Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Service Men and Women

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  • 2nd Robert Leslie Syron Brother  In the 2nd 4th battalion Rwanda 1994

    Robert Syron

    Robert Syron is a Birpai / Worrimi man. This interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women who Served Their Country’ project. In this interview, Robert talks about his deployment to Rwanda in the mid-90s as part of a peacekeeping force, ostensibly providing security for the UN and other NGOs delivering medical support. It would take the Australian government another 10 years to re-classify the Rwandan operation as combat rather than peacekeeping.

  • Conaty, Maxine 1

    Maxine Conaty

    Aunty Maxine Conaty is a Gamileroi / Wonnorua woman. This interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women who Served Their Country’ project. In this interview, Maxine talks about the war service of her father Harold (also known as Lal) Hinton who joined the Army during World War Two and was stationed in Perth. Maxine’s Uncle Cecil Hinton was also in the armed forces and was a prisoner of war in Changi.

  • Rob Bryant, photograph by Belinda Mason 2014

    Rob Bryant

    Uncle Rob Bryant is a Gumbaynggir man from the north coast of NSW who also partly grew up in Sydney. This interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women Who Served Their Country’ project. Rob joined the Royal Australian Air Force in in 1967 and was posted to Vietnam in 1970. In the excerpt below he recalls the period of his enlistment and his regular attendance at ANZAC Day marches.

  • Dr Lisa Jackson Pulver

    Lisa Jackson Pulver

    Lisa Jackson Pulver is a Wiradjuri woman and this interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women Who Served Their Country’ project. Lisa is a senior research academic and Air Force Reservist as well as Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs in Air Force. In the excerpt below she talks about her commitment to military life, and the promotion of training for Indigenous youth and cross-cultural understanding within the Air Force.

  • Roy Mundine CROP 2

    Roy Mundine

    Roy Mundine comes from Baryulgil in New South Wales but has spent much of his life outside Australia. This interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women who Served Their Country’ project. In his interview Roy talks about life in the military and in the excerpt below he outlines his overseas postings and his rise through the ranks.

  • L: Private Frederick Beale in POW camp uniform. R: Private George Beale in Army uniform. Images courtesy Jenny Beale and the Australian War Memorial.

    Jenny Beale

    Aunty Jenny Beale is from Gunnedah and is a descendant of the Gomeroi and Wanaruah peoples. This interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women who Served Their Country’ project. Aunty Jenny talks about her father and uncle’s service in World War II, their imprisonment in Changi and Japan, and her uncle’s death whilst incarcerated. She describes the difficulty her father faced post-war in receiving entitlements available to other veterans and former POWs. In the excerpt below, Aunty Jenny pieces together what she knows about conditions at the Naoetsu Prison Camp, based on what her father told her, the marks on his body, and what she has read about the notorious camp.

  • Ray Minniecon

    Ray Minniecon

    Pastor Ray Minniecon identifies with the Kabi Kabi and Goreng Goreng nations and with the people of Ambryn Island in Vanuatu, from whence his grandfather was taken to Australia as forced labour. This interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women Who Served Their Country’ project. Pastor Ray is a driving force in the movement to recognise Indigenous contribution to the Australian armed forces. In the excerpt below he discusses the the locations, routes and memorial services of the ‘Coloured Digger’ March on ANZAC Day.

  • Lyn Dickson 2

    Lynn Dickson

    Marilyn (Lynn) Dickson is a Wiradjuri woman and member of the Women’s Royal Australian Army Corps Association. This interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women who Served Their Country’ project. In her interview Lyn discusses her work as a recruiter and trainer for the Defence Force, racial inequality in the armed forces, and her current position as an Aboriginal Community Development officer for local government. In the excerpt below she talks about the meaning of ANZAC Day for her.

  • John Kinsella

    John Kinsela

    John Kinsela is a Wiradjuri man and this interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Service Men and Women’ project. In this interview John talks about conscription, physical training, active service in Vietnam, and his alternative career as an Olympic athlete. In the excerpt below he recalls his uncle, Captain Reginald Saunders MBE, the first Indigenous Australian to be commissioned as an officer in the Australian Army.

  • Dean Dobson crop 3

    Dean Dobson

    Dean Dobson is a Wiradjuri man and firefighter who grew up in Sydney. This interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women Who Served Their Country’ project. In the interview Dean talks about his training and peacekeeping work with the Army Reserve and the growing significance of ANZAC Day for his family.

  • Tony Albert 4

    Tony Albert

    Tony Albert is a Girramay man and an artist who is creating a large public sculpture in Sydney’s Hyde Park to memorialise the Indigenous contribution to Australia’s armed forces. This interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women Who Have Served Their Country’ project. In his interview Tony talks about his family’s connection with the Services; his training, mentors, and experiences in art; and his plans for the sculpture which will consist of large scale upright and fallen ‘bullets’. In the excerpt below Tony discusses his hopes for the artwork and the symbolism it will embody.

  • Image courtesy David Williams

    David Williams

    Uncle David Williams is a Bundjalung man from Baryulgil in New South Wales. He joined the Australian Navy in 1965 and was an engineer, diver and submariner. This interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women Who Served Their Country’ project. In this interview he talks about camaraderie in the forces; occupational hazards; and his work with veterans, youth, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. In the excerpt below he discusses his reasons for joining up and the places in which he served.

  • John Staines

    John Staines

    John Staines is a Wiradjuri man whose grandfather and uncle fought in the Second World War. This interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Service Men and Women Who Served Their Country’ project. John talks in his interview about the impact that inequality can have on Indigenous servicemen and the negative legacy that war service can have on their families. In the excerpt below he recalls racist incidents experienced by his grandfather during and after the war.

  • Vic Simon

    Vic Simon

    Vic Simon is from Forster in New South Wales. This interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women Who Served Their Country’ project.
    Vic joined the army in 1965, served in Vietnam, and fought in the Battle of Long Tan. He is an active member and office holder in the RSL [Returned Services League]. In the excerpt below he recalls his antecedents who were in the military; and discusses his time in Vietnam.

  • Colin Watego

    Colin Watego

    Colin Watego reached the high rank of Warrant Officer First Class in the Australian Army. In his interview he talks about the Defense Forces, family life, youth community organisations and his religious beliefs; and the links between them all. This interview is part of a project called ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women who Served Their Country.’

  • Harry Allie

    Harry Allie

    Harry Allie joined the Australian Air Force in 1966. In this interview he talks about his early life, his decades in the Defense Forces and the ‘Coloured Digger’ movement in NSW. In the excerpt below Harry talks about his family members’ commitment to the Defense Forces at home and abroad. This interview is part of a project called ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women Who Served Their Country’.