Festival Thinking: Black Diggers



the story of black diggers in World War one is a story of hope of trying to come together of understanding and the history forgotten what you'll see on stage is nine Aboriginal men representing a number of stories we've been tapping into what it means to be an Aboriginal man now and what it must have meant meant then when you were told you couldn't marry or couldn't earn money or couldn't own land or you couldn't travel from town to town four hundred and fifty thousand Australians enlisted and fought in World War one and of that four hundred and fifty thousand about one thousand it's now seems were Aboriginal soldiers it's a very significant portion because we've actively forgotten their service the contrast between them being treated as equals when they're in the military and being treated as second-class inferior people's when they return from the war is quite striking one of the difficulties has been finding the names of many Aboriginal soldiers so we've been drawing on the work of past researchers in this area to try and get names get original documents try and track down photos family stories and other kinds of histories of what their life was like before the war during the war and after they returned to Australia we're coming up to the centenary of World War one and it's no accident that an indigenous story is the first big example of commemorating World War one Aboriginal servicemen have been part of every Theatre of war since Federation through to now and so for us to tell that story to write onto the public record Aboriginal servicemen at Gallipoli at the Western Front in Palestine all those kind of areas is important for us as a part of a reconciliation movement we hope that it provokes the desire for everyone who sees it to find out more because these stories deserve remembering if these stories don't get out there how will we actually be able to move forward if we don't have this history how can we have a future you

Michael Martin

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