Anzac Day Kitbag.

The Ode of Remembrance, The Last Post and the catafalque party are important symbols of commemoration.

Protocol for flags

The Australian National Flag is the most prominent flag flown during a ceremony. Others may include flags of other host nations, the Australian Aboriginal Flag, the Torres Strait Islander Flag and a state or territory flag.

During a ceremony held in Australia, the Australian National Flag is raised or lowered at the same time as other flags. If this is not possible, then the Australian flag is raised first and lowered last.

If you’re planning a dawn service, the flags are:

  • lowered to half-mast before the start of the service
  • raised slowly to the masthead during the playing of Reveille
  • lowered again to half-mast at the end of the service
  • raised again to the masthead at midday.

If you’re planning an event at another time of day, the flags are:

  • lowered to half-mast before the start of the service
  • raised slowly to the masthead during the playing of The Rouse.

Military personnel will stand to attention and salute during the lowering and raising of flags.

Ode of Remembrance

When the Ode is recited at a commemorative service, visitors should stand, remove headwear and refrain from talking. For details, see Ode of Remembrance and other poems.

Period of silence

Traditionally, a period of 2 minutes is observed for a dawn service and 1 minute at other times of the day. However, the time can be adjusted to suit your audience.

Music

Reveille or The Rouse

Reveille is played only for a dawn service. The Rouse is played at other times of the day.

Anthems

When the Australian National Anthem is played in conjunction with the national anthem of a foreign country, the foreign country’s national anthem is always played first.

For details, see Music for commemorative events.


Last updated: 13 April 2021

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2021), Order of service and flag protocols for a commemorative event, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 14 April 2021, http://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/commemoration/event-planning/order-of-service
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