Indigenous veterans past and present were remembered on 29 May at a commemoration held at the Western Australian State War Memorial in Kings Park, Perth.
The event, which this year had the theme ‘Grounded in Truth, Walk Together with Courage’, was held during National Reconciliation Week and attracted hundreds of veterans, school students, serving Australian Defence Force personnel and members of the public.
Following the Welcome to Country by Aboriginal Elder Uncle Mort Hansen, the Governor of Western Australia, the Honourable Kim Beazley AC spoke about the significance of the day.
“This is Reconciliation Week, which should have the sub-heading of Knowledge Week, when the broader community gets to understand the important contribution of our Indigenous community to the nation’s survival and happiness,” he said.
“The presence of Indigenous men and women in Australia’s armed forces was little-known publicly until three quarters of the way through the last century, however subsequent research has uncovered a record of Indigenous service dating back to the start of the Commonwealth era in 1901.”
Governor Beazley said as well as serving in both world wars, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have also served in every conflict and commitment involving Australia since Federation, as well as during the intervals of peace since WWII.
“And their children have continued their service throughout many wars and conflicts to this day, with Defence statistics showing that the number of Indigenous men and women serving in our Defence Force has been increasing since the 1990s,” he said.
The ceremony, which was hosted by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans and Services Association President Aunty Di Ryder, included a number of musical recitals by various Perth primary schools, and dancers from Wesley College.
The event concluded with a traditional smoking ceremony conducted by Uncle Mort Hansen, and the Wesley College dancers.
Imagery is available on the Defence Image Gallery: