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‘For Country, for Nation’ exhibition on the road

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Three Indigenous veterans, Harry Allie, Ray Rosendale and Roy Mundine, standing together outside with trees behind them.

Among the exhibits is this photograph of Harry Allie, Indigenous Elder, Royal Australian Air Force with Ray Rosendale, Navy Strategic Advisor on Indigenous Cultural Affairs and Roy Mundine, Indigenous Elder, Australian Army. Uncle Harry Allie always wanted to go back to communities to promote opportunities. ‘When I got a letter inviting me to be Air Force Indigenous Elder, I was in awe,’ he said.

An Australian War Memorial exhibition honouring the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the Australian Defence Force will tour Australia over the next three years.

For Country, for Nation recognises Indigenous Australians who have served and continue to serve in the military as well as those who have worked in ancillary, industry, and other home-front activities. Often their communities were thrust into the frontline of war.

The temporary exhibition highlights these stories and explores themes of remembrance and tradition through family histories, objects, art, and photographs from across Australia, drawing inspiration from cultural traditions and symbols of warriors’ discipline, knowledge, leadership, and skill.

Memorial Director Dr Brendan Nelson said the exhibition presented not only the military dimensions of service but also the inequitable social context in which this service was given.

‘Only four or five generations after the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, living in a desperately unequal Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples enlisted to fight for the young nation that has taken so much from them, often denying their heritage to do so,’ Dr Nelson said.

‘Indigenous Australians have served in every conflict this country has engaged in and they continue to do so with pride and professionalism, which is nothing short of inspiring.’

For Country, for Nation will be at the Griffith Regional Art Gallery NSW until 22 July 2018 and will appear at the Melbourne Museum in Victoria from 10 August to 7 October. For 2019–21 tour dates, see the Australian War Memorial website.

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