From: Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Mailing List
Sent: Fri 25/05/2012 9:00 AM

REMEMBERING OUR ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER VETERANS

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, today encouraged Australians to recognise the contribution Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women have made in serving the country, during National Reconciliation Week, 27 May – 3 June 2012.

Mr Snowdon said Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander sailors, soldiers, airmen and women have been part of Australia’s wartime history dating back to the Boer War.

“Reconciliation Week is an opportunity to reflect on the important contribution Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women have made in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations including current operations in Afghanistan,” he said.

“Unfortunately though, there is no official record of how many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have served for Australia, as identifying ethnicity has never been a requirement for enlistment, by all estimates it has been many thousands.

“Captain Reg Saunders is perhaps one of the most well known Aboriginal servicemen. He was the first Aboriginal military officer in the Australian Defence Force, serving in Libya, Greece and Crete in the Second World War and later in the Korean War.

“Corporal Norman Womal served with 5 Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment during the Vietnam War. Even after being wounded he continued to direct the fire of machine-gunners, and received a posthumous Mention in Despatches for his bravery.

“These two men are among many shining examples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women in our armed forces. Today approximately 800 current serving men and women identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.”

Memorial Ceremonies will be held around the country during Reconciliation Week:

Sydney - 11.00am, Friday, 25 May 2012 Anzac Memorial Pool of Reflection, Hyde Park
Brisbane - 11.00am, Wednesday 30 May 2012 Anzac Square
Perth - 10.00am, Wednesday, 30 May 2012 Kings Park War Memorial
Melbourne - 11.00am, Thursday, 31 May 2012 Shrine of Remembrance
Adelaide - 10.30am, Friday, 1 June 2012 National War Memorial

For more information on DVA support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans visit www.dva.gov.au/Indigenous

Media inquiries: Minister Snowdon: Marcus Butler 02 6277 7820 / 0417 917 796
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203