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Acknowledging Indigenous Diggers

THIS Anzac Day, an often forgotten contingent of diggers will be celebrated and their contribution remembered at Redfern reports Robert Burton-Bradley in Central of 22 April 2009.

For the third year, on April 25 a special march and service will be held to commemorate the contribution made specifically by Indigenous servicemen.

Pastor Ray Minniecon, from the Coloured Digger Project, said acknowledging Indigenous veterans was important, as recognition had not been forthcoming in the past.

"We want to acknowledge our own Redfern Aboriginal diggers," Mr Minniecon said.

"The whole point is to show how we need to recognise, respect and honour the Aboriginal people who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country, particularly when we realise that history has not been a good one at times.

"After the war they did not receive the same benefits of returned service men. Some didn't get their names on the RSL rolls of honour, some were not allowed in pubs.

"This is why it's really important we make a special point of honouring these diggers."

In 2007 the separate event for Indigenous diggers caused an outcry from some veterans while the National Returned Servicemen's League refused to endorse the separate black diggers march.

This year there has been no criticism and the RSL has not commented on the march. Mr Minniecon said the Coloured Digger Project was in the process of compiling a roll of honour like those featuring the names of white veterans and venerated at memorial shrines.

"So we can identify who they are and the tribal group they are from," he said.

"We are starting in the local Redfern area but we don't know all the tribal groups yet, so on the day we will be trying to identify names and tribes from as many diggers as we can."

The Coloured Diggers march will start at 1pm at the Block, Redfern and will be followed by a 1.45pm service at Redfern Park, Redfern.

For more information, phone Mr Minniecon 0417 929 701.

1pm Meet at The Block

1.15pm Welcome to Country

1.30pm Proceed to service at Redfern Park 5pm Commemorative Service

215pn Informal gathering and refreshments, Eiders yarn tent and displays, cultural performances


Northern Territory Special Reconnaissance Unit: 50 tribal Yolgnu men defended East Arnhem Land during the Second World War.


Torres Strait Force: 750 Torres Strait Islanders and 60 mainland Murri's defended the Torres Strait area during the Second World War.


Defence of Bathurst and Melville islands: 35 Tiwi from Melville Island defended the islands during Second World War.

Photo: The first Indigenous diggers march in 2007. - VANESSA HUNTER

Source: Central 22 April 2009