[ACNS] St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, Australia, has begun a consultation on the possible installation of two memorials to commemorate the role that Aboriginal people have made to Australia’s armed forces.
One memorial would commemorate Aboriginal lives lost in the frontier wars – the 146 years of conflict between indigenous Australians and European settlers who began colonising the island from 1788. The fighting cost the lives of between 2,000 and 2,500 Europeans and some 20,000 indigenous Australians; although modern scholarship now says that a much larger number of indigenous people were killed.
Another memorial would commemorate Aboriginal service personnel in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) – the main expeditionary force of the Australian Army during World War I.
The cathedral is also considering “a comprehensive redesign of the Flinders Street frontage to reflect the traditional land and its owners.”
“Whenever we meet for worship in the Cathedral, we remind ourselves and others of the traditional owners of the land on which we pray,” the Dean of Melbourne, the Very Revd Dr Andreas Loewe, said. “In our anniversary year we would like to make visible this recognition by creating suitable memorials that honour the contribution of aboriginal people to the life of our community and nation.”
Dr Loewe made his comments during celebrations on Sunday marking the 125th anniversary of the consecration of St Paul’s Cathedral.
The proposals are currently being considered by the cathedral Chapter’s Culture and Heritage Committee, which is now reaching out to the Koori Heritage Trust and other Koori elders and artists to assist with the process.
“We hope to progress this within our 125 anniversary year, and would be delighted to hear from philanthropic partners to help us make this important vision for a physical recognition of the process of reconciliation in which we are engaged a reality,” Dr Loewe said.