This NAIDOC Week (3 – 10 July), Sydneysiders are invited to join iconic Australian charity Sydney Legacy to honour Australia’s Indigenous servicemen and women, whose sacrifices have often been overlooked.

The event will be at the glorious Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park on Thursday 7 July 2022 from 5:00pm – 7:00pm.

Guests are invited to celebrate our Indigenous war heroes, with emphasis on those who defended Australia on the Kokoda Trail during WWII – despite not being counted in our population at the time. In addition to NAIDOC week, July marks the 80th anniversary of when this series of battles began, so it is a timely tribute.

Notable Indigenous speakers will highlight the story behind The Coloured Digger poem; written in tribute to Aboriginal Private Harold West aka ‘The Coloured Digger’ on the Kokoda Trail during WWII, by a non-Indigenous sapper. Warren ‘Pig’ Morgan will perform his musical adaptation, with John Paul Young OAM (‘JPY’) singing lead vocals. You will remember JPY from his famous hit Love is in the Air. They will be joined on harmonica by Mr Les Beckett, nephew of Private West.

Jemma Pigott will also screen her short film The Coloured Digger. She was introduced to the story as a volunteer filmmaker for the Kokoda Aboriginal Servicemen’s Campaign (KASC).

Details of VIP guests who are speaking or performing at the event are outlined below:

Pastor Ray Minniecon:

Pastor Ray is a descendant of the Kabi Kabi and Gurang Gurang nations of South-East Queensland and South Sea Islander people, with connections to Ambrym Island in Vanuatu. He is a community pastor with St. John’s Anglican Church, Glebe and Director of Bunji Consultancies, supporting Aboriginal leadership and business initiatives. He played a key role in establishing Redfern’s Coloured Diggers March.

Warrant Officer Class One Colin Watego OAM: 

WO1 Watego OAM (Col) is a proud Bundjalung and Torres Strait Islander retired veteran who served for 43 years. He enlisted in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in 1974 with his brother, following in the footsteps of many of their relatives. Now retired, Col is the CEO of TRYP Consultancy Pty Ltd. In 2007 he established a youth boot camp program; empowering youth to succeed by exposing them to challenging activities in a controlled environment using a military model.

Les Beckett:

Les was born in 1948, just 6 years after his uncle Private West died in PNG. Private West was the brother of Les’s beloved mother. Les recalls hearing stories about his uncle including references to him as a “Cleverman” with special medicinal knowledge, healing skills and an ability to move faster than others.

Warren ‘Pig’ Morgan: 

Pig is an original band member of the 1960s group The Aztecs, who in 1975 co-founded The All Star Band, which is still the backing band for JPY. Pig is committed to honouring The Coloured Digger poem’s inspiration (Private West) and his fellow Aboriginal digger, Private Leonard – helping arrange a plaque in their hometown of Goodooga.

John Paul Young OAM (JPY):

JPY is one of the most popular Australian artists of the 1970s. His 1978 number 1 song, Love Is in the Air, was an international hit! A remixed version became a hit all over again in 1992 from Baz Luhrmann’s film Strictly Ballroom (celebrating its 30th anniversary this year). JPY was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2009, and in 2012 he received an OAM for services to the music industry and charity. He has sung lead vocals in performances of The Coloured Digger song with Pig since 2018, including in the outback community Private West came from.

LEGACY IN THE PARK EVENT DETAILS:

Venue: Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park, Sydney

Date: Thursday 7 July 2022

Time: 5:00pm – 7:00pm.

Tickets are $55.00 each and include canapés and drinks and are available here.

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Georgia Dawes

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