The Australian Defence Force has proudly acknowledged the role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have made in defending Australia and its National interests at an inaugural service at the Australian War Memorial.
For the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags are also on display in Canberra at Blamey Square this week. The activities mark National Aboriginal and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week.
The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel and Minister for Indigenous Health, the Hon Warren Snowdon MP said the Memorial Service and the flag raising activities are significant.
“The formalising of the Memorial Service at the Australian War Memorial officially recognises the contributions of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders personnel.
“This is the first time this has taken place and it provides public recognition of the contribution Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have made and continue to make to the ADF,” he said.
The Memorial Service recognises the past service of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in all major conflicts since the Boer War.
“We must also celebrate the current service of the 979 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ADF members that are helping to protect our borders and are working on overseas on operations at this time,” Mr Snowdon said.
The flags have been flying since Sunday 3 July and will remain flying until Sunday 10 July 2011, temporarily replacing the Navy and Air Force Ensigns.
Mr Snowdon said Defence continues to make progress toward ensuring new opportunities exist within Defence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the establishment of Defence’s Indigenous Affairs unit and the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan 2010– 2014.
This year’s Memorial Service marks a special occasion with the service moving to the Australian War Memorial to provide more room for the growing number of people attending the event, having traditionally been hosted at a bush site on Mt Ainslie.
The event was attended by Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin.
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