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Indigenous Anzac Day 2004
Title : Indigenous Anzac Day 2004 Indigenous Anzac Day 2004
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Creator : Tongerie, George
Source : Anzac Day - South Australia 2004 [ videorecording]
Place Of Creation : Adelaide, SA
Publisher : SA Department of Premier and Cabinet
Date of creation : 2004
Additional Creator : Stasiuk, Glen
Format : Manuscript
Catalogue record
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Copyright : This item is reproduced courtesy of Uncle George Tongerie. It may be printed or saved for research or study. Use for any other purpose requires written permission from Uncle George Tongerie and the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.
Description :

An Indigenous Anzac Day event was held at the Institute Lecture Theatre in Adelaide SA on Friday morning, 23 April 2004. It commemorated the involvement of indigenous people in wartime and their recognition by all South Australians. Kenny Laughton, indigenous Vietnam Veteran, was facilitator during proceedings. He introduced Uncle Lewis O'Brien (who extended a Kaurna welcome) and Uncle George Tongerie, vice-president of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans Association, who spoke on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of the Armed Forces. Minister for Families & Communities, Hon Jay Weatherill, spoke on behalf of the South Australian Government.

Uncle George Tongerie, vice-president of the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Veterans Association, presented the following speech:

The Honourable Mike Rann Premier of South Australia, All Ex-Service Women-Men and their families, Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen.

It is a real privilege to be able to say a few words today on behalf of my Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sisters and brothers who served in the Armed Forces in defence of Australia, over the last 100 years.

I have already had the opportunity to review this documentary called the Forgotten and was pleased with what it reported.

The history of any major world event must be reported from all points of view. This documentary, will serve as a good educational tool. It faithfully reminds us that in these major conflicts the first nation peoples of Australia were prepared in great numbers - to enlist and fight the enemy alongside their non-Aboriginal friends and neighbours. We made this effort, many giving their lives in the process, for most of these engagements without being recognised as citizens in our own land. We had to wait until the 1967 Referendum for that to be recognized.

War is an intensely personal and defining experience. It leaves its mark on you.

I Was 17 years old when I volunteered. Not having a birth certificate enabled me to join up. A rare occasion when lack of recognition actually helped me to get started on something I wanted to do.

I served 4 years in New Guinea and Borneo with a Dive Bomber Squadron. It was a high-risk business. Still as I confronted challenges later in life it helped me to keep them in perspective.

This documentary still creates a sense of sadness.

Decorations for acts of courage, putting on the uniform, medals awarded for service were not adequately reported following the great conflicts.

As Indigenous Ex-Service men and women we returned from the war to an often-unsympathetic community.

It was much more than the business of not being able to front the bar for a beer with your mates. I, like many, did not drink! It was incredibly hurtful not to be officially recognised as equals and treated as such, after representing your Country at War.

We must continue to learn from this!

I am Vice President of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans Association and march regularly on ANZAC Day.

We are proud today as we Honour and recognise the sacrifice our sisters and brothers made over the years.

I believe our contribution as Indigenous people at War, promoted in this documentary will help young Australians to understand the very real contribution my people made.

I congratulate the film maker Mt Glen Stasiuk for filling the gaps .

And thank you Ladies and Gentlemen for the opportunity today to speak on behalf of my sisters and brothers who served in all Wars and their Families.

Lest we forget.

Period : 2001-
Further reading :

Pavils, J. G. (Janice Gwenllian) Anzac Day: the undying debt Adelaide: Lythrum Press, 2007

Kartinyeri, Doreen Ngarrindjeri Anzacs Adelaide: Aboriginal Family History Project, South Australian Museum and Raukkan Council, 1996

Internet links :

Australians at War [Department of Veterans' Affairs]

Australian War Memorialsee: Encyclopedia: Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders in the Australian Defence Force; Anzac Day

Indigenous Australians at War [Garth O'Connell and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies]



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