We will never know the exact number of Indigenous men who served in the First World War as many did not list their background due to fear of discrimination. The government did not at first permit Indigenous Australians to enlist, although restrictions were later eased. Regardless of this prejudice, more than 400 Indigenous people did decide to enlist and fought for their country alongside fellow Australian soldiers. However, they did not receive the same benefits as non-Indigenous soldiers upon their return home.
As a class, watch 'The Forgotten' by Glen Stasiuk, a 40-minute documentary highlighting the Indigenous soldiers in the Australian Armed Forces. The DVD is available for purchase from Message Stick, 'The Forgotten', http://www.abc.net.au/tv/messagestick/stories/s820390.htm
- Discuss the contribution of Indigenous servicemen and servicewomen as outlined in the film.
- Once students have learned more about the conditions awaiting returned soldiers, ask them to write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, protesting about the inequality of the treatment of Indigenous soldiers, such as Sid, and non-Indigenous soldiers after they returned from the First World War.