Feb 21st 2020

RSL owes a debt to First Nations servicemen and women

Following today’s ban by RSLWA of the performance of Welcome to Country ceremonies and the flying of the Aboriginal flag at all of its Anzac and Remembrance Day services, GetUp says there is no place for racism on Anzac Day and calls on the Government and the RSL to honour the country’s debt to First Nations service men and women.

“This racist decision erases the long history of national service by First Nations servicemen and servicewomen, both in peacetime and in war,” said First Nations Justice Director Larissa Baldwin. 

“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag is a national flag that flies proudly alongside the Australian flag as a symbol of unity in Parliaments, in schools, everywhere.  It is the RSL who is dividing us.

“The RSL is so out of step it’s disgraceful. 

“When First Nations service men and women returned to Australia from two world wars they were denied the same honour as their fellow soldiers - denied entry to RSL clubs, removed off their country, struggled to gain employment and still denied citizenship after serving their country.

“All Australians owe a debt to First Nations service men and women, and the RSL should be making every effort to include First Nations people in their ceremonies to make amends for past wrongs.

“First Nations service men and women made significant contributions, a proud history for which the RSL owes a debt of gratitude and it’s high time they honoured it.

“All leaders should loudly condemn this racist move by the RSLWA and honour the debt that all Australians owe First Nations service men and women,” said Larissa Baldwin.

Larissa Baldwin is a Widjabul woman and Getup’s First Nations Justice Campaign Director