Bendigo born veteran Kellie Dadds started By the Left after one of her close friends was accosted about her medals

LEFT SIDE: By the Left campaign founder Kellie Dadds. Picture: SUPPLIED

LEFT SIDE: By the Left campaign founder Kellie Dadds. Picture: SUPPLIED

A movement to highlight the role of women on Anzac Day has been created after many servicewomen had been questioned about their participation in marches.

Members of the public automatically assumed they were representing male relatives and had failed to recognise the women were veterans themselves.

Veteran Kellie Dadds was determined to make a change, so she started the By the Left campaign.

The By the Left campaign highlights the role of women in the Australian Defence Force and hopes to broaden the stereotypical image of what a veteran looks like.

Bendigo born founder Kellie Dadds said she started the campaign after a friend of hers called her after she had been questioned about the side of her jacket her medals had been displayed.

“During the phone call she told me that she would never wear her medals again and was never marching again,” Mrs Dadds said.

“I thought now is the time to do something about it.”

The custom is for veterans to display their medals on the left side, whereas family members representing relatives are required to wear them on the right side.

Kellie joined the army in 1996, has been deployed eight times and is an army veteran of 22 years. She is now a full-time mother with three young children.

“It comes down to the perception of what a veteran looks like and they’re typically older man, which is fair enough because they form the majority of our veteran community,” Mrs Dadds said.

“So particularly when people see a young female or even a young male wearing a chest full of medals, people automatically assume they’re wearing someone’s medals, usually a relative.”

“Sometimes it’s asked nicely and it’s usually a genuine mistake,” she said.

“But sometimes it can be quite aggressive. People have had their medals poked, had them taken off and they have been abused and intimidated.

“The experiences have been appalling and as a consequence it can make them feel isolated from the defence community.”

Annette Curtis from the Post 1975 Veterans Central Victoria group will be marching in Bendigo on Anzac Day.

“We all signed the line just like everyone else, we are all veterans,” Mrs Curtis said.

“Look people straight in the eye and tell them how proud you are to have served your country.”

Mrs Curtis believes the perception of females and young males participating in Anzac Day marches is slowly changing.

“With every generation it’s different, each generation has its new outlook,” she said.

“You have to take people as they are, times have changed.”

Kellie Dadds hopes the By the Left campaign will change the perception.

“When someone sees an individual wearing their medals on the left side the first thing they should think of is to go up to them, shake their hand and to say thank you for their service,” she said.

Despite the campaign being relatively new, she was very happy with its progress so far.

“It’s a good start, but change takes time,” she said.