Photography by Ian Wilson.
The ‘Poppy Dress,’ as it’s known, travelled to Ballarat from ANZAC House in Melbourne for the occasion.
On display at the Ballarat Town Hall, the Doris Day-style dress was handmade by an A-list designer for RSL Victoria. It comprises 2,000 Poppy Appeal poppies and weighs approximately seven kilograms.
It first debuted about a decade ago, modelled by Olympic Gold Medal swimmer Giaan Rooney, flanked by RSL veterans. Since then, it has featured in several Poppy Appeal campaigns with other celebrities, veterans and their families.
Frank Nuccio is the Senior Vice President and Appeals Officer of the Ballarat RSL. He says the dress is a talking point and will generate discussion about importance of the poppy.
“It’s something different. It’s a way for people to understand the significance of the poppy and to explore its history and why it’s the symbol we use for this time of year.”
In a great display of collaboration, Sub-Branches Ballarat, Sebastopol and Buninyong have joined forces to achieve the best possible outcome for the annual Poppy Appeal.
“We all work together to do the best we can for the veterans. The RSL should be the home that veterans come to for help,” says Frank.
The RSL’s work is made possible with 100% of the proceeds from every poppy sold going directly to support veterans and their families when they need it most.
“Please understand that we live in a community where there’s still veterans from WW2 all the way up to Afghanistan and Iraq that need help. This is one of the ways we can help them,” he says.
A chance meeting with Sebastopol’s Assistant Appeals Officer Kevin Scott was a lightbulb moment.
“We looked at one another and said ‘Well, why don’t we join forces?” says Frank.
“What we need to do is work for the one common goal - veterans,” says Kevin.
By combining the Sub-Branches for this year’s Poppy Appeal, they’ll have a broader network of volunteers to sell poppies and cover more ground.
Kevin says there are many veterans with a diverse range of needs.
“Whether it be financial, or need a walking aid, wheelchair, lawnmowing or whatever it may be. Without these vital funds, they won’t get the help they require.”
He says it’s a privilege to see the direct impact of the RSL’s assistance – which can be life-changing
“Nothing is greater or more rewarding for me to know that a veteran we helped, for example, can pay of his debts and can wake up in the morning and not have thoughts of how they are going to manage or what’s going to happen next.”
Wanting this year’s Poppy Appeal to be bigger and better than ever, Frank and Kevin would like to see everyone digging deep to look after those who have given so much to Australia over so many years.