‘Silent disco’ on Anzac Day eve sparks debate

The Universal Bendigo flyer (inset) for an event to be held on the day before Anzac Day has breached government regulations.
The Universal Bendigo flyer (inset) for an event to be held on the day before Anzac Day has breached government regulations.

UPDATE 4.15pm: The original poster for the Universal Bendigo “silent disco” has breached government regulations.

The use of the words “Anzac Eve” as in the poster requires permission from the Veterans’ Affairs minister, but a spokesperson for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs said none was sought.

“The department is currently attempting to contact the nightclub to discuss the promotion and its breach of the regulations,” the spokesperson said. 

“It appears that the organisation has withdrawn the Facebook campaign and DVA will endeavour to find out how widespread the promotion is and should the nightclub withdraw the promotion immediately there will be no further action.”

The spokesperson said there were no regulations surrounding the use of images of poppies or soldiers (other than copyright restrictions) but the use of the Rising Sun logo is, however, regulated by the Department of Defence.

“Use of the word Anzac for commercial purposes is highly restricted,” the spokesperson said.  “The production of Anzac biscuits is the only purely commercial use of the word ‘Anzac’ that is generally approved. The department takes misuse of the word Anzac seriously and investigates all reports.”

The Bendigo Advertiser’s attempts to contact Universal Bendigo on Tuesday went unanswered.

The original flyer, left, posted on the Universal Bendigo Facebook page on Monday and the second version, right, posted on Tuesday.

The original flyer, left, posted on the Universal Bendigo Facebook page on Monday and the second version, right, posted on Tuesday.

UPDATE 1.30pm: A new poster for the silent disco has appeared on the Universal Bendigo Facebook page, this time with no mention of the word ‘Anzac’ or images of poppies or a soldier.

The details of the event remain the same, except the heading is now “Universal presents silent disco”, rather than “Universal presents Anzac Eve silent disco”.

The description on the post is, “SILENT DISCO POSTER.... Take 2!”.

UPDATE 11AM: Kangaroo Flat RSL president John Meager was shocked when he saw the Universal Bendigo flyer for the silent disco.

“I think it’s highly disrespectful that they can do a thing like this,” he said.

“For people to make money out of Anzac Day for their own personal gain, it’s wrong.”

Mr Meager was also concerned about the impact the disco would have on both the Bendigo and Kangaroo Flat dawn services.

“I’m definitely against it – it’s not only going to upset Bendigo’s dawn service, but also Kangaroo Flat’s,” he said.

“I’m disgusted that they can even think about these sort of things.”

The Bendigo dawn service starts at 5.50am on Anzac Day from the Soldiers Memorial Institute in Pall Mall – about 400 metres from the Universal.

The nightclub doesn’t normally open on Monday nights, according to its opening hours on Facebook, but runs 10pm to 5am, Thursday to Saturday. 

The Universal Bendigo nightclub in McCrae Street.

The Universal Bendigo nightclub in McCrae Street.

Anzac Day trading restrictions from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation say late-night trading venues such as nightclubs, pubs and bars across the state that would normally trade between 3am and midday are required to cease the supply of alcohol at 3am on Anzac Day.

Applications for temporary limited licences and major event licences can be made.

The Bendigo Advertiser is seeking comment from Universal Bendigo.

EARLIER: A “silent disco” planned for the eve of Anzac Day has sparked debate in Bendigo with the Bendigo District RSL labeling the promotion as “inappropriate”.

The event at Universal Bendigo was described on the nightclub’s Facebook page as “A Minute of Silence... No... It Deserves a Night of Silence!!! ANZAC EVE.... SILENT DISCO!!!”

It is scheduled for the evening on Monday, April 24, with “three DJs to choose, hundreds of tunes and complete silence!”.

Comments on the post on the Universal Bendigo Facebook page.

Comments on the post on the Universal Bendigo Facebook page.

Bendigo District RSL president Cliff Richards said the way an image of a soldier and poppies was used in the flyer promoting the event was “disgusting”. 

“It’s highly inappropriate this company has done this,” he said.

“As far as the Bendigo District RSL is concerned, it’s certainly an inappropriate act to use the word ‘Anzac’ and images of poppies when promoting a disco.”

Mr Richards said Anzac Day was a day of national pride, not a day to advertise a disco.

The Facebook post, which was removed this morning, was slammed by users when the event flyer was posted just after 5pm yesterday.

“Absolutely despicable. Me and my comrades are offended for those who lost their lives for this country. It’s not party time. Disrespectful and ignorant,” one Facebook user wrote. 

“Come to the war memorial and talk about the 102,000 Australians that have lost their lives and talk to their families.”

Another called for the Universal to remove “this entire joke of a post” and make a formal apology.

Not everyone was offended, with a number of Facebook users tagging people and saying they would attend.

Penalties apply for the incorrect use of the word 'Anzac' under the Protection of Word 'Anzac' Act 1920 act and permission from the Veterans' Affairs minister is generally required to use the word in a commercial context. 

However, the words 'Anzac Day' may be used in connection with certain events or entertainment held on April 25, or on consecutive days including Anzac Day, without permission.

The Bendigo Advertiser is seeking comment from Universal Bendigo.