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ESO News: Indigenous ceremony outgrows bush site

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Tara Enchong with her father Mick Enchong on Anzac Day. The pair are dressed in their Air Force uniforms and wearing many medals each on both the left and right sides of their jackets.

Torres Strait Islander father and daughter Mick and Tara Enchong, from Murray and Darnley Islands, at the ceremony.

The annual Anzac Day Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commemoration on Mount Ainslie may move down the hill into the grounds of the Australian War Memorial (AWM) to accommodate increasing numbers of attendees.

The event is held after the Dawn Service in Canberra each year, and hosted by the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Veterans & Services Association (ATSIVSA).

Hundreds gathered this year for the service, held in scrubby bushland beside a memorial plaque on a lichen-covered rock which reads: ‘Remembering the Aboriginal people who served in the Australian Forces’.

The plaque was unveiled in 1988 on the 70th Remembrance Day at the site where a group of Indigenous children had been meeting each Anzac Day to commemorate their families’ service. They were supported by their school teacher and by Squadron Leader Gary Oakley, now president of ATSIVSA.

Campbell residents Honor and Michael Thwaites learnt of the annual ceremony and arranged for the installation of the plaque in a setting ‘which the Aboriginal people have known and loved for thousands of years’.

The 2019 service was likely to be held alongside ‘For Our Country’, a sculpture designed by Indigenous artist Daniel Boyd and due to be completed later this year and installed in the AWM’s grounds by February 2019.

Talks continue about the possibility of a National Indigenous War Memorial on Anzac Parade.

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