House debates

Monday, 22 October 2018

Statements by Members

Indigenous Soldiers

4:04 pm

Photo of Cathy McGowanCathy McGowan (Indi, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

Earlier this year grades 3, 4, 5 and 6 students at St. Bernard's Primary School in Wangaratta read the storybook Alfred's War by Rachel Bin Salleh. It's the story of an Aboriginal World War I veteran who suffered as a result of his experiences in the war and highlights the thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who served Australia during that war.

The students felt strongly enough about the lack of recognition for these veterans that, with the advice of their teacher, Ms Stubberfield, they wrote to me. Ethan wrote:

I think all soldiers should be remembered because of their service, no matter what their race, as long as they help our country.

Milli wrote:

Please try and make Anzac Day more about all the soldiers ... You can mention Aboriginal soldiers in the marches and you can play clapping sticks.

Xavier wrote:

What if an Aboriginal was related to you that fought in the war and wasn't remembered?

Grace wrote:

I didn't know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders fought in World War I, which tells me that they need to be recognised a lot more.

And Seth wrote:

When it was the Great War, Aboriginals were not remembered at Anzac Day ceremonies.

To all the students at St Bernard's, thank you for caring, thank you for writing to me and thank you most of all for acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Colleagues, as we gather on the 11th of the 11th a hundred years later, let's remember the service of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander soldiers.