Navy, Army and Air Force personnel were in attendance at the 20th Garma Festival in Gulkula, north-east Arnhem Land, Northern Territory earlier this month.
More than 450 Navy members identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Members of Navy’s contribution to the delegation travelled to Arnhem Land to celebrate, learn and explore issues relevant to Indigenous Australia.
Captain Phil Henry, Director Navy People Policy and Governance attended the festival and noted the strong connection the ADF has maintained with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people over the years.
“We have thousands of indigenous people serving in the ADF across dozens of sites where the traditional owners of the land are acknowledged at every one of those sites.
“The contribution of Indigenous Australia to the ADF has been important for more than 100 years,” said Captain Henry.
“In Navy, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have long made a significant contribution to our efforts at sea and we continue to develop the next generation of indigenous sailors through programs like our Navy Indigenous Development Program that gives new indigenous recruits a six-month head start into a career with Navy.
“Participation in the Garma festival was important as a recognition of the ADF’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous People and their importance to the ADF and its history,” Captain Henry said.
For Able Seaman Sami Reddy, a Marine Technician based at HMAS Coonawarra, the Festival was “a big ten days,” but he said he would definitely go again if he was given the opportunity. The highlight for him was the engagement with indigenous youth.
“The festival had heaps of music and cultural activities but as you can see from the photos of some of these kids they had a great time and our engagement with them was the highlight of the festival,” said AB Reddy.