For over a century Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have had a proud and long history of serving within the Australian Armed Forces in many theatres, from Gallipoli to the battlefields of Vietnam and beyond.
The exact numbers of men and women that have served in Australia are unknown, due to the official Defence policy around the first half of the twentieth century that excluded the enlistments of people who were “not substantially of European origin or descent”.
The fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people served at all during a time when they were denied the basic rights of citizenship is significant, and this situation was not corrected until the 1970s.
Serving Country is a photographic portrait exhibition curated by Sydney-based human rights social documentarians, Belinda Mason OAM and Dieter Knierim. It acknowledges and recognises the valuable contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women who are currently serving or have served within the Australian Defence Force.
The exhibition serves as a platform for sharing stories, both devastating and inspiring, including accounts of courage, suffering and mateship. Sharing stories has often played a vital role within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and has a strong link to healing of the spirit and mind.
AlburyCity Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Curator Kat Kitch said it was a pleasure to work towards an exhibition that showcases the resilience and strength of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander soldiers.
"Being Wiradjuri myself it fills me with a great sense of pride to see these portraits, and I hope our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community feel the same way when the exhibition launches."
For more information visit the AlburyCity website.
Warning to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders: The exhibition may contain images of deceased people.
Image: Aunty Lorraine Hatton OAM, 2022 Quandamooka Elder of the Noonuccal & Ngughi peoples of South East Queensland, Indigenous Elder of the Australian Army. Retired Warrant Officer Class 2, Royal Australian Corps of Signals, Afghanistan & Sinai veteran. Photo by Belinda Mason OAM.