Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk joined the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dedicated Memorial Committee Queensland Inc. to unveil a new memorial to First Nations servicemen and women in Brisbane today.
The Premier, who attended the unveiling ceremony at Brisbane’s ANZAC Square, said the service and sacrifice of all Australian military personnel deserved to be honoured with dignity and respect, including the important contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women.
“Right throughout history, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders have served our nation courageously as members of Australia’s armed forces. It’s important their efforts are acknowledged,” the Premier said.
“This memorial will be a permanent reminder of their valour and sacrifice and is an opportunity to commemorate the stories of First Nations service men and women.
“It’s another step in our nation’s path to reconciliation and it’s fitting that we’re unveiling this on the first day of this year’s National Reconciliation Week.
“Our government is proud to partner with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dedicated Memorial Committee Queensland to support this important memorial with a $240,000 funding commitment as we continue on our reconciliation journey.”
The bronze memorial, designed by Wakka Wakka artist John Smith Gumbula and Gold Coast-based sculptor Liam Hardy, features four First Nations Army, Air Force, Navy, and Medical Services personnel and two dancers representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Craig Crawford said the Palaszczuk Government was committed to Treaty with First Nations peoples and the memorial marked a significant step on that journey.
“This year’s National Reconciliation Week theme asks us all to be brave, and make change,” Mr Crawford said.
“It takes courage to speak the truth about history, but that honesty is fundamental to creating a new way for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and non-Indigenous peoples to work together as equals, with mutual respect.
“First Nations peoples have served in armed conflicts from the Boer War onwards and continue to serve our country today.
“Military service requires significant sacrifice from serving members and their families, in wartime and in peace, and some have made the ultimate sacrifice.
“This memorial is a way of honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women now and into the future, and I thank them for their service.”
Assistant Minister to the Premier for Veterans’ Affairs Bart Mellish said the memorial was significant for currently serving First Nations Australian Defence Force personnel, veterans and their families.
“It’s been almost three decades since the last memorials were erected in Anzac Square, so today is a meaningful occasion which honours the many thousands of First Nations servicemen and women who out of a common love for Australia, set aside differences, united cultures, and went to war on our behalf.”
The Brisbane memorial will join existing memorials in Adelaide, Sydney and Canberra and soon to be established ones in Ipswich and Woorabinda.
Today’s unveiling was attended by the Premier, Brisbane Lord Mayor and approximately 200 First Nations Elders, Australian Defence Force representatives, veterans, project partners and philanthropists.