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Media releases & speeches

The Hon Dan Tehan MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Recognising the service of Indigenous Australians

As Australians celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples during NAIDOC Week, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan has today paid tribute to Indigenous ex-servicemen and women.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a very long and proud history of serving in all sectors and units within the Australian Defence Force through the wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations that Australia has participated in from the Boer War through to present-day conflicts,” Mr Tehan said.

“Many of these men and women are the unsung heroes who pushed through adversity to enlist and serve their country. Their contribution is all the more significant when viewed against their lack of citizenship rights and early policies that discouraged and limited their enlistment.”

The Minister also acknowledged the commitment of Indigenous members post-service.

“Many of today’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ex-servicemen and women work tirelessly in the ex-service community to assist others in need. For them it’s not about skin colour, it’s about being there for their mates, because the bonds formed in service last a lifetime,” Mr Tehan said.

Mr Tehan noted that some Indigenous ex-servicemen and women may be unaware of the support available to them from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

“I encourage anyone who thinks they may be eligible to receive support from the Department to come forward.

“Visit the DVA website or phone 133 254 or freecall 1800 155 254 from regional Australia.

“We need to spread the word about the proud history of Indigenous service but also ensure they are accessing the support and services available to them.”

Media enquiries:

Minister Tehan’s Office: Amelia Gard, 0428 262 894
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.