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On Every ANZAC Day

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Chris Thomason, Chaplain

Christ is risen. Alleluia.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

By the time this magazine gets to you we will be in the season of Easter. Truly a time to rejoice as we celebrate Christ’s victory.

An update, The Good Life will return next month with part 2 in the series, thank you so much to those how have already responded. I am enjoying reading about your good life. But I couldn’t let April go past without talking about the other important date in April, something that is close to my heart, ANZAC Day - 25 April.

There will be parades and services across Australia and our lectionary and prayer book have options for specific readings on the day. No doubt there will be sermons on the topic in some Anglican Churches. I celebrate ANZAC Day as a form of memorial service that commemorates those who have served in defence of our country. It is a time for reflection, a time to give thanks, a time to remember.

Some of us will be thinking of loved ones who have served and possibly even those we know or are related to that didn’t return or have passed away since returning home. Some of us may even attend our local RSL or pub and have a drink or two in memory of those we knew. This year I want to use the occasion to remind those that know, or bring to the attention of those that don’t know, a story about discrimination. Discrimination based on race.

Discrimination that was and is wrong. Discrimination that we have an opportunity to say something about. We have a way to acknowledge the wrongs done and do something to show that we care and at the same time make sure it does not happen again. We need to remember a group of Australians who volunteered to serve. This group weren’t considered Australians by our government, some even lied about their heritage to join up.

Whilst on active service they were treated no differently from any other soldier, sailor, or person who served in the air force. Standing side by side with their sisters and brothers in defence of our nation, however when they returned, they faced a very different reception. They weren’t allowed into the RSL clubs and the schemes giving land grants to veterans, whilst not specifically excluding them, were administered in such a way that very few were able to even apply.

Those few who managed to navigate that system found it harder still to survive on that granted land given the racism they faced.

Why was the service of Aboriginal people worth less than the service of others?

The colonisation of Australia is littered with such stories of discrimination, and we all have a duty to become informed about them. No matter if it was within the law back then or if people were simply following the rules, we now know it was wrong and we have a collective and individual responsibility to right those wrongs.

The first step I am suggesting is to get informed:

  • The Australian War Memorial has some great online information on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service in the Australian Defence Force
  • Read the Uluru Statement from the Heart
  • View the Ode of Remembrance in Nyungar
  • Look for local opportunities to learn and discuss the upcoming referendum
  • As Christians, ask what would Jesus do?
Image: Aboriginal Soldiers in Victoria in 1942
Anglicare WA ANZAC Day Aboriginal Soldiers in Victoria in 1942

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