Reconciliation Week at the Australian War Memorial
Published: Tue 21 May 2013
The following are free events and bookings are not required.
- Last Post ceremony
Monday 27 May, Tuesday 28 May, Wednesday 29 May, Saturday 1 June, Sunday 2 June
Commemorative Area, 4.50 pm
Many Indigenous personnel have fought and lost their lives while serving Australia. Their names are listed on the Roll of Honour. Hear their personal stories at the Last Post ceremony.
These ceremonies are streamed live daily on the Memorial’s website.
- Gallery talks
Tuesday 28 May and Thursday 30 May
Orientation Gallery, 11.30 am
Join a walk-and-talk tour giving an overview of Indigenous service in the Australian Defence Force, with emphasis on the service of Aboriginal Australians in the First Australian Imperial Force in the First World War.
- Public talk – Indigenous service in the First Australian Imperial Force
Sunday 2 June
BAE Systems Theatre, 11.30 am
Join the Memorial’s Indigenous Liaison Officer, Gary Oakley, as he explores the service and sacrifice of Indigenous servicemen and women in the First Australian Imperial Force in the First World War.
It may never be known exactly how many Indigenous Australians served in the Australian Defence Force, as ethnicity was never required to be documented when enlisting. Even today in the Australian Defence Force, identifying yourself as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is voluntary.
It is estimated that approximately 1,000 Indigenous Australians fought in the First World War, though this number is probably low.
The Australian Imperial Force treated Aboriginal soldiers as equals and paid them the same as white soldiers. While serving in uniform alongside their white mates, they were generally accepted without prejudice.
Some who tried to enlist were rejected on the grounds of race. This did not deter others who still managed to enlist. Some even travelled to other states to do so after they were denied the chance at recruiting centres closer to their communities.
This talk will inform the general public about an unknown and secret history in relation to Australia’s first peoples.
For more information, please visit www.awm.gov.au or call (02) 6243 4473.