Navy and Army joined forces with the City of Rockingham to celebrate NAIDOC Week at the Gary Holland Community Centre near HMAS Stirling.
Navy staged an interactive display complemented by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Defence personnel who engaged with the local community and enjoyed cultural performances, stalls and fun activities.
‘Songlines’ was the theme at this year’s NAIDOC Week and portrayed the living narrative of Australia further highlighting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s history and deep spiritual connection to land and sea.
Regional Indigenous Liaison Officer Western Australia, Warrant Officer Class One Jeff Murray explained that ‘songlines’ enabled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people effective transition across unfamiliar country.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people use cues from the landscape to recall and pass on important knowledge, cultural values and wisdom,” Warrant Officer Murray said.
“‘Songlines’ is a powerful memory technique deeply tied to the Australian landscape that provides important knowledge, cultural values and wisdom to Indigenous people.
“It tells the story of the journey, direction and the location of all the features that are important, so the knowledge is literally grounded in the landscape.
“The technique is reinforced by the use of message sticks which were regarded as objects that granted its carrier a safe passage and entry into the lands of other tribes, even when entering ‘enemy territory’.”
Defence celebrates NAIDOC Week across Australia each July to acknowledge the contributions and achievements of Indigenous members of Defence, the commitment to reconciliation and closing the gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australians from all walks of life.
“A lot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people served from the Boer War up until 1967 - when they weren’t eligible,” he said.
“Because of their determination and loyalty they found their way into the services without disclosing their indelibility at the time.”