Indigenous veterans commemorated in annual ceremony

26 May 2023
  • Media release
  • First Nations

The contributions of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have served and sacrificed for Australia will again be recognised at RSL Queensland’s annual Indigenous Veterans’ Ceremony on Saturday 27 May 2023.

In line with National Reconciliation Week, the Indigenous Veterans’ Ceremony has been held annually in Brisbane since 2006, becoming an integral part of the RSL Queensland calendar. The ceremony aims to recognise the invaluable contributions of Queensland’s Indigenous service people to Australia’s Defence Force both past and present.  

RSL Queensland State President Major General Stephen Day DSC AM said the ceremony was an opportunity for the entire community to acknowledge that many Indigenous veterans were treated neither equally, nor fairly, during but particularly after their return from service.  

Indigenous Veterans' Ceremony

“RSL Queensland aims to create a deeper understanding of our military history by helping to tell the story of indigenous veterans,” MAJGEN Day said. 

“We continue to acknowledge that Indigenous veterans made a significant contribution in serving our nation, yet many were denied the same pay or entitlements as other Australian veterans who fought for their country in the same wars.” 

Navy veteran and proud Torres Strait Islander, Marsat Ketchell will address the ceremony as the keynote speaker on Saturday.  

Following 26 years of service, Mr Ketchell has played a key role in advocating for Indigenous service men and women and is committed to supporting veteran wellbeing and integration into the community. 

Navy veteran Marsat Ketchell

Uncle Marsat Ketchell

“Today is an opportunity to share my story and to share the truth. The truth that we are still here despite the fact that in the past, both during and after their service, Indigenous and some non-Indigenous personnel and veterans were not treated equally. We did serve and we'll continue to serve,” Mr Ketchell said.  

Commenting on the importance of the ceremony, Marsat hopes that if there’s one thing to take away from the ceremony, it is the importance of culture and tradition and how it can be integrated into the Commonwealth Defence Force.  

“It is time join together and recognise the strength of uniting in our differences. For us to be fully operational, in Defence Force terms, we've need to understand each other and the importance of our culture and tradition integrated into the Commonwealth Defence Force culture and tradition.” 

The ceremony will be held in Brisbane (Meanjin) at the Shrine of Remembrance in ANZAC Square from 11am. For those who cannot attend in person, the ceremony can also be streamed via the RSL Queensland YouTube channel.

Learn more about the Indigenous Veterans’ Ceremony.