The Serving Country portrait collection serves to honour and recognise the many generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and individuals who have proudly served and continue to serve in Australia’s Defence Force, and to acknowledge the positive roles they play within the community.
By acknowledging these service men and women, we become part of the seismic shift that has occurred in the Australian military and in Australian society in general as we reconcile with our past and make a better future by closing the gap.
For more than a century, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have had a long history of serving in the defence of our nation in many theatres: South Africa, Gallipoli, the trenches of Belgium and France, the Middle East, the jungles and tropical islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, on the battlefields of Korea and Vietnam, and beyond, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have proudly served.
It is difficult to say just how many Aboriginal and Torres Islander men and women served our nation, as official defence policy in the first half of the twentieth century was aimed at excluding the enlistment of persons “not substantially of European origin or descent”. The fact that Aboriginal and Torres Strait servicemen and women served at all in the defence forces at a time when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were denied the most basic rights of citizenship is significant – a situation not corrected until the 1970s.
Artists: Belinda Mason, Dieter Knierim and Liam Knierim.
Mondays to Saturdays, 9am to 5pm
Tuesday 25 April to Friday 30 June 2017
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