Remembering first nations people who have served
AUSTRALIANS are encouraged to reflect on the service of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people during National Reconciliation Week.
Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Minister Darren Chester said the week’s theme of ‘In This Together’ perfectly represented how indigenous men and women have served alongside non-Indigenous men and women for more than 120 years.
This includes Australian South Sea Islanders from Mackay who are listed on a memorial plaque at the South Sea Islanders Hall at the Botanic Gardens.
One such soldier was William Gorman of Baker’s Creek who served with the 9th Battalion – among the first wave of Anzacs to land at Gallipoli Cove in World War I.
Among the Aboriginal soldiers from Mackay was Private Frank Morris of Walkerston, who served in the 11th Light Horse Regiment in WW1.
But despite their service, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not classed as Australian citizens until 1967.
“While wearing the uniform indigenous men and women were treated with respect and dignity, however, tragically this was not the case in their civilian lives,” Mr Chester said.
“Today, I am proud that the Australian Defence Force boasts more than 1800 full-time permanent Australian Defence Force members.”