Three politicians leading students on a trip to a lost part of our history

Labor Member for Blaxland Jason Clare, Liberal Member for Cook Scott Morrison and Independent Member for Lyne Rob Oakeshott will take four young people from each of their electorates on the Sandakan Death March tomorrow.

The Governor of NSW, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO is the patron of the Sandakan Mateship Trek.

Mr Clare said it was important for Australians to understand the significance of Sandakan.

“The Sandakan Death March is the single worst atrocity in Australian military history,” Mr Clare said.

“More than 1,000 sick and starving POWs were forced to march 260 km from Sandakan to Ranau in 1945.

“Those who couldn’t keep up were shot or bayoneted. Only six Australians survived.

“It’s a chapter of our history that is not well known and is not often told. We are taking the students on this trek to help change that.”

“It is important that this tragic event is remembered by young Australians,” Mr Morrison said.

“The Diggers who died on the Sandakan march made the ultimate sacrifice for us and helped to preserve the freedom we enjoy today.

“The Mateship Trek is an opportunity to not only learn about and commemorate the sacrifice of our Diggers but also about appreciating the values that bind us as a nation.”

Mr Oakeshott, whose grandfather Captain John Oakeshott was among more than 15 men murdered at Sandakan two weeks after Victory in the Pacific, said he was looking forward to joining the students and two of his parliamentary colleagues for the trek.

“The four students representing the Mid-North Coast are all of local aboriginal descent, covering the Dunghutti, Biripai, and Worimi lands. They met up for the first time this week and they are all good young people doing good things.

“Together with the students accompanying Mr Clare and Mr Morrison, this will be a diverse group who will come back with more knowledge of each other, themselves, and the values that Australian soldiers at war fought for.”

The students who will be going are:

Blaxland electorate

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  • Sam Jalloh from Punchbowl
  • Katherine Kopsaris from Bankstown
  • Chanel Steiner from Bankstown
  • Issa Jebara from Granville South

Cook electorate

  • Elyse Murphy from Woronora
  • Brett Stephen from Gymea
  • James Biasetto from Caringbah
  • Michael Cuciti from Cronulla

Lyne electorate

  • Liam Carney from Wingham
  • James White from Port Macquarie
  • Tommaya Kelly-Sines from Kempsey
  • Kyia Eveleigh from Gloucester