Aboriginal Australians

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by blonde_guy, Nov 25, 2010.

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  1. I've just finished watching the film Gallipoli with Mel Gibson in it. Overall I thought it was good, despite the historical inaccuracies and slightly anti-British slant.

    Right at the beginning of the film, the sole aboriginal cast member is treated quite racistly. My question is a simple one. Australians often see the Boer War, Gallipoli & WW2 as the birth of a nation, celebrated through film, literature and the like.

    But what role, if any, did Aborigianl Australians play in these campaigns?
  2. Not a lot until WW2 although there may well have been some part-Aboriginal soldiers in WW1.

    Aboriginal people were not even counted as Australian citizens until a referendum was held in, I think, 1967. However, there was a lot of "mixing" during colonial times and many have unexpectedly found Aboriginal blood in their heritage while doing family tree research.

    I recall talking once with a former vicar who had had a congregation at a small town in country Tasmania who told me that the church still had its original register of deaths dating from the early 1800s' but on inquiring about the registers for births and marriages was told that these had long been destroyed because of the evidence of "cross-cultural fertilisation".
  3. Aboriginal people were not even counted as Australian citizens until a referendum was held in, I think, 1967. However, there was a lot of "mixing" during colonial times and many have unexpectedly found Aboriginal blood in their heritage while doing family tree research.

    I don't think Abos were even counted as human untill 2005
  4. monty,

    You're not exactly helping their cause by using derogatory terms when discussing them are you?

    This link to the Australian War Memorial site has some information regarding Aboriginals and service in the ADF:

    Australian War Memorial encylopedia

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  5. Oops I blame that on poor brain finger interface however, I still claim my birthright as a kiwi to badmouth anything Australian.

    In all seriousness I understand that there are/were some specialist tracker units with the Aussie Army Reserves manned by Aborigianls.
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  6. You mean the word Abo? Don't be so keen to get outraged on others behalf.

    As I understand it from my time spent in Oz the term "Abo" is used in the same way we would use, Jock, Taff, Paddy or Frog. Some "Abo's" don't like it, others dont give a ****. The Ozzies in general (again from my own experience) dont see the words Paki, Lebbo or Abo as taboo. To them it is nothing more than a shortened name.
    Maybe us overly PC Brits could take note.
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    • Show again braincell Show again braincell x 1
  7. I live in Australia and I can assure you the word is considered derogatory by many Australians, not just 'PC' ones.
    • Disagree Disagree x 1
  8. and many others don't consider it a derogatory term.

    Most of the Abo's I used to play Rugby with over there would no doubt roll their eyes at the thought of a "Pom" getting outraged on their behalf over the word. So I don't think you should be jumping down peoples throats for using the term.

    I have no wish to derail the thread further so we will just have to agree to disagree.
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  9. Sorry to hear that, you must have committed a major crime to still be there. When are you up for release ?
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  10. Dominek Dendooven and Piet Chielens have written about this topic in "Five Continents in Flanders" the companion book to the exhibition in Flanders Fields Museum of the same name.

    They estimate that between 400-500 aboriginals served overseas, many of mixed aboriginal European descent. It is hard to trace aboriginal soldiers because military papers did not mention their ethnic origin. Some pretended to be Pacific islanders, Maoris or Indians.

    The Flanders fields exhibition and book included a photograph of William Joseph Punch 1st Bn AIF who died of pneumonia in a British War hospital on 29 August 1917 and buried in Bournemouth East Cemetery UK.

    The Book also includes photos of a group of soldiers from 57 and 60th AIF after a snowball fight which included a photograph of an unidentified aboriginal.

    Other identified Aboriginal soldiers include

    Daniel Cooper of 24 bn AIF who died on 20th September 1917 and is buried in Perth (China Wall) cemetery Flanders. His father William Cooper was a well known aboriginal rights campaigner.

    The five out of six sons of the Lovett family of Lake Condah in Victoria who served in the Great War (the youngest four and a younger brother also served in the Second World War). All survived both wars.

    Those who served did not get the same land grants given to white volunteers and some were denied membership of local war veterans associations.
  11. Although the article doesn't directly say so, the Aussies have always been very wary of their closest neighbour to the north, Indonesia. I am not exactly sure what the Indos ( sorry I mean Indonesians) would actually take if they invaded the north of Australia. Aside from Darwin there are about a hundred million square miles of feck all except red dust and the world's most dangerous wildlife.
    During the 50s and 60s one of the scenarios the Kiwi Defence Forces worked on was that Indonesia would invade New Zealand to provide a base to get at the less crappy areas of Oz (sorry Australia) i.e the east coast.
  12. While I was on leave in Darwin from NZBATT2 East Timor 2000 I was amazed to see that you could buy cold methalated spirits in conveniance stores like 7/11 s. They had bottles of the stuff in glass fronted fridges next to the coke and lemonade. I also witnessed a well dressed and seemingly sober Aborigine getting refused admission to the Roukes Drift pub on Mitchell Street. Having said that the guy may have caused trouble there in the past.
    However, the Aborogines don't do themselves any favours either. It wasn't unusual to see them passed out drunk in a gutter or fighting in the entrance to the Victoria Mall, one of the main tourist areas in Darwin.
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  13. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    Here's a good start: Aboriginal Diggers, the forgotten men of the AIF

    and an absolute wealth of source material, including imagery and press cuttings, here: Indigenous Australians at War

    As an interesting aside, although they could enlist and were given citizenship in 1967, the Dept of Labour and National Service exempted Aboriginals ('Full-blooded aboriginal natives, half-caste aboriginal natives and persons who have an admixture of aboriginal blood and live as aboriginal natives or amongst aborigines') from registering for the National Service Ballot. This was mostly due to the administrative nightmare that the call up registration and implementation would incur. For one thing, the Australian ballot system was based on a young man's birth date. Something that was not recorded, if even known at all, for many aborigines at that time.

    Note that this exemption did not seem to apply to Torres Strait Islanders. Nor did it it stop Aboriginals from registering and 'opting in' the Ballot if they chose to.
    • Informative Informative x 1