Recognition For Aboriginal Veterans On The West Coast

On Anzac Day this year, Nauo man Jody Miller was proud to represent his Great Uncle Arthur Weetra and other Aboriginal veterans at the Anzac Day service at Gallipoli Beach near Coffin Bay. 

Mr Miller raised an Aboriginal flag and delivered a Welcome to Country to the crowd gathered on the beach, which included Member for Grey Rowan Ramsay and Member for Flinders Peter Treloar.

He told the story of his Great Uncle, who had been proud to fight for Australia, but dismayed at the injustice he faced when he returned home

In September 1944, war veteran and Point Pearce resident Arthur Weetra wrote to the Advertiser calling for proper recognition of returned Aboriginal soldiers.

“lt appears obvious to me that the Federal Government has forgotten the returned aboriginal soldiers’ services rendered in the last war and the present campaign. It makes one wonder why it does not appreciate the grand work of these brave men in the same manner as it values the splendid job carried out by white diggers. The Government has granted these men wonderful concessions without being asked, and I trust it will extend the same sympathy to the returned aboriginal diggers.

Arthur Weetra, Ex-1st AIF Point Pearce”

“He wrote that letter after being locked up just for entering a pub” Mr Miller explained.

“When he was serving overseas he could sit down and have a drink with other soldiers, but when he came back to Australia and walked into the pub, he got pinched for it”

“He went overseas to fight the war for Australia and he comes back to his own country where he gets treated like a criminal” Mr Miller said.

Mr Miller said that he felt it was important to honour the memory of his family members and all Aboriginal veterans who had faced similar treatment.

SANTS acknowledges that the land on which our office is based is the traditional lands for the Kaurna people and we respect their spiritual and cultural relationship with their country.