Indigenous war stories get a wider audience

TWO Heywood Aboriginal elders helped prompt a decision to mount a Victorian tour of an exhibition about the war service of indigenous Australians.

The exhibition’s curator, Jean McAuslan, told a major museums’ conference in Warrnambool yesterday that Aboriginal elders John Lovett and Keith Saunders had approached her at the 2009 launch of the Indigenous Australians at War exhibition at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance and encouraged her to take the exhibition to a wider audience.

A talk by Ms Auslan and Joe Hextall, both from the Shrine of Remembrance exhibition team, about the evolution of the Indigenous Australians at War exhibition was one of the keynote addresses yesterday at the 2014 Victorian Museums and Galleries Conference in Warrnambool. 

Ms McAuslan said Mr Lovett had told her there were many young indigenous people who had no idea of the role their people played in the defence of Australia and who would benefit from seeing the exhibition.

The remarkable record of service by Mr Lovett’s own family is believed to be unparalleled by any other Australian family.

About 21 members of his extended family over five generations have served in Australia’s armed services from the First World War to the Afghanistan conflict.

Ms McAuslan said the Indigenous Australians at War exhibition was originally intended to be a temporary one but had now toured 16 Victorian venues over two-and-half-years, attracting 38,000 visitors.

The Victorian tour concluded earlier this year and discussions are under way to take it across Australia, Ms McAuslan said.

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