THE HON. WARREN SNOWDON MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Member for Lingiari
Friday, 31 May 2013
SERVICE OF INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS REMEMBERED
The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Warren Snowdon has asked that all Australians recognise the contribution made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women this National Reconciliation Week, 27 May – 3 June 2013.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have served Australia in conflicts and peacekeeping operations from the Boer War to the present day. The contribution they made serving their country is all the more noteworthy when viewed against their lack of citizenship rights and early policies that discouraged and limited their enlistment.
“Unfortunately, the exact number of Indigenous Australians who have served our country is unknown, but it is estimated that more than 3,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders served in the First and Second World Wars, with many more serving since,” Mr Snowdon said.
The theme for this year’s Reconciliation week is recognition. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) believes that it is important that all Australians understand and recognise the contribution made by Indigenous veterans in times of both war and peace, as well as recognising how they were treated during and after their service.
“Commemorating the service and sacrifice of all Australian servicemen and women, irrespective of their background, is and always will be an important part of our culture, and the role of Indigenous servicemen and women will forever remain an important part of our military history,” Mr Snowdon said.
DVA is working closely with the Australian War Memorial to recognise the efforts of all Indigenous Australians by working to identify all those who have served Australia in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations and record their names on a Roll of Honour.
Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Senator David Feeney, paid tribute to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women by laying a wreath at the Seventh Annual Indigenous Veterans Commemoration Ceremony at the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park Sydney.
“I encourage any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veteran, or their families, to come forward and contact DVA to have their service acknowledged and to also ensure they are accessing the support and services available to them.
“It is an honour to participate in today’s commemoration ceremony. I ask that we all take a moment to pause, reflect and recognise the service of Indigenous Australians,” Senator Feeney said.
Media inquiries: Minister Snowdon (Marcus Butler) 02 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203