RSL Victoria would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and pay our respects to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia, who have served and continue to serve in the military, as we acknowledge NAIDOC Week. Their immense contributions to the defence of our nation and their unwavering commitment to upholding our shared values deserve our utmost admiration and recognition.

For countless generations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have demonstrated profound resilience, strength, and dedication to the defence of their lands and communities. From the frontier conflicts of the past to the present-day service in the Australian Defence Force, their stories of courage and sacrifice have often been overlooked or underrepresented.

Today, we stand together, united in our acknowledgment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have served in our armed forces. We acknowledge their rich cultural heritage, which has shaped their unique perspectives, strengths, and contributions on the battlefield and beyond. We honour their commitment to protecting our nation and their deep connection to country, kinship, and culture.

Through their service, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service members have forged pathways for future generations, breaking barriers, and defying stereotypes. They have demonstrated extraordinary resilience and leadership, bringing their distinct wisdom, traditions, and knowledge systems to enrich our armed forces and our society.

As we reflect on the proud history and ongoing service of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander military personnel, we recognise that there is still much work to be done in acknowledging and rectifying past injustices. We commit ourselves to fostering a future that celebrates diversity, respects the First Nations peoples, and ensures equitable opportunities for all.

In celebrating NAIDOC Week, we acknowledge the living culture and heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We are grateful for their invaluable contributions to our military and our nation. Let us strive for reconciliation, mutual understanding, and respect, so that the stories and voices of our First Nations heroes may continue to shine brightly and inspire future generations.

Lest we forget.

- Dr Rob Webster OAM, RSL Victoria State President