Catholic Education Office Melbourne celebrates National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week

08 July 2014

2014 NAIDOC Week theme:

Serving Country – Centenary and Beyond



Delsie Lillyst's grandfather Frederick Amos Lovett was one of five Gunditjmara brothers from Victoria’s southwest who enlisted in WWI even though he was not a citizen of this country. He served with the 4th Light Horse in Palestine 

NAIDOC, (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) had its’ beginnings as a day of mourning to protest the status and treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the 1930s. In 1955 the annual Day of Mourning was moved from the first Sunday before Australia Day to the first Sunday in July and its’ focus changed from that of “mourning” to one of celebration.

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme: Serving Country – Centenary and Beyond is to honour the contribution of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women who fought in Australia’s military conflicts and engagements across the globe. David Huggins, Assistant Director with the Student Learning and Family Engagement team led the 4th floor’s 2014 NAIDOC Week celebrations with an acknowledgement of country, followed by Aboriginal education officers who shared their NAIDOC stories with colleagues.

My grandfather Frederick Amos Lovett was one of five Aboriginal brothers from Gunditjmara country in Victoria’s southwest who enlisted in WW1 and fought in various military campaigns such as the Battle of the Somme in France, the Western Front at Passchendaele and Amiens and in the Middle East in Palestine. All five brothers returned from WW1 unharmed, remarkably four of the five brothers re-enlisted in WW2 along with their younger brother Samuel. In all, 21 members of the Lovett family served in the Australian Armed Forces from WW1 to Afghanistan. On the battlefields my grandfather and his brothers fought as equals alongside non-Aboriginal soldiers, sadly this was not the case when they came back home to Gunditjmara country. The Lake Condah Mission that had been their home was closed down by the government and carved up for soldier settlement – my grandfather, his brothers and other Aboriginal soldiers who fought for Australia was to be denied this privilege.

“Nigel Steel, a historian at the Imperial War Museum in London, once stated that he knew of no other record of military service by a single family that matched that of the Lovett family. Fittingly, the building that contains the Department of Veteran's Affairs in Canberra was renamed Lovett Tower in honour of their distinguished military contribution.”


My younger brother Ricky is the latest member of the Lovett family to serve in Australia’s armed forces. His unit was the 17th Construction Squadron, Royal Australian Engineers and was part of the INTERFET Peacekeepers in East Timor. He then went on to complete 2 tours of duty in Afghanistan.

Delsie Lillyst, Aboriginal Education Officer, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education


The Bombing of Darwin dance by the Tiwi Islanders

Helen people, the Tiwi Islanders, performed a dance that commemorates the 1942 bombing of Darwin. As the first people to see the enemy planes, they tried to warn Darwin by radio, but were ignored. This dance has been performed both on the national and international arena.

Helen Christensen, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Education Officer


For more information on NAIDOC week please visit the NAIDOC website: