Lest We Forget

Rhonda Appo, Indigenous Program Manager, Queensland Tourism Industry Council

Rhonda Appo, Indigenous Program Manager, Queensland Tourism Industry Council

Lest We Forget

It’s been a funny few weeks with less time in the office and more time with the family. At times like this we have the opportunity to discuss those who came before us which is exactly what I thought I would do this week. So apologies, no tourism chat, but something more important.

ANZAC day provides the opportunity for us to reflect on those who came before us, who risked their lives for the freedom that we are now blessed with. But for Indigenous Australian’s the memory of war can be even more challenging.

What many people don’t realise and the story that is often hidden under a very large rug is that Indigenous Australian’s who fought for our country were not even acknowledged on their return to Australia. They were not afforded the same rights, the same support and the same pensions that white Australian’s were.

Can you imagine risking life and limb for a country that will not acknowledge you? Returning after seeing unimaginable horrors and then being left to deal with it all on your own? Watching those that you fought with, your mates, your brothers returning to pension packages, medical care and support and you getting nothing? Well that is exactly what happened to many Indigenous Australians. It’s funny that on a battle field we are all equal, but back home we’re not…..

There are some incredible stories of legends who endured and pioneered – someone more profound that me once said “we stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us”. One such giant was Len Waters, the first Aboriginal fighter pilot to serve in the Australian Airforce during World War II. You may have seen his face on a stamp or two over time. Hard work and dedication took him from working with his family to flying fighter jets. Yet on his return, the skills and the incredible talent was forgotten and he is quoted as saying he “went back to being a black fella”. Yet despite this, having met his family, it is clear to see the legacy he has created.

Why am I sharing all this with you? It’s about telling the truth. Sometimes the truth isn’t pretty, sometimes we may not be proud of what our truth is, but these stories deserve to be shared. These heroes deserve to be acknowledged and talked about, their stories and legacies just as important as anyone elses. With runways being developed as our industry grows, why not look to name them after some of our First Nations heroes, pioneers, game-changers to really start a conversation?!

Source = Rhonda Appo QTIC
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One thought on “Lest We Forget

  1. Peter Middleton May 1, 2019 at 12:56 pm - Reply
    Thank you Rhonda for publishing this. It is good to have seen this year, at least some moves to reveal the previously unheralded contributions of Australia's indigenous servicemen. While hindsight half a century down the track can view things very differently, it beggars belief that no-one in the RAAF, Flying Doctor or at some other influential level did not see the overall benefits to the wider community – let alone the man, his family and his immediate community – of assisting Len Waters to put the elite skills honed at war to great peace time use. I agree, he deserves to be recognised beyond a postage stamp.

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