Honouring Indigenous War Graves Inc.
Honouring Indigenous War Veterans
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What does Honouring Indigenous War Graves Inc. do and why was it established?

The organisation was established for the purposes of acknowledging the services of our Indigenous Veterans throughout Australia, who were not appropriately recognised upon their return from conflict, or for services provided for Australia and the peoples of Australia.

How long has H.I.W.G. Inc. been in operation?

Honouring Indigenous War Graves Incorporated was established as a "non-profit organisation" in June 2005 in Perth, Western Australia by John Schnaars (Indigenous Vietnam Veteran) a number of loyal members from the Bruce Rock Vietnam Veteran's Group and many other "behind the scenes" supporters and volunteers.

What is the Organisation's objective?

H.I.W.G. Inc. hopes to recognise as many of our passed Indigenous Servicemen and Service-women as possible throughout Western Australia.

Why are the services of Honouring Indigenous War Graves so important to the Indigenous Community?

Many of our indigenous families have loved ones who participated in various conflicts who have now died, without ever having their efforts for the country acknowledged or commemorated.  It is important to the elders of our indigenous communites and for the younger generations, to learn the the truth about their family connections and involvement in the protection of our country.

What is a Headstone Ceremony and what does it involve?

A Headstone Ceremony involves the coming together of many people from the general and veteran communities to reflect upon the efforts made by our Indigenous Veterans. The most important objective of H.I.W.G. is to provide an opportunity for family members of passed veterans to be able to particpate in a long awaited ceremony honouring their loved ones participation during times of war and battle.

The fundamental part of the ceremony is the placement of an "appropriate" headstone on the gravesite of the deceased veteran.  It is an unfortunate fact that many of our Indigenous Veterans lie in "unmarked" graves across the country with no mention of the efforts made by them on behalf of all Australians in the past, and for the benefit of Australians in the future.  We hope to rectify this by providing a headstone and/or permission to attach the emblem of the "rising sun" as a distinct show of respect from all Australians.

How do we decide eligibility for a Headstone Ceremony?

The Australian War Graves Commission has a register of all indigenous and non-indigenous servicemen and women eligible for a "War Grave" and the provision of either a "plaque" for an established gravesite, or a "War Grave" in it's entirety.

After establising whether there are in fact records associated with our Indigenous Veterans, we then arrange for the War Graves artefacts to be used in conjunction with a Headstone Ceremony, or arrange for our own stonemason to create a headstone with an inscription describing the veteran's service details as established through the verbal history of our indigenous families and communities.

It must be noted that many of our Indigenous Veterans were not "legitimately recognised" as indigenous by the Australian Defence Forces at the time of their participation, due to a number of "social factors" inhibiting disclosure of their familial origins. 

Community Support

We now have the support of many people within the Australian Defence Forces (Army, Navy & Air Force) who play varying roles within the ceremony itself.  Their participation in these ceremonies provides the families with a sense of pride in the acknowledgement that their family members have indeed played a pivotal role in the ongoing defence of Australia, and that their contributions are highly regard and respected by all within the Australian Defence Forces and various Government organisations throughout the country.

What happens at a Headstone Ceremony?

The ceremony itself comprises a number of rituals accepted and agreed upon by the families and friends of our Indigenous Veterans.  These include a "traditional welcome to country" by one of our elders, the presentation of a catafalque party to "watch over" the proceedings, the inclusion of the "Lord's Prayer" by our Salvation Army officers or family delegated pastor/minister, an opportunity for family members, friends or guest speakers to "offer a few words" about the veteran and/or proceedings, the reading of "the Ode" by a member of the veteran community, the playing of "the veteran's favourite songs", a "moment of reflection" where family, friends and guests lay down wreaths and flowers at the gravesite, the playing of "Reveille" and/or the "Last Post" by bugler or bagpipe player, a "smoking ceremomy" to protect all who attend, and a presentation of a CD and flag to family members to remember this event by.

How do I become a Member of Honouring Indigenous War Graves Inc.?

Send us your request and contact details via our "Contact Details" page on this website.

What happens to the information provided on my Membership Application?

The information provided on our Membership form is only for the purposes of recording your details as a Member of Honouring Indigenous War Graves Inc. and/or forwarding H.I.W.G. Inc. related material to you.  Your information will not be passed on to anyone outside H.I.W.G. Inc. unless requested by you in writing to Honouring Indigenous War Graves Incorporated.




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