From: DVA Mailing List
Sent: Tue 18/10/2011 4:36 PM

NEW EXHIBITION TOUR SHOWCASES INDIGENOUS WAR SERVICE

The stories of Indigenous men and women who have served Australia from the Boer War through to Afghanistan will be shared in a new travelling exhibition launched today by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon.

In Mildura, Mr Snowdon said the highly-acclaimed Shrine of Remembrance Indigenous Australians at war: from the Boer War to the present exhibition will help increase Australians’ understanding of the important role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have played in our wartime history.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have served in all major wars, conflicts and peace operations since the Boer War and a number have received medals and commendations for acts of bravery.

“This exhibition highlights the courage, tenacity and resourcefulness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who served in the armed forces by presenting individual and family stories of service and sacrifice,” he said.

While an individual’s ethnicity was not identified on service records, there were some units in the Second World War, such as the Torres Strait Islander Light Infantry Battalion and the Northern Australian Observer Unit, that specifically included Indigenous Australians in their ranks.

In the post-war years the North West Mobile Force, 51 Far North Queensland Regiment and the Pilbara Regiment are among the units that have continued to rely heavily on the skills of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

“Their readiness to enlist particularly in the early part of last century, in the face of discrimination and the lack of any official recognition, demonstrates the willingness of Indigenous people to serve this country,” Mr Snowdon said.

“It is important to recognise the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to the defence of Australia and I am pleased that the Australian Government has been able to support this new exhibition,” he said.

Opening in Mildura, the two-year exhibition will tour to Beechworth, Hamilton and Portland before moving to other regional areas of Victoria.

The Australian Government provided more than $53,000 towards the travelling exhibition and the development and implementation of an Australian schools based education resource based on the landmark exhibition Indigenous Australians at War, displayed at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne last year.

For more information about the Indigenous war service and the tour, visit www.dva.gov.au or www.shrine.org.au

Media Note: Images are available from the DVA Media Centre www.dva.gov.au/media.


Media inquiries:
Minister Snowdon: Alice Plate 0400 045 999 or 02 6277 7820
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203