This new memorial honours the bravery of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders during wartime. The first such memorial, it was unveiled in 2013. It recognises a part of war history that until recently has been largely ignored.
Indigenous Australians served in every conflict and peacekeeping mission the country has been in, from the Boer War at the start of the 20th century to the present-day theatres of war such as Afghanistan. Indigenous people were not considered Australian citizens until 1967 and in the first half of the 20th century, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were actually banned from the armed forces. Many enlisted in spite of this.
Tony Rosella, Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin and Michelle Nikou designed this bronze sculpture. It shows a World War I male soldier and a World War II female nurse standing above a coolamon, a traditional Indigenous Australian holding vessel. The Rainbow Serpent surrounds the two figures. This creature is part of the Indigenous Australian creation story and the Dreamtime. A walkway of honour leads to the memorial. It bears the names of those Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander men and women who served.
At the official unveiling on November 10, 2013, former Governor General Quentin Bryce said of the memorial “It stands in noble testimony to the service of Indigenous personnel across Australia in peace and war.”