Recently, in honour of NAIDOC Week, HMAS Stirling and Defence Force Recruiting (DFR) personnel from Perth attended events around the greater Perth area.
At the start of the week Stirling held a Ceremonial Colours ceremony to honour this year’s theme, 'Serving Country: Centenary and Beyond'. Sailors from the establishment raised the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flag at the ceremony.
Stirling's Commanding Officer, Captain Angela Bond, said the stormy skies and shadowed sun provided a haunting backdrop for the ceremony.
“We have a number of serving Indigenous sailors based at Stirling so I see it as a great opportunity to honour their service as well as those who have gone before them,” Captain Bond said.
“HMAS Stirling encompasses people of many cultures and this ceremony has provided the opportunity to honour the oldest Australians who do, and have served in the past - our Indigenous personnel.”
Petty Officer Sam Sheppard, of DFR Perth was himself honoured to attend the opening ceremony in Armadale, Western Australia.
“I feel very honoured to tie all of my cultural influences together; my Aboriginal and Navy culture,” Petty Officer Sheppard said.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have served their country in war for over 100 years.
“Today with Australia’s recognition through the theme of this years’ NAIDOC and through the culture of Defence we are really starting to recognise the commitment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who are serving and those who have served in the past,” Petty Officer Sheppard said.
As the Indigenous Recruitment Officer in Western Australia it is his job to inform fellow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders about careers in Defence.
“I have served for fifteen years in the Navy but my role in recruiting has definitely been the highlight of my career, it’s not just a job I tell them about; it’s a lifestyle,” Petty Officer Sheppard said.
NAIDOC is an Australian observance lasting from the first Sunday in July until the following Sunday to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Indigenous Australian Defence Force members have served the nation since the Boer War and it is appropriate their contributions are formally recognised. NAIDOC Week is a time for Defence to acknowledge its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian Defence Force members and Australian Public Service employees and the contribution they make to our country.