2023 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Servicemen and Servicewomen Commemoration Service

The 2023 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Servicemen and Servicewomen Commemoration Service in Sydney on 26 May was a powerful tribute to the service and sacrifice of First Nations’ veterans. This annual event, coinciding with National Reconciliation Week  (27 May – 3 June), combines conventional military protocol with Indigenous ceremonial displays, with a special emphasis on engaging school children.

The service included a traditional smoking ceremony, featuring the involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, school students, current serving members, and veterans of the Australian Defence Force at the Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park. Guest speakers shared their exceptional stories, inspiring all attendees to ‘Be a Voice for Generations’. Their remarkable narratives shed light on the significant contributions and sacrifices made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and servicewomen. These stories serve not only to commemorate the past but also to ignite a sense of pride and unity among all Australians.

Throughout history, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have valiantly served Australia in every war and conflict, starting from the Boer War. Their bravery and dedication were undeniable as they fought alongside their fellow Australians. Today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to proudly serve in all branches of the Australian Defence Force.

RSL NSW President Ray James said that the RSL continues to support and acknowledge the service and sacrifice of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have served their country in all wars and conflicts.

The RSL established an annual Captain Reg Saunders Memorial Scholarship in 1992 to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to use their skills or profession for the benefit of their community.

To watch the 2023 service, visit the RSL NSW Facebook page, where the event was live-streamed.  The Order of Service is available here.

Images from the 2023 Service

About National Reconciliation Week

National Reconciliation Week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. The theme for National Reconciliation Week 2023, “Be a Voice for Generations”, urges all Australians to use their power, their words, and their actions to create a better, more just Australia for all of us.

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