RSLWA HAS ENORMOUS RESPECT FOR OUR FIRST NATIONS VETERANS AND IS NOT BANNING ANYTHING
RSLWA is deeply saddened by efforts to question its respect for our First Nations Veterans and the Indigenous community as a whole.
Today’s media reports that RSLWA is banning the flying of the Aboriginal flag and Welcome to Country dedications at ANZAC Day services is not only harmful, but incorrect.
Indeed, RSLWA supports the rights of all Government and community entities flying the Indigenous flag and making a Welcome to Country dedication at official ceremonies. What RSL is not supportive of is the use of Welcome to Country as part of the actual service itself in terms of the Dawn Service of ANZAC Day and the 11am Service at Remembrance Day.
READ MORE: RSLWA Commemoration Policy-Cultural
For example, RSLWA supports and encourages the conduct of a combined Indigenous/Maori Ceremony immediately after the Dawn Service itself.
RSLWA cannot ban anything, nor does it ever wish to deny anyone this right to show respect for our First Nations people. In fact, this would fly against everything that our ANZACS (of all cultural backgrounds) fought and often died for throughout history.
Veterans and communities come together each year to pay their respects for our brave Diggers, notably on ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day.
On days such as these, Australians – irrespective of ethnicity, race or cultural background – come together in inclusivity as one united community to share what binds them. They gather, united in the commemoration of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and those prepared to do so in the defence of the nation.
During the brief and very sacred ANZAC Day Dawn Service and Remembrance Day service, we unite to pay our respect to those Diggers who came from all cultural backgrounds.
RSLWA also respects the inclusion of the Welcome to Country and/or Acknowledgement of Country and the flying of the Australian Aboriginal Flag at other commemorative events such as Indigenous Veteran Service Day, National Sorry Day, National Reconciliation week and NAIDOC week. Furthermore, RSLWA respects the right of any government and community entities to do likewise.
In fact, we celebrate our Indigenous warriors – and those of New Zealand – with the attendance of the hugely popular cultural dances in traditional dress immediately after the Dawn Service in Kings Park.
In addition, RSLWA respects the right to use the Acknowledgement of Country by Regal, Vice-Regal and Government representatives at ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day, yet is opposed to such use at the Dawn Service and Remembrance Day service.
RSLWA’s approach to the form and conduct of commemoration is to commemorate in a way that respects all who served, and still serve, no matter their background.