Eighteenth of November will go down in history as a proud day for Indian Community, it was on this day that the Unveiling and Dedication of War memorial to Australians of Indian Heritage took place. The monument sits next to the memorial to Australians of Chinese Heritage at Sunnybank Sub Branch RSL, Gager Street, Sunnybank.
VIP guests included, Major General Paul McLachlan, AM, CSC the High Commissioner for India, His Excellency, Dr A.M. Gondane, the High Commissioner for Fiji, His Excellency, Mr Yogesh Punja, the Federal Member for Bonner Mr Ross Vasta MP, representing the Federal Government, Members of the State Parliament and Brisbane City Councillors.
Mr Surendra Prasad OAM chairperson of AIHWMC said that the idea came about from a newspaper article that stated the contribution of Australians of Indian Heritage involved in World War that had gone unrecognised. In 2015 a committee named the Australians of Indian Heritage War Memorial Committee (AIHWMC) was formed and they have been meeting at least once a month to plan the building of this monument.
Mr Prasad said “The estimated cost to build our monument was in excess of $30,000 and we raised funds through various sources. An amount of $15,000 was raised from the first fundraising dinner on 28th May 2016. After lobbying with the Federal Government and with the help of Mr Nick Monsour and Mr Ross Vasta MP Federal Member for Bonner, a financial commitment of $30,000 was obtained from the Federal Government. We sincerely thank the Government for their kind contribution in terms of funding towards the memorial and we thank Mr Nic Monsour for his efforts in obtaining this grant.”
Griffith University, Gold Coast, was requested to design the memorial. Dr Ruwan Fernando from the Griffith University School of Architecture was directly involved in the creation of the memorial. He ran a class as a four-week project with the first year students. A group of 90 students participated in the preliminary design competition. The focus for their mode of design was a model building and three-dimensional design. The students were encouraged to research cultural aspects, including art and customs and incorporate this into their interpretation of a memorial. Eleven were selected as finalists to develop the design further. A panel of five judges was appointed to evaluate the design entries. At a gala dinner on 12, November, 2016, the winning design of Bianca Archer was announced.
Mr Prasad thanked RSL Sunnybank President, Hugh Polson, Vice President, Harry Claassen, the committee and Sub-branch members for their kind support. And he acknowledged Capt Chetan Chandegave, Defence adviser to Australia – Indian High Commission for his support.
In conclusion Mr. Prasad said “In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that this monument will be the first step towards creating a shared public memorial. This monument will serve as a reminder and tribute to all Australians of Indian Heritage who served in our armed forces. It will be the first in Queensland and should be a place you can be proud to take your visitors and family to show them the contribution and sacrifices made in the wars. You all are part of this memorial and we need your continuing support.
After 100 years, this day will be remembered in Queensland’s history, as the day soldiers of Indian Heritage were finally acknowledged”.