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South Sea Islanders raise the flag on recognition milestone

RECOGNITION: President of Rockhampton Australian South Sea Islander Committee Roslyn Wallace, was at a flag-raising ceremony yesterday to celebrate the 20 years that South Sea Islanders have been recognised under the Commonwealth Government.
RECOGNITION: President of Rockhampton Australian South Sea Islander Committee Roslyn Wallace, was at a flag-raising ceremony yesterday to celebrate the 20 years that South Sea Islanders have been recognised under the Commonwealth Government. LISA BENOIT Rokcelebrate

"TWENTY years ago we became somebody."

It was only two decades ago that South Sea Islanders were recognised under the Commonwealth Government and that is a big milestone which was celebrated yesterday.

The South Sea Islander community celebrated their 20 years of recognition with a flag-raising ceremony at Rockhampton Town Hall.

Roslyn Wallace, who is of the South Sea Islander community, said that people need to recognise who they were and where they had come from.

Roslyn, who is also the president of Rockhampton Australian South Sea Islander Committee, said that a lot of people still didn't understand who the South Sea Islanders were.

"(South Sea Islanders) were forced to Australia; abducted from the islands in the 1860s," Roslyn said.

"It was mainly boys and men from nine years old to 30 years old; they were made to work on the sugar cane fields.

"A lot of our people didn't return to the islands, when they were taken back by ship they were thrown overboard.

"So much blood lays unspoken."

Roslyn said that there was a big South Sea Islander community in Rockhampton and that their initiative was to make people aware of who they were and their heritage.

Topics:  south sea islander



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