From: Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Mailing List
Sent: Sun 24/04/2011 10:08 AM

RECOGNITION OF WAR SERVICE OF ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER AUSTRALIANS

Today the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, announced that the contribution of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders who have served in the nation’s armed forces will be honoured by three special projects.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defence force personnel have served with great distinction overseas in both world wars and other conflicts, and over the years a number have been recognised with bravery awards.

“It is vital that their efforts are more widely known, and these new grants show the Australian Government’s commitment to ensure this happens,” Mr Snowdon said.

The Australian Government will fund an education resource for Australian schools based on the landmark exhibition Indigenous Australians at War, displayed at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne last year. A tour of this highly-acclaimed exhibition to regional Victoria will also be funded.

“The exhibition celebrated the courage, tenacity and resourcefulness of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders by presenting individual and family stories of service and sacrifice. The education resource will increase the understanding of young Australians about the significant and important role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have played in defending Australia,” he said.

The Australian Government will also fund a permanent display of ‘Nackeroo’ wartime and NORFORCE memorabilia at the Darwin Military Museum. This display will recognise the work of the 2/1st North Australia Observation Unit – nicknamed the Nackeroos – which patrolled large areas of northern Australia during the Second World War.

“Like NORFORCE today, the Nackeroos had a strategic as well as a tactical role to perform reconnaissance, scouting and surveillance across the Kimberley and Northern Territory.

“At its peak the unit consisted of some 550 men and employed 59 Indigenous workers as guides and labourers. When NORFORCE was established in 1981 it acknowledged the link to its wartime counterpart by incorporating the Nackeroo's orange and green 'double diamond' into its own colour patch.

“A further link between the Nackeroos and NORFORCE is the heavy reliance on the commitment and local knowledge of Indigenous Australians to fulfil its role. Some 60 per cent of NORFORCE personnel have an Indigenous background,” Mr Snowdon said.

For more information about the Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ grants programs and education resources, visit the website: www.dva.gov.au

Media inquiries: Alice Plate 0400 045 999