• The new War Memorial in Adelaide bedecked with floral tributes
A war memorial has been unveiled in Adelaide to remember the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who served in the Australian Defence Force.
11 Nov 2013 - 4:14 PM  UPDATED 12 Nov 2013 - 1:42 AM

After a century of unrecognised service, the South Australian dedication has been heralded by many as long overdue.

An individual who worked for years to see the memorial become a reality is Indigenous Vietnam Veteran, Gilbert Green.

Green was once told at his National Service medical that he didn't have to fight for his country. But this only made him more determined than ever to do so.

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"He said you don't have to go any further, and I said why is that? Because you're Aboriginal and you don't have to go any further. He said I can just put you don't have to serve, you know. I said, well, no, I'm Australian too, I said I still want to go on," says Mr Green.

Green joined the Australian Defence Force at a time when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people weren't counted in Australia's population.

"I was a bit; excuse the French, a bit pissed off about it. But I thought, screw youse, you're not going to get the better of me. So yeah, my mum rest her soul, said always fight for what you believe in. I went and did my laps and served my training. I think I got it a bit harder than everybody else, because I was an Aboriginal," Mr Green says.

Green was also treated unfairly when he returned home from war and was denied entry into a local RSL Club.

“I said, oh I know, it's because I'm black. You and you can come in but he can't, it's because I'm black. I said if you cut me, Indian ink doesn't come out, red blood come out,” said Mr Green.

While he made lifelong friends, he also lost many in the jungles of Vietnam. But as a stolen child from Kinchela Boys Home in NSW, feelings of loss and despair came as second nature.

He was a part of the 1970-1971 tour of duty and believes every war memorial is important. But a dedicated monument for Indigenous service personnel has a special significance for Veteran Green.

"It’s part of the healing, I think you could call it, between black and white culture. Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people were there and I think that we should be recognised," says Mr Green. 

Lest we forget.


Watch this video report on YouTube:

Watch: NITV's Natalie Ahmat reports on the unveiling ceremony of the first Indigenous war memorial

Watch: Indigenous diggers get their first memorial