This page features a variety of short videos relating to the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people serving Country from the Boer War to today.
Over 400,000 Australians enlisted to fight in the Great War. Despite being shunned by society at the time, more than 1,000 of these Australians were Indigenous.
Recognition of Indigenous Service
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a long tradition of fighting for Country, and continue to serve with honour among our military forces.
Centenary Welcome Ceremony
The Centenary Welcome Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial saw samples of shells, soil and sand collected from around the country placed in the For our Country – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander memorial, as an acknowledgment of our presence on the Country of traditional custodians around Australia.
The Art of Remembrance
Presented by Nate Byrne, The Art of Remembrance sees Australia’s war stories vividly brought to life, the artists and their work adding colour and insight to our military history.
Australian War Memorial Curator Garth O'Connell discusses how he was able to identify David Harris as the subject of Stella Bowen’s portrait of an unnamed Aboriginal serviceman.
First Nations flyers: Australian Aboriginal pilots and aircrew during the Second World War
At least four known Aboriginal pilots and aircrew flew operational missions as members of the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War. These men flew a diverse mix of aircraft over the Mediterranean, Pacific, and European theatres of war. This special talk, delivered during NAIDOC Week 2019, takes a look at each member, the aircraft they flew, and what became of them.
Honouring Warrior Spirits
The service and sacrifice of the Australian Army’s Indigenous soldiers from WW1 have been commemorated in a new documentary, Honouring Warrior Spirits, which was released by the Australian Army for National Reconciliation Week 2019.
For Country, for Nation: Rosie Ware
In 2014, the Memorial commissioned Senior Torres Strait Islander Rosie Ware to retrospectively interpret the experience of the Second World War and its legacy in the Torres Strait. Working predominantly in lino-block, handpainted fabrics that combine traditional Torres Strait cultural production and symbolism with non-Indigenous imagery, Ware has drawn on her own family history of military service.
Telling their Stories
Indigenous Liaison Officer Michael Bell explains the significance of the painting Kulatangku angakanyini manta munu Tjukurpa [Country and Culture will be protected by spears], commissioned by the Memorial and painted by artists from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands in South Australia. This video accompanied the Australian War Memorial exhibition ‘Telling Their Stories’, which looked at the changing way that the Memorial has told the stories of Australia’s servicemen and servicewomen over time.
Colonel Tim Rutherford, National Security Division, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Ms Eileen Deemal-Hall, Director Jervis Bay Territory administration, discuss and the role of cross cultural understanding in Australia’s military. This special talk was delivered during NAIDOC Week 2020.
Tony Albert: Norforce Commission
In May 2012 Tony Albert became the Memorial's first Indigenous official war artist, the first deployed with NORFORCE and the first artist to cover the activities of the Australian defence Force on Australian soil since the end of the Second World War.
'Working together: a shared story of service’ presented by Colonel Tim Rutherford
Colonel Rutherford discusses the strong connection between the Wujal Wujal Aboriginal community and the 51st Battalion, Far North Queensland Regiment. Learn about the songlines connecting two of the area’s First World War soldiers to today’s servicemen and servicewomen, highlighting the service and sacrifice of their people in defence of Country. This special talk was delivered during NAIDOC Week 2019.
In Plain Sight - Ron Bradfield
To celebrate NAIDOC week 2019 the Australian War Memorial was very proud to interview over Zoom the Indigenous artist Ron Bradfield (Bardi) regarding his work ‘In Plain Sight’ which he was awarded Highly Commended in the Napier Waller Art Prize 2020. This year's theme #AlwaysWasAlwaysWillBe recognises the sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their remarkable, ongoing custodianship of this country for more than 65,000 years.
For Country, For Nation. Artist, Andy Snelgar
In 2016, the Memorial commissioned Canberra born, Ngemba man, Andy Snelgar to produce two warrior kits for the special exhibition For Country, For Nation that tell the ancestral story of the tribal importance of tool and object making to defend and protect country. His work includes both hard and soft wood carvings, fashioned into shields, boomerangs, woomeras and clubs.