EXHIBITIONS @ The Centre Beaudesert Regional Gallery
5 June to 15 July
Image: Signalman Stanley Yuke, c. 1941 - courtesy of Yugambeh Museum Collection
Curated by the Queensland Museum in collaboration with Yugambeh Museum and a survey of local stories collected from community and from Scenic Rim Museums.
Features recent artworks by The Mununjali Art Group reflecting on these stories.
The experience of Aboriginal service people in war over the years has been a contrasting combination of respect, acceptance, segregation and discrimination. On the battlefield, it is thought that all soldiers fought together as equals, regardless of skin colour. However, many returned home to the same sorts of social injustices and discrimination that were at play when they enlisted.
In both the First and Second World Wars, there were periods where Aboriginal people were not officially allowed to enlist. To bypass these restrictions many were known to disguise their cultural identity, posing as Maori, Indians, or other races. However in both instances, a shortage of soldiers and increased threat levels saw eligibility criteria widened to allow Aboriginal people to sign up.
The motivation for Aboriginal people to serve varied depending on the individual. For some, the desire to protect their family and country saw them enlist. For others, it was the opportunity to earn comparatively decent wages to support themselves and their dependants. Others wanted to prove themselves as equal in the hope that it could help to improve their prospects for citizenship and living conditions back home.
Disturbingly, it has also been suggested that in some communities Aboriginal men and boys were coerced or forced by local authorities to join up.
The concept behind this exhibition was not to create exhaustive lists of service people or a definitive account of Aboriginal involvement in war, but to provide Scenic Rim community members with the opportunity to tell the stories of their family members who served. These are only some of the many stories of those who served from the region. It is anticipated that this exhibition will stimulate conversation and the sharing of histories within the community.
Regardless of the circumstances under which they served, the selflessness, courage and sacrifice of the “Black Diggers” deserves to be honoured by all.
Satellite displays relating to this exhibition also at Boonah Cultural Centre High St Boonah.