Kalgoorlie-Boulder residents are being encouraged to consider the contributions of the Australian Defence Force’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members with a new photo exhibition at the Boulder Town Hall.
The collection of 81 portraits has been produced by Belinda Mason and Dieter Knierim and aims to honour the many generations of indigenous Australians who have proudly served in past conflicts in South Africa, Gallipoli, Belgium and France, the Middle East, South-East Asia, Korea, and Vietnam — along with those who continue to serve today.
Official defence policy in the first half of the 20th century excluded the enlistment of persons “not substantially of European origin or descent”, and Ms Mason said it was important that the stories of Australia’s indigenous defence force personnel be told.
“By recognising these servicemen and women, we become part of the seismic shift that has occurred in the Australian military and in Australian society in general as we reconcile with our past and make a better future by closing the gap,” she said.
City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder chief executive John Walker said the collection included the images and stories of indigenous servicemen and women from across Australia, including the Goldfields.
“The Serving Country exhibition includes more than 200 photos of digital images, stories and personal quotes in its collection so far, including those of two service people from the Goldfields — Wongi woman Shirley Mooney, from Leonora; and Able Seaman Boatswain Kaylin Coleman, who grew up in Kalgoorlie-Boulder and was the first Aboriginal woman from the Goldfields to enlist in the navy,” he said.
An open invitation is extended to present and ex-serving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women to take part in the Serving Country exhibition.
The exhibition will be on display at the Boulder Town Hall until October 20.
Serving Country may contain images of people who are deceased.