A new artwork has been installed alongside a busy Adelaide intersection in a move the SA government hopes will help to better recognise the contribution of Aboriginal soldiers who have served Australia at war.
- A new artwork has been installed at Panorama honouring Aboriginal soldiers
- The sculptures can be seen from the upgraded Goodwood Road intersection
- The SA government says it’s part of its election promise to better recognise Aboriginal heritage
The artwork has been permanently installed as part of the Goodwood, Springbank and Daws road intersection upgrade, funded by the state and federal governments.
Designed by Tania Taylor from the Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation, the artwork features four sculptures that represent a ceremonial flame, a traditional Kaurna warrior, a soldier representing those from World Wars I and II and a modern-day soldier.
Mukapaanthi, which is the Kaurna word for remember, is displayed at the front of the artwork, with Australian and Aboriginal flags raised behind the sculptures.
“Mukapaanthi — remember, the struggles during colonisation with the taking of land and massacre of people and Mukapaanthi — remember that Kaurna people and Aboriginal people have been involved defending their country in every armed conflict that Australia has been involved in,” Aboriginal Affairs Minister Kyam Maher said.
“Tens of thousands of people who travel along Goodwood Road will get to see these sculptures and give time and a cause to reflect.”
As part of another state government project, South Australia’s Aboriginal communities last week nominated more than 100 Indigenous people who they believe should be honoured with a statue.
Mr Maher has been tasked with creating a shortlist from which six people will eventually be chosen to be comemorated.
Today Mr Maher said it was critical for Aboriginal heritage to be better recognised in the state.
“We have a lot of monuments, a lot of statues to our colonial history, to what white people have done in Australia,” he said.
“That’s one of the reasons the Labor Party took a policy to the last election … to make sure we fund and we create more statues and more monuments reflecting the fullness of our shared history in this country.”
Mr Maher said many Aboriginal veterans returned from war to have their land taken from them.
“We reflect on our history with Aboriginal veterans, who weren’t even counted as citizens for most of our history, that Aboriginal people have gone to fight in wars and many Aboriginal people returned and had their land taken and given, in some circumstances, to white soldiers who returned as part of soldier settlement schemes,” he said.
Six months ago, the Australian Aboriginal flag and the Torres Strait Islander flag became permanent fixtures outside South Australia’s Government House for the first time in the building’s 183-year history.
Aboriginal Veterans SA co-chair Uncle Frank Lampard welcomed efforts to better recognise the contribution Aboriginal people have made, but said there was still a long way to go.
“It’s going well but we have a lot more work to do,” he said.
He said there were currently 27 young Aboriginal men and women in the 7th Battalion at the Edinburgh Royal Australian Air Force military base in Adelaide.
“You can see the work we’ve done both in the recognition, the acknowledgement and the education pathways that go with that,” he said.
“Not to mention of course the national project of headstones, we have come to recognise that a lot of our people have been buried in unmarked graves, all over the state.”
The Headstone Project South Australia has estimated that there could be more than 2,500 unmarked graves of Indigenous and non-Indigenous veterans in the state.
Uncle Frank said they had addressed unmarked graves in the Riverland and in Adelaide’s West Terrace Cemetery with strong support from the local communities.
“In the new year, in March or so, we are going to head down to the south-east of the state because we have discovered that there is a lot of our veterans in unmarked graves in places like Kingston, in places like Robe and of course there are numbers of them in two different cemeteries in Mount Gambier,” he said.