HMAS Harman held a small but important NAIDOC Week ceremony yesterday to unveil an ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ plaque, recognising the Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander service men and women who have contributed to the defence of Australia.
‘Acknowledgement of Country’ is an important formality in a reconciled Australia. It provides Australians from a wide range of organisations with the opportunity to acknowledge Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people as Traditional Custodians of the land and to pay their respects.
For the Australian Defence Force, the plaques at each Shore Establishment or base acknowledge that there were traditional custodians of the land, for which stewardship of has now has passed to Navy, Army and Air Force.
The ceremony was attended by Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, Australian Defence Force Indigenous Affairs personnel, Harman’s Command team and a range of Canberra-based Defence and Public Service personnel.
Chief of Navy, along with Harman’s Buffer Petty Officer Kevin West, unveiled the plaque together at the entrance to HMAS Harman where it may be seen by all visitors and passers by.
Harman’s Warrant Officer, Graeme Gibney, proudly volunteered to organise the event and provided a moving speech to all in attendance.
“It is a great opportunity to be part of an event that not only recognises the traditional custodians of the land on which Harman is situated, but also the contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have formally and informally served, as well as those who continue to serve in defence of our great nation.
“I believe the poster for this year’s NAIDOC Week theme of ‘Serving Country - Centenary and Beyond’ displaying the three brothers in their respective uniforms and their elders reflected in the water in front of them, indicates that you can proudly serve your country whilst maintaining and embracing your cultural heritage.
“Our heritage is a part of who we are, and when embraced it can empower each of us to reach our full potential and be the best we can be,” Warrant Officer Gibney said.
This year’s NAIDOC Week is being celebrated by Indigenous communities, Australians from all walks of life and proud members of the Australian Defence Force from 6-13 July.
An ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ plaque has been unveiled at HMAS Cairns, and now Harman, and this month will also be unveiled at HMAS Stirling and HMAS Cerberus. The remaining Royal Australian Navy Shore Establishments will follow later this year.
Defence currently has over 1100 Indigenous Australians in the workforce, both military and civilian.