The Australian Defence Force has celebrated Australian National Reconciliation Week at its headquarters in Canberra with a keynote address by Mr Jeremy Donovan, a Kuku-Yalanji descendent from far North Queensland.
National Reconciliation Week is celebrated across Australia each year between 27 May and 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey, being the anniversaries of the successful 1967 referendum in regards to Indigenous Australians and the 1992 High Court Mabo decision.
Through his captivating and informative presentation, Mr Donovan united the many worlds that Australian Defence Force personnel and members of the wider Australian community come from, expressing his message with a wonderful and authentic energy.
“I dream that one day I will be privileged enough to be a grandparent. I dream that my grandkids will jump up on my lap or sit down next to me by the fire. And I will tell them about the disparity and disadvantage that existed between indigenous and non indigenous people. My grandkids will look back to me with complete disbelief, because in their life time it won’t exist anymore. And that is my dream,” Mr Jeremy Donovan said.
Captain Mark Hill represented Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, at the event. Captain Hill shared how he was personally moved by Mr Donovan’s story.
“He gave an address that inspired and enlightened people, regardless of their background, about indigenous issues and the importance of what we do in defence, in support of the broader National Reconciliation effort,” Captain Hill said.
It was Mr Donovan’s first time speaking to members of the Australian Defence Force.
“It was a wonderful opportunity in National Reconciliation Week to come down and speak to everyone here,” Mr Donovan said.
Chief of Navy’s Indigenous Advisor, Chief Petty Officer Ray Rosendale attended the event.
“Attending today was very special for me,” Chief Petty Officer Rosendale said.
“There is really something special about belonging. Military members know what belonging is, young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women know what belonging is. It’s about being able to belong to something bigger than yourself, that holds you in as much importance as anyone else,” he said.
The Royal Australian Navy has a long and proud tradition of indigenous service and this is a time for reflection on our national journey towards reconciliation, and the part that we play in that National Reconciliation effort.