Caroline Bartlett, inaugural Director of the Sir John Monash Centre, has been invested as a Knight of the French National Order of Merit in recognition of her service to the Defence and veteran communities.
Based in France for six years, the Franco-Australian led the Sir John Monash Centre construction project for twenty-four months before joining the Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs as Director of the Sir John Monash Centre.
She worked to develop and consolidate Franco-Australian relations, to ensure the support of local communities, and to create lasting partnerships with partners in France and Belgium. The Order of Merit award recognises her commitment to preserving the memory of the men and women who fought on the Western Front during the First World War.
The investiture ceremony was held on 7 December 2021 at the French Embassy in Canberra, Australia, in the presence of her family and close friends, her colleagues, representatives of the French and Australian governments, and Andrew Gee MP, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel.
‘It was an honour to attend,’ he said.
‘Ms Bartlett was integral in the establishment of the Sir John Monash Centre in France, where people from all over the world can learn more about the Australian experience of war on the Western Front during the First World War.’
General de Gaulle, as President of the French Republic, founded the National Order of Merit on 3 December 1963. It is the second French national order, after the Legion of Honour, and is awarded by the French President to French and foreign nationals, both military and civil.
After receiving the medal from the French Ambassador, Caroline Bartlett paid tribute to the collaboration of her teams, with whom she worked for remembrance: ‘this recognition is a wonderful testament to the dedicated teams I had the privilege of working with to ensure the memory of the service and sacrifice of Australia’s servicemen and women on the Western Front is preserved for future generations.’
The team at the Sir John Monash Centre would like to thank Caroline, who can be justifiably proud of her contribution to the success of this unique interpretation centre and to the visibility of Australia and France. Her involvement in France has been inspirational and we will continue to develop Franco-Australian relations and to honour the memory of those Australians who served on the Western Front more than 100 years ago.