Soldiers Embrace Indigenous Culture
The ceremony included a ‘Welcome to Country’ from local Aboriginal elder Uncle Alex Davidson, a smoking ceremony purification ritual, an Aboriginal dance, didgeridoo performance and a flag-raising ceremony for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags.
The flags flew at the unit for the duration of NAIDOC week.
Formation Indigenous Liaison Officer Capt Rowan Larkin said it was important the ADF celebrated NAIDOC Week.
“NAIDOC week acknowledges the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia,” he said.
“This year’s theme, ‘Serving Country: Centenary and Beyond’, acknowledges the achievements of past and present indigenous Defence members.”
During the ceremony, Mr Davidson shared his memories of relatives who had served in the ADF during times of conflict.
He spoke of the hardships that indigenous people faced in those times and how joining the Army was an opportunity for them to experience better social conditions.
He also praised Army for its practical approach to reconciliation and opportunities for indigenous people.
Capt Larkin said Mr Davidson was extremely impressed with the enthusiasm of ADF members in celebrating NAIDOC Week.
“This was the first NAIDOC ceremony for HQ 16 Avn Bde and I don’t see it being the last,” he said.
“It was great to see NAIDOC Week being driven from the top which, of course, made my job a lot easier.
“Everyone was eager to help and, as a result, it produced a great ceremony of which the unit could be proud.”
Capt Larkin said a lot of community engagement was required to organise the event, particularly to find an Aboriginal elder who was able to attend.
“Brisbane is a great city to celebrate NAIDOC Week because of the large number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations,” he said.
“I was able to get in touch with Kurbingui, a north Brisbane-based Aboriginal Community Centre.
“When I told them we were organising a NAIDOC ceremony they were very keen to get on board and put me in touch with the relevant people.”