Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation
Advisory warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons are advised that this webpage and material presentation contains images of deceased persons.
Indigenous Australians who served in the First World War are among the unsung heroes of Queensland's, and indeed Australia's, war effort. The Defence Act (1909) excluded those who were not of 'substantially European origin or descent', but despite this, between 1,250 and 1,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women successfully volunteered for the AIF. Approximately 300 were from Queensland.
Like much of Australia during the war years, Queensland was a divided society. Debates about conscription, the changing role of women and the growing number of broken families characterised a society that was struggling to cope with rapid systemic change. While their loved ones fought in faraway lands, at home in Queensland and elsewhere, wives, mothers and girlfriends dealt with the consequences of war. With creativity and resourcefulness, they managed family responsibilities alone, coped with resource shortages, and contributed in whatever way they could. Some enlisted in the Australian Army Nursing Service and saw active service overseas. Others threw themselves into fundraising activities, volunteered to care for wounded soldiers, or protested for peace. All lived in anxious anticipation of their loved ones’ return, facing their fears and the trauma of loss.
History and commemoration
Discover State Library’s vast WWI resources, organised for easy access. Experience energetic, stimulating video teacher professional development. Be inspired and supported by a comprehensive learning kit that sparks the imaginations of your students. Hear the dramatised podcast series, My Father’s Wars. Find a soldier portrait, learn the origins of Anzac Day, or explore Granite Belt place names that commemorate Queenslanders’ wartime participation.
Find additional external resource links to support your teaching and exploration of World War I.
Find and map local solider histories on History Pin
Borrow physical WWI kits from Queensland Museum
Give students an interactive conscription debate with iBook
Discover diverse records on the Discovering Anzacs website, including extensive video and image content