Skip to main content

Monday, 25 April 2022
Redfern Community Centre and Redfern Park
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC

Thank you, Aunty Barbara[1] for your warm Welcome to Country, and to Glen Collis and the Glen Dancers.

I acknowledge the Gadigal, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet, and pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

At dawn this morning, at Martin Place and in thousands of ceremonies across the country, we solemnly declared:

We will remember them. 

 We do so because we recognise that remembrance is important. I said to a friend whose 100-year-old father died this week, that even when a parent’s death is expected, it doesn’t soften the sadness and it doesn’t break that irreplaceable bond between, in her case, parent and child. In fact, it deepens it.  

We have many such bonds in life.  Our parents, brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles, deep friendships which count as family.   That is why remembrance is not only important, it is essential to the human experience. ANZAC Day, when we commemorate those who fought, those who died and have died since, engages us in personal reflections of pride and sadness but also in community pride and community sadness.  

As a white Australian, I ask myself how much deeper is that sadness in a community where mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunties and uncles, and friends were not commemorated, for whom there was no community recognition and no community remembrance. It is not my personal experience, but it is my deep sense of something that shouldn’t have happened. Something very important has been missed.

There are stories that must be told:  stories of equal bravery and sacrifice, of camaraderie, or as Sapper Bert Beros wrote so simply yet powerfully in The Coloured Digger: “he is always there when wanted”.  Then, there are the stories of unequal treatment when those very same brave service men and women returned home to discrimination and prejudice, ejection from hotels and public places, denial of employment and the benefits offered to other returning service personnel.[2]

Today and every year that this ceremony has been held is, I trust, a step towards filling that gap of too many untold stories and of unfulfilled remembrance.  Thank you for asking me and others like me to take those steps with you. 

Thank you for allowing us to share in the community remembrance of:

>over 1,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who served during the First World War seeing action in Gallipoli, the Middle East and on the Western Front.[3]

> over 6,000 Indigenous personnel who served during the Second World War.

> those who served in Korea and the Malayan Emergency, and upwards of 300 who served in Vietnam, in the armour, artillery and engineering units of the Army as well as in support units of the Navy and Airforce.

> the First Nations people who, since 1975, have served in peacekeeping operations in Somalia, East Timor, Cambodia, Rwanda, Solomon Islands, Afghanistan and Iraq.

>and we remember those, who long before the ANZAC tradition, fought in the frontier wars on their lands in the first 140 years of white settlement in Australia. Let not that remembrance be, as Napoleon wrote of  ‘historical truth’,  which he said: ‘is too often merely a word’.

Indigenous Australians’ contribution to this most unique land and its peoples is a matter of celebration. Today, for those Indigenous Australians who have served, it is a time of community commemoration.

We will remember them.

Back to Top