Aboriginal servicemen and women have today been honoured as part of the tenth Victorian Aboriginal Remembrance Service.
Addressing the service, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Natalie Hutchins said the event was an opportunity to pay tribute to their service, which for too long had gone unrecognised. His Excellency the Honourable Alex Chernov AC QC, Governor of Victoria was in attendance at the service.
Elder Aunty Dot Peters first initiated the service in 2006 to honour Aboriginal Victorians who had served in the defence of Australia, including her father who died while serving on the Thai Burma Railway in World War II.
At the time it was the only ceremony that commemorated Aboriginal men and women who had served with the Australian Defence Force.
Since the Boer War in 1899, more than 5,000 Aboriginal people have defended Australia in a variety of conflicts and peacekeeping operations.
Ms Hutchins also launched the Victorian Aboriginal Service Research Project, which will collect and collate the personal stories of Aboriginal Victorians who served in the military.
The project is jointly funded by the Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria ($20,000) and Veterans’ Affairs ($25,000) within the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Quotes attributable to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Natalie Hutchins
“For too long the contributions of Aboriginal Australians to our wartime history were ignored or dismissed. This event is an important opportunity to reflect upon their service and sacrifice.”
“The service of Aboriginal Victorians is an important and valued part of our state’s wartime history, all Victorians should learn more about their stories.”
Quotes attributable to the Minister for Veterans Affairs, John Eren
“In this, the Centenary of Anzac, the Victorian Aboriginal Service Research Project will give greater understanding of the important contributions of Aboriginal servicemen and women.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020