Navy breaks fast to celebrate diversity

This article has photo gallery Published on Mr Pup Elliott (author), POIS Phil Cullinan (photographer)

Location(s): Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

(L-R) unnamed, Mr Samir Bennegadi, the Hon Dr Brendon Nelson, MBBS, MRACGP, FRACP (Hon.), FAMA, Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, Assistant Minister for Defence The Hon Stuart Robert, MP, Captain Mona Shindy, CSC, RAN, and Warrant Officer of the Navy Warrant Officer Martin Holzberger at the Australian War Memorial for the Royal Australian Navy inaugural Ramadan Iftar dinner. (photo: POIS Phil Cullinan)
(L-R) unnamed, Mr Samir Bennegadi, the Hon Dr Brendon Nelson, MBBS, MRACGP, FRACP (Hon.), FAMA, Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, Assistant Minister for Defence The Hon Stuart Robert, MP, Captain Mona Shindy, CSC, RAN, and Warrant Officer of the Navy Warrant Officer Martin Holzberger at the Australian War Memorial for the Royal Australian Navy inaugural Ramadan Iftar dinner.

Navy has marked the month of Ramadan with a special dinner in Canberra attended by the Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed.

Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett hosted the inaugural 'iftar' dinner with serving sailors and officers at the Australian War Memorial on 23 June.

Navy is committed to cultural diversity and inclusion due to the capability enhancement that they bring, and guests included the Assistant Minister for Defence, and Director of the Australian War Memorial, plus many ambassadors from predominantly Muslim nations. 

Guests were welcomed initially to the Last Post Ceremony at the Memorial, during which Chief Petty Officer Zul Naim spoke of Muslim Lance Sergeant Bin Shalid Ma'Aruff, who was killed in action in Borneo in 1945. Lance Sergeant Ma’Aruff was operating with the Army’s Z Special Force and was a courageous volunteer for hazardous duty as a commando operating behind enemy lines. 

Chief of Navy’s Strategic Advisor on Islamic Cultural Affairs, Captain Mona Shindy, gave the opening address at the dinner, and spoke about the significant range of initiatives that Navy has lead over the last two years in the areas of inclusion and diversity. 

In particular, cultural awareness education sessions have been developed for serving members and there has been improved community engagement through outreach and youth leadership, development and mentoring programs.

Navy has also increased dialogue and interaction with Islamic community leaders to markedly increase opportunities for further understanding and respect.

Vice Admiral Barrett said it was an opportunity for serving members and Muslim leaders discuss and exchange ideas.

“We need to establish an integrated, diverse and resilient workforce to meet our future challenges," he said.

"Through Plan Pelorus, Navy's plan to 2018, and existing cultural change initiatives we have identified the values and behaviours that are required of all Navy people. 

"It is about modernisation of our culture, our structures and the way we lead, and how we enable our people to be creative and to innovate," Vice Admiral Barrett said.

Iftar is the evening meal during which Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast, the dinner is expected to become an annual event.