By conservative estimate 400 to 1,000 Indigenous men joined the 1st Australian Imperial Force between 1914 and 1918. They did so contrary to rules stipulating that volunteers must prove that they were of “substantially European descent”.
These soldiers returned to Australia to find that family land had been carved up to provide soldier settlement blocks for white veterans. Others, who’d sent money home from the front, discovered that venal protectors had stolen it and that their families, unable to support themselves in their absence, had been broken up and the children taken to orphanages. Most were not paid their postwar entitlements and were denied the repatriation health services – if injured – that were available to other veterans.
This session will explore what the history of these ‘Black ANZACs’ demonstrates about the racism and imperialism that continues to dominate politics in Australia today.