To commemorate Anzac Day 2018, and the role of Indigenous Servicewomen in World War 1, Indigenous Services Librarian Melissa Jackson shares some personal thoughts on this important commemoration.
What does Anzac Day mean to you?
As the mother of a serviceman, I feel extremely patriotic on Anzac Day.
I love watching him march ... and I know I take too many photos... which embarrasses him. But I'd have to say my particular interest in Military History is in the Boer War and those Aboriginal men who were left behind in South Africa, so I also think of them on Anzac Day.
To your knowledge, what role did Indigenous women play in WWI?
The story of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women's contribution to WWI is largely under-reported simply because there were fewer women serving. In the book Serving our Country: Indigenous Australians, War, Defence and Citizenship (edited by Joan Beaumont and Allison Cadzow), Allison actually writes a chapter highlighting the important contribution of Aboriginal Servicewomen during that War.
That chapter, in particular, speaks about the services being seen by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women as an opportunity for professional advancement beyond the scope of domestic service. Allison also mentions that, as more people do their family history, more of these brave women's contributions to our freedoms will come to light.
What values do you think Australia should celebrate on Anzac Day?
Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women have served our country in an array of capacities in all the branches of the military. They did so with great pride often feeling equality for the first time - an equality that was not evident when they left the services. We are now doing amazing things for Indigenous recruitment and career pathways in the military and beyond, so the struggle of the Elders has not been for nothing.