Letter to the editor
In the [December 2022] edition of Vetaffairs, you stated that Indigenous Australians were not able to take part as conscripts during the Vietnam War. This is misleading as I know of at least one Indigenous Australian who did in fact enlist. He was with me in the sixth intake. We did Kapooka recruitment and then Singleton Infantry School. He went to Vietnam and served with 2RAR from June 1967 until 1968.
So some did make it in that way.
Thanks for your email, Mr Carver. I’ve contacted Michael Bell, Indigenous Liaison Officer at the Australian War Memorial (AWM). He’s explained that while it was Government policy that Indigenous descent was a legal exemption to National Service, this exemption was applied arbitrarily, and the AWM has identified many National Servicemen conscripts who were Indigenous. Michael says that sometimes First Nations men were allowed to be conscripted for a variety of reasons. First Nations men exempted from conscription could voluntarily enlist.
DVA extends our respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their cultures and to their elders past and present. We acknowledge the services of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans who have contributed to serving Australia.
Capitalising Anzac / ANZAC
Please note that it is Government/DVA policy to spell the word ‘Anzac’ with only a capital A in most instances, as the initialism ANZAC has become a word, just as QANTAS has become Qantas – so, ‘Anzac Day’, ‘Anzac biscuit’, ‘Anzac tradition’. However, we still refer to the corps itself as ANZAC. No disrespect is intended.