Jan ‘Kabarli’ James Aboriginal soldiers of Western Australia.

National Library Trove  http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/37567943?versionId=49039304


Jan ‘Kabarli’ James’ book  Forever Warriors  published in 2011 contains names, biographical information and in most cases photographs  of Western Australian Indigenous servicemen from all conflicts. It is a comprehensive statement based on over 30 years of genealogical research into the Aboriginal people of Western Australia. Although initially unaware of Indigenous war service it was during the course of her research that Jan realised that Aboriginal men – and women had also served their country.

When I went through the births, deaths and marriages, I saw that on the birth certificates of children their fathers were listed as soldiers. No-one told me; I never knew that Aboriginal people had served. A lot were killed; they were not allowed to be members of the RSL and they couldn’t buy a beer in the pub when they returned.

Aboriginal mothers had their sons fighting, too. So I set out to do it [collate the soldiers’ information] and it is the thing I am most proud of. For 10 years I worked all day every day. I travelled and went to all sorts of places.                                                                                                                                                          Interview with Carli Allen, Avon Valley Gazette 2 April 2011.


In 2005 Jan’s Collection was acquired by the State Government of Western Australia. Known as the Jan Goodacre Collection it has been described as ‘the single most significant private collection of Aboriginal records and photographs in the nation.’  The collection consists of genealogies of 20,000 Western Australian Aboriginal families and includes 7,500 photos of individuals mostly from government records and Police Gazettes but some sourced from individuals and families. Jan’s use of records and family contacts to locate Aboriginal servicemen underlines the close connection between service records and family history.


Philippa Scarlett 1 January 2013

About Indigenous Histories

Author & Publisher of Australian history, art and culture.
This entry was posted in WW1, WW2. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Heather Young says:

    Hi All Just to let everyone that I am reprinting Mums book

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