Wed. May 29th, 2024

Servicemen returning from war were promised land. Only two Aboriginal veterans received any

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May24,2024
The First People’s Assembly of Victoria says it has written to federal and state ministers calling on them to provide recognition for Aboriginal servicemen who were excluded from a scheme that helped veterans acquire land.
The Soldier Settlement Scheme aimed to build farming communities by giving returning WWI & WWII servicemen loans for the purchase of parcels of land and equipment.

A joint project between federal and state governments, Victoria had acquired some 1m hectares of Crown land by 1930, and 12,000 soldiers took advantage of the scheme.

Though roughly 1000 Aboriginal veterans from both world wars would have been eligible, only two are known to have benefited from the scheme.
Co-Chair of the Assembly, Ngarra Murray, said some form of recognition was necessary for the veterans who were denied the scheme, such as her grandfather.
“Having volunteered to serve a nation that barely recognised our peoples’ existence, Aboriginal soldiers, like my grandfather, risked their lives fighting for Australia,” the Wamba Wamba Yorta Yorta Dhudhuroa Dja Dja Wurrung woman said.
“But when they got home they faced the same old racism and discrimination. They were denied equal opportunity in their own country and the disadvantage that caused has trickled down generations.”

Ms Murray said she would be writing to Federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Matt Keogh, and Victorian Minister for Treaty and First Peoples Natalie Hutchins asking them to look at options for redressing the historic wrong.

Yoorrook hears of historic wrong

YOORROOK JUSTICE COMMISSION

Ngarra Murray (left) and Rueben Berg of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria giving evidence during hearings by the Yoorrook Justice Commission related to land, sky and waters. Credit: JOEL CARRETT/AAPIMAGE

Ms Hutchins addressed Ms Murray’s grievances when she appeared at the Yoorrook Commission last week.

Ms Murray told her grandfather’s story of lying about his age so he could enlist, and the discrimination he faced when he returned home.
The minister acknowledged the hurt of that betrayal.
“Many people were discriminated against and lost opportunity to become holders of that land through that scheme,” she said.
“I’m deeply, deeply saddened to read and hear about the returned soldiers, how they were treated and the ongoing effects that that’s had on their families,” she said.
Due to the original scheme’s design as a collaboration between federal and state governments, Ms Hutchins said any reparation would have to be similarly constructed.
However that was refuted by Commissioner Anthony North KC, who asserted that Victoria could act independently.
“It just struck me that it’s an obvious injustice. A lot of it is a long time ago … why wouldn’t you fix it?” he asked Ms Hutchins.
“It just doesn’t strike me as something that should be difficult to address.”
Though some form of recognition was discussed, Ms Hutchins could not specify what that would be, but ruled out a retrospective award of land leases.

“I certainly feel that land allocations in this circumstance would go a long way, but I don’t know that they are a reality,” Ms Hutchins said.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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One thought on “Servicemen returning from war were promised land. Only two Aboriginal veterans received any”
  1. Why were only two Aboriginal veterans able to benefit from the Soldier Settlement Scheme? Was there no effort to include more of them in the program?

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