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Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander War Memorial

Wednesday 1 January, 2014


In a ceremony that took place on 10 November 2013, Australia’s first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) War Memorial was unveiled. The memorial was dedicated by the Governor-General, Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce, AC, CVO, and Memorial Committee Co-Chair, Ms Marj Tripp AO.

Designed to instil respect and a sense of pride the war memorial stands in recognition of the significant contribution made by all ATSI servicemen and women to ensuring Australia’s security over the last 100 years.

Tony Rosella, Lee-ann Tjunypa Buckskin and Michelle Nikou designed the war memorial.  They worked alongside renowned South Australian sculptor Robert Hannaford on a vision to provide a nationally significant memorial that educates and acknowledges the significant efforts of Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander people.

The conceptual focus of the memorial gives attention to both fulfilling Aboriginal rituals and those of the Defence force. A strong symbolic cultural interconnectedness underpins all aspects of the memorial design. It captures perfectly the spirit of strength, resolve and love of country in the sculpture of the Aboriginal soldier in World War I uniform and Aboriginal Servicewoman in World War II.

Located in the North West corner of the Torrens Parade Ground at a place known by the local Kaurna as Karrawirraparri (Red Gum Forest River) the bronze sculptures are complemented by a ceremonial centre to provide a contemplative and reflective focal point to honour the memory of our ATSI fallen. It contains four bronze insignia representing Navy, Army, Air Force and Merchant Navy and can also accommodate laying of floral tributes.  Within the Ceremonial Centre there is a Coolamon cast in bronze that on significant dates will hold smoking gum leaves to cleanse and prepare the site. The boulders, sourced from Walkers Flat in Peramangk country, are a national representation of special features in the landscape created by ancestral beings such as the Rainbow Dreaming Serpent.  They demonstrate Aboriginal people’s connection to land, stories, to each other, and close connection to the past. Inside the war memorial rock lives an ancestral being who safeguards and protects the memorial.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial Committee overcame many obstacles to realise the project. They worked tirelessly over seven years to raise the $1 million dollars needed to complete this important project.

The Aboriginal Veterans’ Commemorative Service on Friday 29 May, coinciding with Reconciliation Week, is currently being planned by the RSL-SA.

To read more about the ATSI War Memorial download the booklet via the link below:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial Booklet


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