Aboriginal war feat recognised

April 04, 2018

Mural painter Cam Scale with Greater Shepparton City Council mayor Kim O'Keeffe, Alf Turner, Leonie Drummond and Bobby Nicholls.

A mural of Yorta Yorta man Private Daniel Cooper will soon adorn an exterior wall of Eastbank Centre in recognition of the local Aboriginal people who represented Australia in war.

The mural is the next to be painted around town as part of Greater Shepparton City Council’s Aboriginal Street Art Project.

Melbourne fine artist and mural painter Cam Scale yesterday began painting the mural, which is expected to be finished on Sunday.

‘‘It is always an honour to paint something with such meaning and history and I’d like to represent the Cooper family,’’ he said.

‘‘The mural will be using tones of the building and having shades of light and dark coming out of it.’’

The Aboriginal Street Art Project is aimed at celebrating and recognising the Aboriginal history and culture within the region.

Pte Cooper fought for Australia during World War I before dying on a European battlefield in 1917, aged 21.

He was the son of Yorta Yorta man Uncle William Cooper, who was recognised during stage one of the Aboriginal Street Art Project, featuring on the Goulburn Valley Water wall alongside Sir Douglas Nicholls.

Pte Cooper’s nephew Alf Turner said his uncle was a courageous Yorta Yorta man who risked his life.

‘‘He never returned to the country he defended so bravely,’’ Mr Turner said.

‘‘Many other local Aboriginal people fought and I am glad they are finally being recognised for their courage.’’

Greater Shepparton City Council is driving the project alongside the Shepparton RSL, Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation and Rumbalara Co-operative.

The mural will be painted beneath the Aboriginal and Australian flag, with the wall lit in red during April in remembrance and acknowledgement of all local Aboriginal people who served in wars.

A dedicated service will be held at the mural on May 27 to pay tribute to those involved.

Mayor Kim O’Keeffe was pleased to see local organisations working together on the initiative.

‘‘This incredibly important initiative acknowledges local Aboriginal people for their efforts in war, particularly at a time when racism was restricting brave Aboriginal people from representing their own country,’’ she said.

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