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Ceremony recognises Aboriginal Diggers

Bourke RSL President Victor Bartley welcoming everyone to the NAIDOC Remembrance Service PHOTO: TWH

One of Bourke’s most significant NAIDOC events is the annual Remembrance Service, honouring indigenous men and women who served in the Australian Defence Forces.

The ceremony was held last Thursday in the Remembrance Garden in the grounds of the Aboriginal Medical Service and was led by Bourke RSL President Victor Bartley and Vice President Kelly Lienesch.

The service is an important day in Bourke’s NAIDOC events and recognises the valuable and often untold contributions of Aboriginal soldiers.

“The idea of the ceremony is not to take anything away from the Remembrance Day service for all Australians on November 11 each year, but it is special for Aboriginal men and women who served our country over many years in many different wars and conflicts,” Victor said.

“It came about in 2007 when the then Bourke RSL President Peter Potter asked me why there was no special recognition of Aboriginal defence personnel, and I was lost for words.

“He suggested it was time we did something in particular for the people of Bourke so we gathered the names of all those local people who served and made an honour roll plaque that would be displayed somewhere of significance. In consultation with the Aboriginal Legal Service it was decided to have the ceremony at the BAHS.

“We had the plaque placed on a large rock which is situated in the grounds of BAHS and every year since then during NAIDOC week we have the ceremony there and invite everyone, not just indigenous people, the schools and anyone who would like to come along to recognise the contributions of Aboriginal people who served in war.

Read more in the printed edition of the Western Herald.

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