Indigenous performers take centre stage at Sydney Opera House

Published on SBLT Bianca Wise (author), LSIS Dove Smithett (photographer)

Location(s): Sydney Opera House

Topic(s): International Fleet Review

Navy's Indigenous Performance Group perform at the Chief of Navy's reception for the International Fleet Review 2013 held at Sydney Opera House.  (photo: ABIS Dove Smithett)
Navy's Indigenous Performance Group perform at the Chief of Navy's reception for the International Fleet Review 2013 held at Sydney Opera House.

The Royal Australian Navy’s Indigenous Performance Group conducted their first official performance at the Sydney Opera House last night during the Chief of Navy’s reception.

Twenty current serving Navy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from around Australia came together to share their culture in one of the highlights of the International Fleet Review.

The traditional dance was performed before an audience that included the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, and Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs AO, CSC, RAN.

As the leader of the Navy’s Indigenous initiatives Vice Admiral Griggs is a strong advocate for cultural inclusiveness and diversity within the Navy.

“I saw the need for us to celebrate the indigenous contribution to the navy over the last 100 years and develop an enduring vehicle for our proud indigenous sailors to express their cultural and naval identity. This was one of the drivers behind the development of the performance group,” said Vice-Admiral Griggs.

“This is their world premiere, and they are just as proud of their ancestry and culture as being in the Navy.”

The performance marked a significant achievement for the Chief of Navy’s Indigenous Advisor, Chief Petty Officer Ray Rosendale.

“This experience is not only significant within the Navy, but it alters the perception of Indigenous opportunities across the Nation,” said CPO Rosendale.

“Our sailors are proud serving members who were honoured to have this opportunity to perform during Navy’s 100 year commemoration.”

Following an emotionally charged and very special cultural tribute all members marched to the RAN Band as they played Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton’s song I am Australian.

The performance was well received by visiting Chiefs of Navies, who are in Sydney to participate in the International Fleet Review.

A public performance was conducted today to a sold out crowd during the Warship Open Day at Garden Island.