A memorial recognising the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women is set to be unveiled in Brisbane by the middle of next year.
The monument, which is currently in its final stages of completion, will be the first in the state’s capital to honour Indigenous soldiers, specifically those from Queensland.
The President of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dedicated Memorial Committee Queensland (ATSIDMCQ), Lorraine Hatton OAM said the memorial will provide permanent recognition of the incredible sacrifice of Indigenous diggers over the years.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have had a longstanding tradition of fighting for country, and that’s dating back since before Federation,” Ms Hatton said.
“It includes service in all conflicts and operations in which the nation’s military has been involved and we have Indigenous people that continue to serve with great honour in the Australian defence force today.”
Designed by Wakka Wakka artist, John Smith Gumbula and master sculptor Liam Hardy, the monument seeks to reflect that long and distinguished service record, and will feature four Indigenous service personnel from Army, Air Force, Navy, and Medical Service.
Behind them are two dancers, one Aboriginal and one Torres Strait Islander.
“It’s a combination of traditional European style representation of figurative sculpture, with a 60 thousand year history of Indigenous artwork, collaboratively incorporated and beautifully put together,” said sculptor, Liam Hardy.
Once completed, the memorial will stand alongside other statues at Brisbane’s ANZAC Square.
A military veteran herself, having served in the army for 20 years, Lorraine Hatton said the monument would provide the Murri community with a special place to go to remember their ancestors’ bravery and sacrifice.
Ms Hatton said she also hopes it will help to educate the wider community about the contributions of the thousands of First Nations peoples who have served in the defence forces – stories she says have largely gone untold.
“Building a memorial in their honour will see a process undertaken that finally brings recognition to their valiant efforts but also feeds into a new and richer understanding about Australian identity and history and have their stories etched in a more inclusive history in Australia,” she said.
The Quandamooka women said the committee hoped to unveil the memorial during either Reconciliation Week or NAIDOC Week in 2021, ready for next year’s Remembrance Day services.
“It’s been challenging because since the inception of the Committee in 2013, we’ve had floods, we’ve had drought, we’ve had fires, and now we’ve had COVID,” she said.
“It’s been a long time in the making, but it’s definitely going to be something to behold when we unveil it.”