Legislative Council: Wednesday, November 15, 2023


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial

The Hon. R.B. MARTIN (14:48): My question is to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Will the minister inform the council about the recent service at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial in honour of its 10th anniversary?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:48): I thank the honourable member for his question. It's always an honour to be invited along to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial and to be a part of the services that mark the lives and contributions of Aboriginal veterans.

The memorial on the corner of King William Road and Victoria Drive is a credit to Aboriginal Veterans SA. Aboriginal Veterans SA, in the capable hands of Uncle Frank Lampard OAM and Ian Smith, do much to honour the legacy of these veterans and their selfless sacrifices for the nation that for many years did not return the favour in the same manner.

There are countless stories like those of Tim Hughes that I shared the other week, where Aboriginal veterans returned home from service to find they had been excluded from the benefits bestowed upon counterparts with whom they had served, particularly whilst overseas. We owe a great debt to people like Tim Hughes and now to the chairs of Aboriginal Veterans SA for making sure these stories are told and that some of these injustices are corrected.

Along with advocating for the establishment of the memorial, Aboriginal Veterans SA's work includes the restoration of Aboriginal veterans' graves, maintaining a register of Aboriginal veterans, and spreading awareness of Aboriginal veterans' legacies through exhibitions and events. The work of this organisation is a credit to co-chair Frank Lampard in particular, who has dedicated so much of his energy and life to help Aboriginal veterans, which is one of the many reasons Uncle Frank Lampard was awarded the Premier's NAIDOC Award earlier this year.

The memorial was dedicated 10 years ago this month on 10 November 2013 and was unveiled by then Governor-General Quentin Bryce. Since then, the memorial has hosted many moving services, including an annual service during Reconciliation Week, which I mentioned in this chamber earlier this year. Last week, we gathered again at the memorial on a very hot day where the mercury just tipped the 40° mark, to mark the 10th anniversary of the memorial.

Despite the heat the service was, as these occasions always are, very well attended. There were many of our colleagues there, from both this chamber and the other place, including the Minister for Veterans Affairs, the Hon. Geoff Brock, the member for Waite, Catherine Hutchesson, as well as the member for Morialta, the member for Heysen and the member for Hammond. It was a poignant service with musical performances from Vonda Last and Florence, who performed a rendition of The Old Rugged Cross in Ngarrindjeri. Ngaire Jarro gave the key address, sharing her father, Jack Huggins', story of being a prisoner of war on the notorious Burma-Thailand Railway during World War II.

I was honoured to be part of sharing in the 10th anniversary of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial last week.