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"He proved he's still a warrior" - Indigenous veterans honoured on ANZAC Day

Giovanni Torre -

Anzac Day will again see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans honoured at the Coloured Digger March and events.

Ken 'Kira-Dhan' Zulumovski, an Aboriginal man who served in the Royal Australian Artillery Corps while balancing a career in Aboriginal mental health, is the lead organiser of the Coloured Digger Project, which is now in its 18th year.

The Coloured Digger March and Coloured Digger Project take their names from the poem "The Coloured Digger" by Sapper Bert Beros, non-Aboriginal soldier who fought in the Second World War and wrote the poem in honour of Private West, one of his Aboriginal comrades.

He came and joined the colours, when the War God's anvil rang,

He took up modern weapons to replace his boomerang,

He waited for no call-up, he didn't need a push,

He came in from the stations, and the townships of the bush.

He helped when help was wanting, just because he wasn't deaf;

He is right amongst the columns of the fighting A.I.F.

He is always there when wanted, with his Owen gun or Bren,

He is in the forward area, the place where men are men.

He proved he's still a warrior, in action not afraid,

He faced the blasting red-hot fire from mortar and grenade;

He didn't mind when food was low, or we were getting thin,

He didn't growl or worry then, he'd cheer us with his grin.

He'd heard us talk democracy, They preach it to his face

Yet knows that in our Federal House there's no one of his race.

He feels we push his kinsmen out, where cities do not reach,

And Parliament has yet to hear the Aborigine's maiden speech.

One day he'll leave the Army, then join the League he shall,

And he hopes we'll give a better deal to the Aboriginal

WWI veteran George Bennett. Photo supplied.

Mr Zulumovski previously told National Indigenous Times that he finds it "extremely encouraging that Australia, as a nation, is finally starting to open up and have the uncomfortable conversations about our true history".

"With that comes a deeper understanding and appreciation for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who volunteered to leave their country and kin to go far way to a distant land and defend a system that did not value or recognise them. One that in fact brutally oppressed them. They fought for the freedom of all of us while their freedom and rights at home were largely unseen."

WWII army veteran Donald Edward Waters. Photo supplied.

The project, which honours Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans, needs ongoing community support and relies on the hard work of volunteers, and welcomes donations.

WWII soldier Stewart Murray, aged 17. (Image: Ngarra Murray - Murray Family Collection)

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