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Over a century of service to Australia

For over 100 years, Indigenous Australians have made a significant contribution to protecting Australia and its interests. Read about some of the milestones of indigenous service here

TIMELINE OF INDIGENOUS INVOLVEMENT

1899 - 1902
BOER WAR
1914 - 1918
WORLD WAR I
1920's - 1930's
Involved in Coastal Surveillance
& Wireless Guards
1939 - 1945
World War II
1950 - 1953
Korean War
1948 - 1960
Malayan Emergency
1962 - 1973
Vietnam War
1 JULY 1981
First RFSU is Reformed
1973 - Today
INVOLVED IN MAJOR DEFENCE OPERATIONS INCLUDING CAMBODIA
RWANDA, IRAQ, SOLOMON ISLANDS, TIMOR-LESTE AND AFGHANISTAN.

WORLD WARS I AND II

Over 400 Indigenous Australians served in the First World War and 6,000 either enlisted or supported the Army in the Second World War. Torres Strait Islanders made a particularly significant contribution with the formation of the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion.

TORRES STRAIT LIGHT INFANTRY BATTALION

Formed in 1943 the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion helped protect Australia's northern coastline from Japanese attack. Around 700 men used local knowledge to make a vital contribution to defensive operations, while some employed their culinary experience with the local marine life to help sustain thousands of troops in the area.

THE NORTHERN TERRITORY SPECIAL RECONNAISSANCE UNIT

Up to 50 tribal Yolngu men from East Arnhem Land were recruited for this unit in 1941. With their ability to live off the land they were highly mobile, and they used traditional bushcraft and fighting skills to patrol the coastal area and provide an early warning of Japanese attack during World War II.

REGIONAL FORCE SURVEILLANCE UNITS (RFSU)

RFSU were formed in the early 1980s, allowing members of Indigenous communities to make a valuable contribution to defending Australia's remote areas. Units currently operating include the North West Mobile Force (NORFORCE), 51st Battalion Far North Queensland Regiment (51FNQR) and the Pilbara Regiment; and their Indigenous members regularly share their unique skills and local knowledge with regular Army units.

AN INSPIRATIONAL
MILITARY AND
CIVILIAN CAREER

Oodgeroo Noonuccal, also known as Kath Walker, served in the Australian Women's Service during the Second World War and later participated in the Army's rehabilitation scheme by training in secretarial work and bookkeeping. She went on to become one of Australia's most respected and admired poets, educators and political activists.

MORE ON INDIGENOUS IN THE ADF

COMMUNITY & SUPPORT
The ADF has a range of programs intended to support service members and communities and to acknowledge significant Indigenous cultural events.
HOW TO JOIN
Find out more about how to join the ADF, and what's expected of you.

JOB & STUDY OPTIONS
There are a range of opportunities for all Australians to become involved in the ADF.

The term Indigenous Australians is used to describe all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Please be aware that this website may contain images or content relating to deceased persons. It may also contain words and descriptions that are culturally sensitive.