Australia - Serving Country Exhibition

Serving Country exhibition flies the flag for 124 years of Indigenous service in Australia’s defence forces.

More than a century of proud service by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia’s armed forces will be celebrated in an open air photographic exhibition, Serving Country, across Pyrmont Bridge and Cockle Bay Wharf from November 5-19. The exhibition will feature 99 portraits of current and past serving Indigenous members of the Australian Defence Forces reproduced on 4.5 metre high flags.

Veolia ANZ CEO Dr Richard Kirkman said the company had organised this exhibition to acknowledge the mighty contribution Indigenous veterans and current servicemen and servicewomen have made to Australia, side-by-side with non-Indigenous personnel.

“The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women pictured on these flags showed an extraordinary act of selflessness to fight in the armed forces of this nation," Dr Kirkman said.

”They have served in the Australian armed forces since the Boer War in 1899, and have a long and proud history that has seen them take part in every major war and peacekeeping effort since then.”

One of those featured in the Serving Country exhibition is Indigenous Elder for the Australian Army Aunty Lorraine Hatton OAM, who served in the armed forces for 21 years. Even after retiring from the Army in 2007, she has continued to play a major role assisting and highlighting the work of veterans.

Aunty Lorraine has described her time in the armed forces as “an honour and a privilege”, saying the journey was long and challenging but that she was proud of what she had accomplished. She said the  Serving Country exhibition brought to life for every Australian the quiet and powerful role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have had in keeping our country safe.

“Our rich and diverse military history has many stories, and the inspirational Serving Country exhibition shares our proud legacy through the generations within our Australian military family,” Aunty Lorraine said.

Serving Country was created by multi-award winning human rights social documentarian Belinda Mason OAM. The first Serving Country exhibition in 2014 was made up of 20 portraits of veterans that attended the Coloured Diggers March in Redfern. Since that time, working with filmmaker Dieter Knierim, Belinda has added 300 photos of indigenous servicemen and servicewomen, capturing their images and stories. These will soon be published in a book.

“I have always been struck by the pride that emanates from the subjects I have photographed for this exhibition. Every portrait exudes resilience and strength of purpose. The many journeys they took to achieve their place in our defence forces are often very different compared to those non-indigenous service personnel but once they join, a bond exists right across the Australian Defence Forces. As Torres Strait Islander Veteran Monty Naawi says in his quote for the exhibition, ‘Joining the Army made me to understand (sic) that regardless of race, mateship comes first by embracing and upholding one another as brothers in arms.’” said Belinda.

A special launch will be held on November 10, the day before Remembrance Day, where we will come together as one ― Indigenous and non-Indigenous ― to pay homage to First Nations veterans, servicemen and servicewomen.

You can find images and biographies of the Serving Country exhibition online, here. 
Interviews can be arranged on request with:

Veolia ANZ CEO Dr Richard Kirkman
Social documentarian Belinda Mason OAM
Indigenous Elder for the Australian Army Aunty Lorraine Hatton OAM
Inaugural Elder of the Australian Air Force Uncle Harry Allie

Further Reading

Indigenous mofti pattern artwork for indigenous careers header

Veolia's Reconciliation Action Plan 


Valeria Cheglov, Head of Communications and Public Policy | +61 0438 494 351| [email protected]

Veolia ANZ is committed to walking alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to connect, learn, and create sustainable opportunities in the communities in which we live and operate. Veolia ANZ released its first Reconciliation Action Plan in 2014. Our vision for Reconciliation is informed by worldwide frameworks, the Group’s global strategy and our Company Purpose, and is aligned with Reconciliation Australia’s pillars, the Closing the Gap targets and achieving sustainable outcomes, economically, socially, and environmentally for, and with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Veolia Group aims to become the benchmark company for ecological transformation. Present on five continents with nearly 220,000 employees, the Group designs and deploys useful, practical solutions for the management of water, waste and energy that are contributing to a radical turnaround of the current situation. Through its three complementary activities, Veolia helps to develop access to resources, to preserve available resources and to renew them. In 2022, the Veolia group provided 111 million inhabitants with drinking water and 97 million with sanitation, produced nearly 44 million megawatt hours and recovered 61 million tonnes of waste. Veolia Environment (Paris Euronext: VIE) achieved consolidated revenue of 42.885 billion euros in 2022.