A smoking ceremony held at the Australian War Memorial in late March marked the completion of major reconstructive works in the commemorative area, highlighting links to country, service and sacrifice.
Director Brendan Nelson said the work included the reconstruction and replacement of the original 26 stone-carved figures, designed by artist Leslie Bowles in 1939, which featured Australian fauna, as well as the faces of an Aboriginal man and woman.
“The intent of the sculptures was to represent the original custodians of the land and evoke the spirit of Australia,” he said.
“These figures are an acknowledgement of Australia’s Aboriginal people and their stewardship of the land and its creatures at the heart of the Memorial.”
Able Seaman Boatswain's Mate Murray Hall, of the Fleet Support Unit at Sydney’s HMAS Kuttabul, attended the ceremony and said it was done well.
“The ceremony was important because Indigenous people should be recognised for their service to their country – we need more events like this,” he said.
“Ever since the First World War, many Indigenous Australians have gone to war, but they didn’t get recognised until the 1960s, so it’s important now we recognise more and more Indigenous involvement in Defence.
“My grandad served in the Air Force during Vietnam and my dad and uncles served in the Army.
“I’m very proud of my grandad’s Vietnam service – he used to tell me stories all the time about it.”
The War Memorial currently has a exhibition focusing on Indigenous service - For Country, for Nation, which runs until September.