2007-2023: Sweet 16 for our charity and a march for the Indigenous veteran community

06 Jul 2023

By Jemma Pigott, NSW / ACT State Manager

2023 marks 16 years since filming began on Baz Lurhmann’s World War Two epic Australia. In addition to bringing an Australian war story with Indigenous characters to the screen, 2007 saw the birth of two Australian veteran causes: Wounded Heroes Australia (WHA) (named for the veterans in crisis we assist) and The Coloured Diggers March in Redfern, Sydney (named after a poetic tribute written on the Kokoda Track to Aboriginal Servicemen).

Our origin stories both concern remarkable people supporting historically overlooked veterans and their families.

Many Indigenous people who served in the first half of the 20th century did not receive the same benefits or recognition as non-Indigenous servicemen. Now, on every Anzac Day since 2007, The Coloured Diggers March welcomes all to honour historically overlooked Indigenous servicemen and women.

Another veteran demographic previously overlooked are those grappling with Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and crises after active service. Before PTSD was defined, suffering veterans were not adequately supported; facing exclusion and stigma. This inevitably led to hardship in civilian life. Vietnam veterans with PTSD symptoms were the first veterans to have the term applied, as it was officially recognised as a mental health condition in 1980 – five years after the Vietnam War ended. 

During that conflict, the founder of WHA, Jim Shapcott served as a reservist – commissioned in 1966 and retiring in 1973 as a Captain. He loved Army life, but decided to leave and start an advertising agency. His spirit of service remained. In 2007 he founded WHA as the “Deployed Soldiers Welfare Association”, changing the name to broaden public appeal. Since then, WHA has supported many veterans in crisis, including those with PTSD. 

WHA is proud to support the veteran community and would like to promote Redfern’s Coloured Diggers March which shares our 2007 inception. 

The poem which inspired this inclusive community event was written in tribute to Aboriginal Private Harold West. He volunteered to fight for Australia during WW2 and died defending us from invasion, despite being denied basic rights of citizenship (Indigenous people were not counted in the population until after 1967). 

The poem’s author was non-Indigenous Sapper Bert Beros. He served with Private West on the Kokoda Track and was determined to honour his legacy.

Aboriginal Pastor Ray Minniecon was instrumental establishing the march in 2007, assisted by his friend, Warren ‘Pig’ Morgan. Warren musically adapted Beros’ poem and has performed it at various events. His mate John Paul Young OAM sings lead vocals and Private West’s nephew Les Beckett plays harmonica. Catch them performing live at this years’ Coloured Diggers March in Redfern. Details:

  • 12pm: Film screening of BLACK ANZAC at the Redfern Community Centre, Sydney
  • 1:30pm: Welcome Ceremony at the Redfern Community Centre, Sydney
  • 2:30pm: march commences via Lawson St, crossing Regent St, down Redfern Street to Redfern Park, stopping at the cenotaph.
  • Performers include John Paul Young OAM, Haka for Life, The Glen Dancers and more!


For information on how to volunteer, sponsor or have your stall at this free community event, contact Ken Zulumovski 

Ken is a KubbiKubbi first nations descendent and former soldier of the Royal Australian Army. He is the Founder and Managing Director at Gamarada Universal Indigenous Resources Pty Ltd who oversees The Coloured Digger Event and ANZAC Day March, programs and activities.

To learn how you can further support WHA contact our general enquiries number on 1300 853 080 or email us at