With support from Griffith University, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dedicated Memorial Queensland Incorporated aims to have a memorial erected in Brisbane and khanki magi to remember specifically the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heroes and have their stories etched in a more inclusive history of Australia.
To honour, respect and remember the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have served and those who have paid the extreme sacrifice for our country.
A place in History
For the past 18 months our committee has been negotiating with Council and the State Government about an appropriate site for the memorial. On 15 October Lord Mayor Graham Quirk and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs, Glen Elmes announced that the memorial is to be erected in Anzac Square in Brisbane and will be located on the lawn in front of the Anzac Square Women’s Freize.
"Indigenous veterans have been honoured for the past eight years in a ceremony held at Anzac Square as part of National Reconciliation Week, so it’s fitting that a dedicated memorial will be built here". Cr Quirk
It is estimated that over 500 Indigenous Australians fought in the World War 1 despite many being refused entry into the Australian Imperial Force on the basis of their race. Many slipped through the enlistment process by pretending to be Maori, Pacific Islander or Indian and fought for their country on many battle grounds including Gallipoli. By 1917 however, recruitment of the general population became increasingly harder and when a national referendum for conscription was lost, restrictions were cautiously eased to allow Half-castes to enlist under special conditions. Indigenous Australians in the World War 1 served served side by side with non-indigenous service men and for the first time in their lives were judged on their character rather than the colour of their skin whilst at war. After the war however they returned to find that discrimination remained or had worsened. They were once again segregated from society under continuing paternal protection policies, were prohibited from taking part in ANZAC day marches, denied returned servicemen land grants and in many cases found that the government had taken their children away whilst they defended their country.
By 1930 there was very little improvement in civil rights and by 1939 Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander Australians were divided over the issue of military service. Some believed war service would help the push for full citizenship rights and proposed the formation of Aboriginal battalions to maximize public visibility. By the start of the World War 2 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian were allowed to enlist in the armed services. It is estimated that over 3000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders fought in the World War 2. By 1944 almost every able-bodied male Torres Strait Islander had enlisted. However, they never received the same rates of pay or conditions as White soldiers. At first their pay was one-third that of regular soldiers. After a two-day "mutiny" in December 1943 this was raised to two-thirds.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women continued to enlist in Korean, Vietnam Wars and the recent modern day peace keeping efforts Australia has committed to.
War service brought greater contact than ever before between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non- indigenous communities. For non- Indigenous Australians it was a chance to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders war accelerated the process of cultural change and it was hoped that in the long term that this would ensure greater equality for them in Australian society.
Honouring the service contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to the nation is a vital part of the reconciliation. At war different cultures united due to the common love they had for this great country. Building a memorial in their honour will see a processes undertaken that finally brings recognition to their valiant efforts but also feeds into new and richer understandings about Australian identity and history.
The concept for the Memorial tells of the contribution and sacrifice of all Indigenous Australians that have served or died in armed conflicts, from the Boer War through to recent times.
Our Committee representation includes ex service men and women, academics, artists, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community elders and other groups who are dedicated to the idea of of establishing a memorial.
ATSIDMQI was formed to ensure the sacrifices of men such as Private Fredrick Beale 2/20th Battalion WW2 (pictured left) and his brother Private George Beale are recognised. These men were captured after the fall of Singapore in 1942. They spent time in Changi POW camp before being sent to Japan to slave in a steel mill. Pte George Beale died from injuries sustained in an accident after working a 24 hour shift. Private Fredrick Beale survived the war and returned home in 1945. (Source: Australian War Memorial)
Co - Chair: Mr John Burns (Retired Warrant Officer Class Two)
Co - Chair: Mrs Lorraine Hatton (Retired Warrant Officer Class Two)
Secretariat: Miss Carmen Perez (Community Representative)
Mr Neil Finlay (Community Representative)
Dr Harry Van Issum (Community Representative)
Mrs Gillian French (Griffith University Representative)
Mr Phil Mairu (Community representative)
Mr David Hatton OAM (Committee Member)
Mrs Tiffany Rose (Committee Member)