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Lest We Forget: Military Myths, Memory, and Canberra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Memorial

Anne Brennan


The precinct surrounding the Australian War Memorial is saturated in official commemorative narratives of Australian military history, from which the contribution of indigenous servicemen and women is completely absent. Those wishing to remember them must turn to a modest unofficial memorial on the southern slopes of Mt Ainslie, behind the Australian War Memorial. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Memorial is essentially nothing more than a plaque on a rock set in bushland, but over time it has assumed the status of a quasi-official memorial used strategically by different stakeholders for different purposes. Originally erected in 1988 by a concerned white citizen of Canberra, the original story of the memorial has become hidden beneath a palimpsest of different stories, each of which shapes the memorial to the different purposes of its stakeholders.