Between 4 August 2014 and 11 November 2018, Australia will recognise and commemorate the Centenary of the First World War and the Anzac legacy.
This is a once in a generation opportunity to reflect on one of the most significant chapters in our country’s history and will enable all Australians to recognise and pay tribute to 100 years of service for our nation.
Wartime Legends is a NSW Government Centenary of Anzac initiative that encourages ex-service groups, government agencies, non-government organisations, businesses, schools and local government to get involved in this significant commemoration period by recognising contributions made by Aboriginal servicemen and women.
Although commemorations can occur throughout the year, the National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week and National Reconciliation Week (NRW) from 2014-2018 are opportune times to commemorate Aboriginal military service.
History of Aboriginal Military Service in the First World War
Over 400 Aboriginal Australians served in the First World War.
Despite the sacrifices made by these servicemen and women abroad, many returned home to a prejudicial society that denied them the right to vote, an equal wage, custody of their children and control of their finances.
Many Aboriginal veterans were also denied veterans’ benefits and excluded from Anzac Day events.
The Centenary provides communities with an opportunity to commemorate the contributions made by these men and women on the battlefront, as well as recognise and deepen our understanding of the challenges they faced on the home front.
NAIDOC Week and NRW
NAIDOC Week is celebrated annually during the first week of July and remains one of Aboriginal Australia’s strongest cultural celebrations. The Commonwealth Government has designated the theme for NAIDOC Week 2014 as ‘Serving Country: Centenary & Beyond’.
NRW is celebrated between 27 May and 3 June each year and aims to promote greater harmony and understanding between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.
The Centenary is themed as follows:
- 2014 – Origins and beginnings of the First World War
- 2015 – Turkey and Gallipoli (2015 is the Year of Turkey)
- 2016 – France and the Western Front
- 2017 – Belgium and the Western Front
- 2018 – Conclusion of the First World War
How organisations can get involved
Here are ways communities/organisations can get involved with Wartime Legends:
- Make reference to the Centenary of Anzac and contributions made by Aboriginal servicemen and women during acknowledgement of country, while acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land.
- Develop partnerships between local Aboriginal groups and local RSL sub-branches and Legacy clubs to gain a greater understanding of the community’s service history and how Aboriginal service history can be incorporated into events and activities.
- Organise an event, such as a morning/afternoon tea,in an Aboriginal community that commemorates Aboriginal service history and raises funds for a veterans’ cause.
- Invite Aboriginal ex-servicemen and women to speak at functions.
- Disseminate information on the Aboriginal community’s service history through newsletters, websites etc.
How local government can get involved
Councils could provide leadership and facilitative assistance to organisations in the following ways:
- Organise a meeting with the elders of local Aboriginal groups and encourage them to incorporate Aboriginal service history into relevant events.
- Encourage local Aboriginal groups, local RSL Sub Branches and Legacy clubs to work together to garner a greater understanding of their local community’s Aboriginal service history.
- Organise a forum with local ex-service groups, government agencies, non-government organisations, businesses and schools that provides information on the community’s Aboriginal service history and how this can be appropriately commemorated.
- Encourage schools and communities to incorporate Aboriginal veterans’ stories and experiences into school-based activities and learning. This could be done as part of classes on civics, history and Aboriginal studies. This could include veterans attending schools for events, school visits of local cultural centres and development of local and regional educational materials on Aboriginal veterans.
- Local Aboriginal cultural centres could be a focus for Centenary activities in that region, through exhibiting collections of Aboriginal servicemen and women records and materials and the sharing of veterans’ stories.
- Advertise events and activities on council websites, newsletters etc.
If sports clubs require financial assistance to organise an activity or initiative the following funding sources could be utilised:
- Anzac Community Grants – a NSW Government grants program that provides educational institutions, ex-service organisations, community groups, local government, museums and historical societies with up to $5,000 for the organising of Anzac-related activities. Further information can be found at Anzac Community Grants Program
- Community Builders Website – This website at communitybuilders.nsw.gov.au provides a list of funding programs from federal, state and local government, as well as institutions, philanthropic trusts and businesses.
- Community Building Partnership Program – If initiatives are infrastructure-related the NSW Government’s Community Building Partnership program could be of assistance. This program provides State Electorates with $200,000 or $300,000 (amount depends on the socioeconomic status of the Electorate) to spend on local infrastructure projects. Further details are available at communitybuildingpartnership.nsw.gov.au
- NSW Community War Memorial Fund – If your club has an existing war memorial that requires restoration, you can apply for funding from the Community War Memorial Fund. A ‘memorial’ includes public monuments, memorial places, landscaped spaces, buildings and sculptures as well as indoor fixtures such as honour boards, plaques, busts, bas reliefs. Visit Community War Memorials Fund for more information.
- Local government – Councils often have grants for local activities and initiatives.
- Local business – Local businesses often sponsor community events and initiatives.
Promote your activity
This website includes an events portal, for community groups to promote upcoming Centenary activities.
Sports clubs are encouraged to promote their United We Stand events on this portal, submit your activity.
The following organisations can provide further details on Aboriginal service history and advice on appropriate activities and events:
- Babana Aboriginal Men’s Group
- Phone: (02) 80682113
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans Association
- Phone: (02) 9682 6214
- Mobile: 0450 361 418
- Email: email@example.com