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2014 Redfern Aboriginal ANZAC Day Commemoration March

by Ray Minniecon 31 March 2014

Private Fredrick Beale (left) and Private George Henry Beale of the 2/20th Battalion. Private George Beale died from injuries sustained in 1943, while working as a prisoner in Japan. The brothers were cousins of Gunner Percy. (Australian War Memorial)

he Redfern Aboriginal ANZAC Day Commemoration is held each year by Redfern’s Aboriginal community to honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and servicewomen and those who served in nonmilitary support roles. The Unknown Soldier is the main focus of this year’s Redfern event. This year we honour our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Diggers who fought bravely alongside their mates and now lie overseas and unknown - far from their own Country. Respect is also paid every year to the women and other family members – and especially to the grandmothers, mothers, aunties and

sistas - who kept our families and communities together while loved ones were away and after they returned. Everyone is affected by war. Some make the ultimate sacrifice - never to return. Some return but

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Program: Friday 25th April 2014 1.45pm - Welcome to Country and Redfern Park War Memorial Wreath Laying. 2.00pm - March from Redfern Park to The Block. 2.30pm - Remembrance ceremony at the Redfern Community Centre. 4.00pm - Light entertainment and refreshments. 4:30pm - Close

never recover. For them and their families, the effects of war linger years after their homecoming. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women and their families have known these experiences in all overseas conflicts since the Boer War. On ANZAC Day they will be sharing them with non-Indigenous comrades in solemn remembrance services at dawn and when marching in cities and town across Australia. Our communities never forgot our heroes and heroines who fought for Australia at home and abroad and those who for their Country in the Frontier Wars. The acts of bravery of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women have always been

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proudly recognised, respected and honoured by their families and the communities they represented. When we honor our servicemen and servicewomen we also acknowledge the spirit of genuine equality that lives in the armed forces. This spirit can guide our nation in this time of great change if we heed the message. 115 years ago, more than 50 of our warriors went to the Boer War. Many were left overseas – Unable to return due to the White Australia Policy. Those who returned found prejudice and racism. 100 years ago between 1914 and 1918 at least 800 of our warriors joined, only to find that when they returned their bravery, service and sacrifice was not recognised by the government and the wider community - an experience their non-Aboriginal comrades only encountered after Vietnam. Their farms and lands were confiscated after the war and given to nonIndigenous returned men and their families. Some had their children taken and placed in institutions while they were away fighting for their country. 75 years ago as many as 6,000 joined between 1939 and 1945. After 1945 they again returned to prejudice and racism. Children were taken and placed in institutions while their fathers were away overseas fighting for their country. Some of this Stolen Generation live in Redfern today. Farms and lands continued to be taken after WWII for the Soldier Settlers Scheme. Later still, we went to Malaya, Vietnam, Timor, Africa and the Middle East - and again returned to prejudice and racism. Today, our leaders ask to be judged on their relationship with our First Nations Peoples. We do need a Prime Minister for Indigenous Australians. Above all though we need to be a community for Indigenous Australians – a community which heeds our

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Aboriginal war veterans David Williamson (left) and Pastor Ray Minniecon lead the indigenous diggers march in Sydney last year. Image: AAP

warriors’ example of rising above prejudice and racism to serve the higher causes of equality and justice. Our warriors’ story is bigger than words, bigger than all of us together. Bigger, even, than their sacrifice. Through their action our heroes are calling on us all - the Australian nation - to look beyond colour and prejudice and beyond the fractured history of conflict and dispossession and towards a new Dreaming. Their spirit calls us all to listen to the story of our Diggers and listen to all our First Nations Peoples and their stories. Our warriors are calling for an Australia for Indigenous Australians. It is said that two things define Australia as a nation, the ANZAC spirit and our history of treatment of Indigenous peoples. In this Centenary year of the commencement of WWI, the Federal Government should: - Place a plaque on every war memorial around the nation, acknowledging the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in all overseas conflicts since the Boer War. - Invite our veterans and their families to lead the main ANZAC Day marches in our capital cities in 2015 – the Centenary of ANZAC

year. - Convene a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans Conference. Bringing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans together at a national conference is the first step towards setting a ten year agenda for supporting our veterans. Only they and their families have answers to the unique issues they and their families and their communities face. “What our leaders hear and do right now will define where we as a nation will be 25 years’ time. Significant acts of reconciliation such as these are long overdue. We should not wait 100 years for the next centenary of ANZAC before we appropriately rededicate war memorials, plaques and monuments in every city, town, school, hall and church.” Redfern Commemoration Coordinator, Pastor Ray Minniecon said. The Redfern Commemoration is a culturally appropriate remembrance service. It affirms community, family and mateship. Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people come together at this event, which is held in the early afternoon to give people an opportunity to participate in the main Sydney march and other local ANZAC Day events.


2014 redfern aboriginal anzac day commemoration march