25 September 2023

Defence recruitment ahead of target

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The Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel has declared that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is continuing to improve its record for employing Indigenous Australians.

Marking Reconciliation Week last week, the Minister, Darren Chester said it was important to recognise the roles Indigenous people continued to fulfil within the ADF.

“As at 1 May, 2.8 per cent of the permanent ADF identify as Indigenous, which is above the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan goal of 2.7 per cent representation,” Mr Chester said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women have served to all areas of our defence forces and this week we honour their service and sacrifice.”

He said that since the Boer War, Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people had walked together with courage while serving in defence of the nation.

“Sadly, more than 100 years ago Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not given equal recognition as British subjects, yet in the armed services they were treated as equals with all who shared their rank,” Mr Chester said.

“During the First World War, Aboriginals and Torres Strait islanders were not permitted to enlist until late 1917 when rules were changed to allow those with one European parent to do so.

“However, throughout the war some recruiting officers turned a blind eye and allowed Indigenous Australians to enlist.”

He said that by World War II there was increasing recognition of the role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people could play in the defence of Australia, specifically their intimate knowledge of the land, coastline and waters of the north.

“It is important to remember and honour the service and sacrifice of current and former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defence personnel and their valuable contribution in wars, conflicts, peace-keeping operations and on the home front,” Mr Chester said.

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