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Scullion honours Indigenous diggers

AAP logoAAP 11/11/2016 Lucy Hughes Jones

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has paid tribute to Aboriginal diggers who gave their lives for their country in overseas wars, despite not having the right to vote at home.

Australians have gathered at Remembrance Day services across the country to mark the moment the guns fell silent across the Western Front at the end of WWI, 98 years ago.

Around 1000 Indigenous servicemen and women fought for Australia in that war, and some were at Gallipoli.

"They served their country, despite not having the right to vote," Mr Scullion said.

"We are also saddened by the stories of the treatment received by those who returned."

It's estimated 20 per cent of the Northern Territory's Indigenous population joined the army effort during WWII.

"Many left family and community to serve overseas, some travelling vast distances for the chance to enlist," the Northern Territory senator said.

A 50-strong reconnaissance force of Yolngu men also patrolled Australia's northern coastline using their intimate knowledge of country to protect against invasion.

"These men were the first line of defence against an invasion that, at the time, seemed inevitable," he said.

When among their fellow soldiers, these Aboriginal people felt equal and accepted, Mr Scullion said.

"They experienced the mateship and camaraderie on the battlefield," he said.

Aboriginal troops have served with British and Australian forces throughout the past 110 years --from the Boer War onwards -- and continue to serve today.

"We are only just beginning to recognise the sheer numbers of Indigenous people who served," he said.

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