Graham Edwards's story

Graham John Edwards AM was born on 18 July 1946 in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

After school, Graham worked for 5 years as a railway fireman. Inspired by a sense of adventure and the others in his family who had served, he joined the Australian Army in 1968.

In 1970, Graham deployed to South Vietnam. He he served as a machine gunner with an assault pioneer platoon of the 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (7RAR). The unit's role was to seek out and destroy the enemy, while preventing enemy access to the civilian population. The work was demanding and very dangerous.

Graham was warned that the biggest danger would be landmines. In May 1970, while out on patrol, his life changed dramatically when he stepped on a 'jumping jack' mine. He remembered the excruciating pain that came over him as he waited for his mates to clear a path for his rescue. Back home, his wife Noelene received the bad news in a short telegram.

Graham was flown home 3 weeks after both legs were amputated. He was embraced by his loved ones, but went through an emotional and confronting time. He recalled his homecoming as being somewhat underwhelming.

Disappointment and anger intensified when he felt the rehabilitation he was offered was inadequate, incompetent and humiliating. He felt he was considered a problem and that the Army wanted to push him and others like him out of the services to become somebody else's problem.

Graham did not let his disability get the better of him. He met every challenge head on. He educated himself and, driven by veterans' welfare, moved into public affairs and politics.

In 1983, he was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Council. After 14 years in state parliament, he was elected to the federal House of Representatives in the West Australian seat of Cowan in 1998.

In 2005, Graham recalled a visit to the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Canberra:

It was a humbling yet balancing experience particularly when you know that but for the Grace of God and a bit of luck your name could well be up there with the others who lost their lives in that unfortunate war.

[Graham Edwards, quoted in the Fifty Australians exhibition, Australian War Memorial, 19 August to 23 October 2005]

In later life, Graham was a member of the Australian Republican Movement, maintaining a strong and active involvement in defence, disability services and veterans' issues.

In 2012, Graham was made a Member of the Order of Australia for ‘service to the Parliaments of Australia and Western Australia, to veterans through advocacy and support roles, and to people with a disability'.


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Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) ( ), Graham Edwards's story, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 20 June 2024, https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/stories/oral-histories/graham-edwardss-story
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