Our Mob Served – a vivid picture of Indigenous war service

Thursday, 28 March 2019 - 3:15pm

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The oral histories and treasured family photographs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women create a vivid picture of Indigenous war service in the new book; Our Mob Served: A History of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories of war and defending Australia.

Our Mob Served edited by Allison Cadzow and Mary Anne Jebb is the latest title from the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies’ (AIATSIS) publishing arm, Aboriginal Studies Press, was officially launched at the Australian War Memorial, Thursday 28 March 2019.

AIATSIS CEO Craig Ritchie said the book, a moving tribute to the little-known history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander war time and defence service, is long overdue.

“One of the outcomes of the four year ‘Serving Our Country’ research project, this book brings to the fore the extent to which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people served our nation,” said Mr Ritchie.

“It shares some of the powerful stories heard as the project travelled to many cities and towns around the country recording the experiences of ex-service men and women and their families. The editors have squeezed as many of these generously shared stories and photographs as they could between the stunning covers. “

John Lester’s father served in World War II and upon his return to Australia, fought for equality and citizenship rights with other Aboriginal ex-servicemen and activists. In the book John speaks publicly of his concern that the rest of Australia share in these stories:

On every major war front, we were represented…And when you consider, at the same time, our land was being taken, our kids were being stolen. All those sorts of things. Whether it’s my father’s attitude – [feeling] ‘it was the only job I could get to put food on the table’ – regardless of that…Australia has got an extreme debt to our role in those sorts of battles. And the stories need to be told.

‘Serving Our Country: A history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the defence of Australia’ was led by former AIATSIS Chairperson and Australian National University Emeritus Professor Mick Dodson. Project partner organisations include the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Department of Defence, the National Archives of Australia, AIATSIS and the Australian War Memorial.

Our Mob Served: A History of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories of war and defending Australia ($39.95) is available now from the AIATSIS online shop.

The launch coincided with the dedication of the For Our Country sculpture at the Australian War Memorial.

Media enquiries

Commsmedia@aiatsis.gov.au or P: 02 6246 1605

Last reviewed: 28 Mar 2019