For Our Country

This article has photo gallery Published on LSIS James McDougall (author and photographer)

Location(s): Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Topic(s): Naval Heritage and History, Australian War Memorial

Sarpeye dancers of the Australian Army's Charlie Company, 51st Battalion, Far North Queensland Regiment; and the Navy Bungaree Indigenous Performance Group at the dedication of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander memorial at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. (photo: LSIS James McDougall)
Sarpeye dancers of the Australian Army's Charlie Company, 51st Battalion, Far North Queensland Regiment; and the Navy Bungaree Indigenous Performance Group at the dedication of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander memorial at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

A new memorial honouring the service and sacrifices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has been dedicated in the Sculpture Garden of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

‘For Our Country’, a sculptural pavilion, was designed by indigenous artist Daniel Boyd, a Kudjla/ Gangalu/ Kuku Yalanji/ Jagara/ Wangerriburra/ Bandjalung man from North Queensland, together with Melbourne based architecture studio: Edition Office Architects.

Indigenous author and historian, Dr Jackie Huggins, of the Bidjara Central Queensland and Birri-Gubba Juru North Queensland peoples, performed the dedication.

In his address to those gathered, Chief of the Australian Defence Force, General Angus Campbell spoke of the distinguished service indigenous men and women have given to the nation.

“For many, service in the Australian Defence Force was their first experience of equality.

“They wore the same uniform. They did the same training. They had the same opportunities, they supported and were supported by their comrades.

“They were as good as anyone.

“Currently, we have more than 1500 Indigenous men and women serving in the Navy, Army and Air Force. We welcome their service,” General Campbell said.

Petty Officer Communications Information Systems Sam Shepherd from HMAS Sirius said the new pavilion will hold a significant meaning amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The pavilion provides for that spiritual, physical and cultural connection with our indigenous service men and women who have served this country in times of conflict and in peace time operations.

“To have a unique place of reflection at the spiritual home of our country’s war history makes me feel very proud, as an indigenous serviceman,” Petty Officer Shepherd said.

George Anderson, who served in Vietnam with 3RAR, said he was very proud to be at the dedication.

“I’m very proud to represent my Indigenous brothers at the Australian War Memorial.

“It’s a great day for not only indigenous, but also non-indigenous veterans, to have a central pavilion to for us all to reflect and remember,” he said. 

Indigenous people have served in all conflicts and operations since Australia’s federation, and with the Royal Australian Navy since World War II.

Additional imagery is available on the Defence Image Gallery: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20190674.