Armistice Centenary: Ernie Dingo to speak at Quinns Rocks Remembrance Day service

Ernie Dingo & Kenan Huseini. Photo: Bruce Hunt
Ernie Dingo & Kenan Huseini. Photo: Bruce Hunt

INDIGENOUS soldiers will be remembered during the Armistice Centenary commemorations in Quinns Rocks this Sunday.

Ernie Dingo will be the guest speaker at Quinns Rocks RSL’s Remembrance Day service at the Quinns Rocks Sports Club.

Mr Dingo said many Aboriginal men who went to war would not have otherwise considered getting a passport.

“They came back with service records; that too is like a badge of honour that they served,” he said.

“A lot of them went to war because it was a symbol of manhood; to do something right for your country.”

However, he said those men faced challenges before they even reached the battlefield, because they were not recognised as citizens of their own country and many used fake names to enlist.

“The reason why they have gone away was to do something for what they believe in and make Australia a safer place,” he said.

In his own family, his twin grandsons Leslie and Kelvin Dingo have served in the Army Reserves and his older sister Marion was a stenographer and did radio for the Navy.

As well as the emphasis on recognising Indigenous soldiers, Quinns Rocks RSL hopes to recruit more people returning from recent conflicts and service.

President Kenan Huseini is one of the youngest veterans in the sub-branch, having served as a medic in the Royal Australian Navy for 14 years, including stints in the Arabian Gulf after September 11 and border protection.

Mr Huseini said he joined the RSL “to give a bit back to veterans and to get involved” after leaving the Navy in 2014.

“You get used to being involved and all of a sudden, you are not when you leave,” he said.

Mr Huseini said most of the veterans were in their 70s or older, and many served in World War II, Vietnam War or Korean War.

“We need to get as many young people and young veterans involved as well,” he said.

Mr Dingo said a lot of returning soldiers died of self-harm “because the general public don’t understand what they went through” and they struggled to fit back in to civilian life.

Mr Huseini said the RSL helped veterans access support services to cope with what they experienced, including when the military provided relief after natural disasters or aircraft crashes.

“Sometimes the most traumatic things that you see aren’t conflicts,” he said.

“My worst stuff that I saw and the stuff that affects me today wasn’t from the Gulf.

“It was from border protection – finding refugee boats that have sunk.”

Mr Dingo said it was important to pause for a minute’s silence at the 11th hour, wherever people happened to be on November 11.

Quinns Rocks RSL will host its service at the Quinns Rocks Sports Club on Tapping Way from 10.45am on November 11.

The service will include a Welcome to Country by Geri Hayden, Jon Walley playing the didgeridoo, a Last Post and minute of silence

“It’s important for the younger people to realise that 100 years ago, it was meant to be the war to end all wars, and it wasn’t,” Mr Huseini said.