AHEAD of ANZAC Day 2021, RSLWA wishes to communicate its commitment to recognition of traditional ownership of land upon which commemorations take place in Western Australia.
RSLWA has for some time consulted with a range of views and opinions on commemoration activities on indigenous land and the importance of recognising the traditional custodians. Importantly, this has included consulting indigenous Veterans who have served alongside their mates and colleagues in the Australian Defence Force for more than 100 years.
While RSLWA is regarded as custodians of the State War Memorial in Kings Park, it is appropriate to respect and recognise the importance of acknowledgement of traditional owners as part commemorations – in particular ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day.
As such, Acknowledgement of Country at the commencement of commemoration activities is strongly encouraged by RSLWA State Branch. The organisation will continue the practice of listening to, and liaising with, its indigenous members, all indigenous Veterans and the wider community of Western Australia.
For the Acknowledgement of Country, RSLWA’s policy is to first offer the opportunity to make such acknowledgement by an Indigenous Veteran. Otherwise, acknowledgment would be made by another appropriate person of RSLWA.
RSLWA Vice President and Chair of the organisation’s WA Veterans Affairs Committee, Duncan Anderson, said commemoration of all former and current Veterans is sacrosanct in the way in which it is conducted, out of respect for those who served, and who still serve, under the Australian National flag.
“It is an immense privilege and responsibility for RSLWA to lead commemoration,” he said. “Importantly, RSLWA recognises that commemoration activities are undertaken on Aboriginal lands and RSLWA strongly encourages, in all instances, Acknowledgement of Country as part of services conducted by Sub-Branches and the wider community throughout Western Australia.”
“RSLWA’s policy reflects the widely accepted recognition of Country undertaken by the National War Memorial and will look to the protocols of the AWM on commemorations into the future.”
RSLWA will also support other indigenous commemoration activities held during NAIDOC Week and RSLWA remains able and willing to provide assistance in the most appropriate manner to conduct commemoration activities.