Sep 29, 2010

Aboriginals of Australia: New Memorial in Honour of Aboriginal Soldiers

Significant number of indigenous soldiers from South-West of Austrialia died during WWI. Warranmbool to recognize their supreme sacrifice.  

Below is an article published by the Standard


Regional Victoria's first dedicated memorial to Aboriginal soldiers is being built in Warrnambool to officially recognise contributions of the indigenous community in the past century.

It sits on the Cannon Hill reserve adjacent to the city's main war memorial and will be officially opened on November 1 [2010] in a traditional ceremony with key Aboriginal elders from across Victoria and interstate.

The south-west has a rich history of indigenous participation with 27 of 67 Victorian Aboriginal soldiers enlistments in the First World War from the region. Several of them were decorated for bravery awards.

Records show significant enlistments from the indigenous community in all other major wars since.

Warrnambool City Council has funded construction of the memorial which will feature a brass plaque mounted on a bluestone pillar, a seat, landscaping with native plants and flagpoles.

It was prompted by Warrnambool teacher and historian Peter Bakker along with Koorie elder Rob Lowe senior.

They said the feature would bring long-overdue recognition of contributions by members of south-west Aboriginal families to the nation.

"We hope this will become part of the history lessons taught in schools," Mr Lowe said.

"Many people in the general community would be unaware of the significant contribution by Aboriginal people in war efforts.

"Our people were being massacred in Australia while other Aborigines were fighting under the national flag on foreign soil."

Mr Bakker said he realised the significance of the indigenous contribution to the war efforts when he saw a picture in the Warrnambool RSL of Framlingham's Reg Rawlings, one of only two Aboriginal soldiers to win a bravery medal in the First World War.

"I looked up his history and realised how many other Aboriginal soldiers there were," Mr Bakker said.

"So far in my research I have found 67 and there are more to be verified.

"Of these 27 were born in the south-west and there were others who enlisted here.