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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ex-service personnel’s perceptions of racism in the armed forces have varied historically. Some Indigenous exservicemen and women perceived high levels of racial discrimination in the Australian Defence Force and its predecessors, while others suggest that they experienced little if any racial prejudice. Using oral testimonies, this article analyses some of the factors influencing Indigenous perceptions of racism in the military, including: the era of service, nature of employment, branch of service and Indigenous service personnel’s physical appearance. Contrary to popular assumptions about the military being an institution relatively free of racism, the post-Second World War armed forces have reflected civilian Australia’s racial, and sometimes racist, attitudes towards Indigenous people.


School of Arts

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Journal Article

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