Such was life: Jim Joseph

The medals on display in the Museum of Geraldton of WW2 veteran Jim Joseph lead us into the story of the thousands of indigenous men and women who volunteered to serve in Australia’s armed forces - and how they were treated when they came home from the wa
Written by
Paul Barron

Jim Joseph was a Wadjarrie man from Mullewa. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were not included in the Australian census, nor allowed to vote, until the 1960s. Yet Jim, and thousands of other indigenous men and women, volunteered to serve in the Australian armed forces. However when they returned to Australia white soldiers received compensation from a grateful nation including land grants and spousal pensions. But most indigenous soldiers received nothing, They were simply sent back to the towns or missions from where they came. It would be at least 40 years before many of these indigenous soldiers would receive the benefits, and even wages, owed to them. The film includes illuminating interviews with Jim’s grandson Jamie Joseph and Amangu Yamaji Elder Graham Taylor while researcher Flora Harpley Green uncovered a map showing the large areas of Perth from which aborigines were excluded by law until 1954 as well as footage from a 1941 newsreel featuring aboriginal soldiers that has to be seen to be believed.

Paul Barron

Paul's producer credits range from award-winning feature films such as Shame to the popular children’s/family TV series Ship to Shore and the international co-production Kings in Grass Castles. As a writer he created the series Serangoon Road, Stormworld, Parallax, End of Empire, Turning Point and Wild Kat. He loves history and describes Such Was Life as his “passion project.”