Last month, ANZAC Day celebrations across the country remembered those who sacrificed their lives in Australia’s many military conflicts. Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander soldiers stood and died in combat alongside their white comrades, they were not given land after the war like white service people were. Along with the trauma of war, they were denied reparations and treated as second-class citizens.
In March 2015, an artwork called YININMADYEMI Thou didst let fall by Girramay artist Tony Albert was installed in Hyde Park. It has four standing bullets and three fallen shells at the centre of a boomerang. Guided by the Babana Aboriginal Men’s Group Coloured Diggers project, the artwork honours Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women who served their country.
Tony Albert’s family has over 80 years combined military service. So for this major work, the artist drew upon his grandfather’s military story and research by family historian Trisha Albert.
Tony’s grandfather Eddie Albert enlisted and served in the Australian Army during WWII. As an escaped Prisoner of War in 1944, Eddie Albert was part of a group of 7 travelling in Italy. The group was captured, and 3 shot – these men are represented by the fallen shells. Eddie was 1 of the 4 who were not killed.
Today, YININMADYEMI Thou didst let fall stands as a powerful reminder of the sacrifices Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander diggers made for Australia. It’s part of the City of Sydney’s Eora Journey.