Chief of Navy's Strategic Adviser on Indigenous Cultural Affairs, Chief Petty Officer Ray Rosendale, said being awarded a Conspicuous Service Medal in the Australia Day Honours List was a great honour and not one he would take lightly.
“Many people work hard in our organisation and they may not receive this type of recognition, but they should know that without their efforts, awards like this would not be possible,” he said.
“It is a matter of fact that we are a team and that team relies on every member to ensure we achieve our mission.”
Chief Petty Officer Rosendale said it was important to note the reasons he was awarded the medal and, in particular, the message to take from it being awarded on Australia Day.
“For some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people Australia Day has not been a day of celebration, instead for them it highlights the terrible history of disenfranchisement and loss suffered by the indigenous community,” he said.
“I understand deeply why people feel this way and recognise that it is a genuine and emotive issue; I think that to be rewarded for my involvement in indigenous affairs on Australia Day is poignant and shows we are growing as a nation.
“Recognising indigenous Australians on our national day is an important step in moving forward and healing the wounds of the past.”
Chief Petty Officer Rosendale said it was important to accept and acknowledge the past, learn from the mistakes and prejudices and change so that the disenfranchisement could be overcome.
“Only by becoming a better country can we ensure our children do not have the same struggles as their parents and grandparents and allow our whole country to move forward to a brighter future,” he said.
Chief Petty Officer Rosendale said he was happy with the way Navy handled matters relating to indigenous culture.
“Navy is at the forefront of change in the forces, we have taken steps to change our culture and help Navy people to make the right choices,” he said.
“This has allowed us to take great steps in achieving the diverse and inclusive Navy we are successfully becoming.
“There is always more to do, but the Navy team is willing to do what we need to reach the goal.”
Chief Petty Officer Rosendale said a high point of the past two years was being tasked by then Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs to set up Bungaree, the Navy Indigenous Performance Group.
“The challenge was to represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Navy cultures together,” he said.
“There are many fantastic dance groups in this country who represent our cultures in an impressive and professional manner.
“Our difference as a group is that we are all members of the Navy.”
Chief Petty Officer Rosendale said the group’s name, Bungaree, honoured a great indigenous leader and explorer of the early colony and reflected Navy's tradition of including indigenous Australia.
“This is not the first time Bungaree has been honoured by Navy,” he said.
“The coastal cargo ship Bungaree was commissioned as HMAS Bungaree, an auxiliary minelayer, during the Second World War.
“Bungaree highlights the relationship between indigenous Australia and Navy and our pride in the diversity and inclusiveness that makes us who we are.”
Chief Petty Officer Rosendale is responsible for advising the Chief of Navy on policies and practices that assist or impede indigenous recruitment and retention in Navy.
This includes assisting in the implementation of whole-of-government policies that affect defence, development and pre-recruitment courses, cultural education training packages, community engagement and increasing the involvement and collaboration between the Navy and indigenous communities.
For meritorious achievement as the Navy Strategic Adviser on Indigenous Cultural Affairs.
Chief Petty Officer Rosendale's dedication to Navy service and indigenous culture has resulted in greater awareness of and pride in indigenous issues in the Navy. His exceptional commitment has led to improved educational packages, greater community engagement, improved indigenous recruitment outcomes, and the successful development of the acclaimed Navy Indigenous Performance Group.