As part of Reconciliation Week, the military service of Australia’s Indigenous armed forces was acknowledged at the Indigenous Veterans’ Ceremony at the Shrine of Remembrance at ANZAC Square on May 31.
Hosted by RSL (Queensland Branch), the Indigenous Veterans’ Ceremony aimed to heighten awareness of reconciliation and the dedication demonstrated by Indigenous personnel to the defence of Australia.
Indigenous personnel have been involved in conflicts since the Boer War, however, their service is often a forgotten contribution to Australia’s military history.
Cousins Richard Watego (left) and Warrant Officer Class One Colin Watego OAM (Senior Indigenous Culture Advisor, Directorate of Indigenous Affairs) paid their respects at the Indigenous Veterans' Ceremony. Both men grew up in Mount Gravatt and had fathers who served in WWII and a grandfather who served in WWI.
Warrant Officer Class Two Edwin James Mi Mi was guest speaker at the ceremony. A proud Wakka Wakka man, Edwin was born and raised in Gayndah, Queensland, and enlisted in the Australian Army after finishing Year 12 in 1985. As a young boy in Gayndah in the 1960s, Edwin was inspired to join up by his uncle Harry Mi Mi, who had also served in the Army.
Throughout his 24-year service with the Army, Edwin held several regimental and nonregimental postings, progressing through the ranks from Private to Warrant Officer Class Two within Infantry Corp. He has been deployed to Somalia, East Timor and Iraq.
The ceremony was attended by Governor of Queensland Paul de Jersey, Lord Mayor of Brisbane Graham Quirk, RSL (Queensland Branch) Deputy President John Strachan OAM, master of ceremonies Darren Curtis, Chaplain Charles Vesely, representatives from local schools and RSL Sub Branches, Indigenous veterans and their families.
Romani Brown and Sarah Johnson from Brisbane Bayside State College paid their respects at the Indigenous Veterans' Ceremony.