The South Sydney Rabbitohs are supporting the Defence Care Poppy Appeal, helping to honour Remembrance Day today (Friday).

Remembrance Day honours those who have fought for freedom, and the Rabbitohs are encouraging everyone to wear a poppy and pause at 11am today, Friday 11 November, in honour of the fallen and pause to reflect on the selfless sacrifices that thousands of men and women have made in years past.

Australians are encouraged to purchase a poppy for Remembrance Day and to support the Defence Care Poppy Appeal at www.poppyshop.org.au.

Money raised from the appeal is used directly to help Australian service men and women returning from service with physical or mental illnesses and injuries.

The Australian Kangaroos are also getting behind the Poppy Appeal, with Australian captain Cameron Smith recording a video message of support.

The campaign encourages all Australians to “Remember this November” by donating and receiving a poppy from volunteers or online at www.poppyshop.org.au. It will also seek to educate younger Australians on the significance of the poppy and the work RSL NSW & RSL DefenceCare do to support returned servicemen and women.

In 2016, the Poppy Appeal will be led by Afghanistan veteran and double amputee Damien Thomlinson. Thomlinson is an RSL DefenceCare Ambassador and has rebuilt his life following the devastating injuries suffered while serving. He represents the many modern day veterans who have returned to Australia following their service and requiring support. He is also part of the ensemble cast of soon to be released Hollywood war epic, Hacksaw Ridge, directed by Mel Gibson.

The Red Poppy has special significance for Australians. Worn on Remembrance Day each year, the red poppies were among the first to flower in the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium following the First World War. In soldiers’ folklore, the vivid red of the poppy came from the blood of their comrades soaking the ground. The Red Poppy has since been accepted as the emblem of remembrance, and this year will be on a bigger range of merchandise than ever before, giving Aussies unprecedented choice in how they show their support.

This year will also see an increased focus on the role animals have played serving in our armed forces. Service animals are traditionally remembered with a purple poppy and this year RSL NSW & RSL DefenceCare are encouraging people to buy a purple poppy for their pets.

“From Simpson’s donkey to the bomb detecting dogs serving in Afghanistan, animals have always played an important role in Australia’s armed forces. This year the poppy appeal will recognise and remember a number of animals who served including Sarbi and Herbie, two explosive detection dogs that served in Afghanistan,” said Robyn Collins, General Manager, RSL DefenceCare.

RSL DefenceCare’s aim is to help families get through tough times and will continue helping as long as it is needed. Importantly, 50% of funds raised across NSW during the Poppy Appeal remains in the local communities in which these Poppies are sold, with the remaining funds helping veterans across NSW.

Australian service men and women can return from service with physical and mental illnesses and injuries. Some can find it difficult to transition to civilian life. Finding a new job, dealing with mental and physical injuries or experiencing financial hardship can lead to significant stress and trauma. Sadly, some members also lose their lives while serving, shattering the hopes and dreams of their families, especially their partners and children.

Social Media will play a key role in this year’s campaign with people encouraged to post pictures while wearing a poppy badge or scarf using the hashtags #mypoppypops and #remembernovember. Those with pets who choose a purple poppy can show their support using the hashtags #poppies4puppies and #poppies4pets.

“The Poppy Appeal is one of the longest running and most iconic fundraising campaigns in Australia. The Appeal helps younger Australians connect with our nation’s heritage and helps highlight the work RSL DefenceCare does,” said Robyn Collins.

“This year we will be increasing our engagement on social media and with young veterans who can help tell the story of the Poppy’s significance to a new generation. Everyone will be invited to get involved in the campaign by posting pictures wearing Poppies,” she said.

“We are also encouraging corporates, government departments and organisations to donate and receive poppy for every staff member, showing their support for those who have sacrificed so much for our country.”

The social media campaign will be supported by a PR campaign telling the stories of the servicemen, women and animals featured on this year’s Poppy cards.  Each has a unique story to tell about their background, their deeds on the battlefield or their sacrifice. 

Finally, in what promises to be a visual spectacle, the sails of the Sydney Opera House will be illuminated with a projection of a field of poppies at 8pm tonight (Friday).