Calls to better honour Indigenous soldiers

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Indigenous soldiers have been remembered in a ceremony in Canberra and in the streets of Sydney's inner suburb of Redfern, amid calls to better recognise Aboriginal diggers' contributions.

Indigenous soldiers have been remembered in a ceremony in Canberra and in the streets of Sydney's inner suburb of Redfern, amid calls to better recognise Aboriginal diggers' contributions.

"Amongst non-Indigenous Australians, the service and sacrifice of Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal men is very much unknown", said Gareth O' Connell from the ATSI Veterans and Services Association at a ceremony in Canberra.

Indigenous Australia's contribution to the nation's security has been present at every conflict from the colonial forces through to the current operations in the Middle East.

In his address to the Canberra gathering, Gary Oakley from the Australian War Memorial called for a greater recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contributions.

"This country owes the Torres Strait Islanders a great debt. Out of all the places in Australia, during WWII, the Torres Strait Islanders put the most volunteers to the service. Over 95 per cent of the male population was in uniform. That is phenomenal".

REDFERN: Indigenous POWs remembered

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Meanwhile, the focus of today's service in Redfern was Indigenous prisoners of war.

Linda Boney-Sewey's father was a POW in the notorious Changi prison in Singapore.

She says today was a wonderful occasion to bring communities together. "It's a wonderful thing. It's about unity. Communities come together, ancestors, grandfathers".

How an Indigenous soldier overcame adversity

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One of Australia's present-day soldiers -- who's been in the Army for 30 years -- says missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and East Timor have taught him many things about overcoming adversity.

Warrant Officer Class One Patrick Blaik teaches the next generation of soldiers the skill of providing communications support while out in the field.

He's provided communications support for survey operations in the first Gulf War, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and East Timor.

Serving in the Middle East sharpened Mr Blaik's skills as a soldier, and he was forever conscious that danger was never far away.

“For the military and where I served in Baghdad in Camp Victory I wouldn't say it was a 9-5 job. We certainly had our share of strange incidents occur and during that time a large number of rocket attacks around Baghdad.

"The US Embassy itself around the Easter of that time actually suffered a lot of rocket attacks and we suffered some where we were as well. Fortunately for us for the Australians in that location none of us were ever injured so it was a good time.”

Since the Boer War and through World War One and Two, thousands of Indigenous personnel have served Australia.

They fought conflicts overseas only to return to another kind of conflict back home -- the fight for equality.

It's a fact not lost on Patrick Blaik who says the national push for Indigenous recognition in Australia's constitution should be a defining moment for Australia.

“It's a great opportunity for Australia, all Australians, regardless of where you come from and what generation you are in Australia.

“It's a great opportunity for all Australians to reflect upon the Indigenous background of Australia and promote the Indigenous cultures that we've had before that have been before, and an opportunity to educate Australians on Indigenous backgrounds.”

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PERTH: Indigenous Boer war veteran commemorated

In Perth a special ceremony has honoured an Indigenous veteran from the Boer War. In 1900, as a young man, Robert John Searle joined the Imperial Bushmen's Unit and fought in South Africa.

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Belgian ambassador recounts Indigenous diggers' courage

One in ten of the thousands of Aboriginal soldiers taking part in the First World War died in the fields of Flanders, part of Belgium. Jeremy Geia asked the Belgian Ambassador, Mr Patrick Renault about those black diggers.

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DARWIN: NORFORCE marches through Darwin

To mark Anzac Day, NORFORCE (North-West Mobile Force) joined the Army, Airforce and Navy in marching through the Northern Territory's capital, but there were no Indigenous troops, Craig Quartermaine reports.

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Source NITV News

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