The Commanding Officer of Joint Logistics Unit - West, Commander Sean Noble, has formally recognised traditional land custodians as part of the Defence Indigenous Reconciliation Program in ceremony at one of Australia’s longest standing military establishments.
Palmer Barracks, in Guildford, Western Australia, is one of the two main sites for the logistics unit and has been a Defence establishment since the First World War. From 1912 until the early 1950s, the barracks was primarily used as a major ammunition storage facility.
With the unveiling of an Acknowledgement of Country plaque and the permanent display of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at Palmer Barracks, Commander Noble said the ceremony was an important step in the history of the barracks.
“Defence, as a representative of the Government and of the people, continues to embrace reconciliation, and has made strong progress in recognising Indigenous culture,” he said.
Barbara Kickett, a local Aboriginal Elder representing the Whadjak people, gave an emotional Welcome to Country speech, explaining the importance of continuing Aboriginal customs and language through the younger generations, and how the Aboriginal language had a healing connection to the land.
President of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Veterans Association of Western Australia and former serving Army member Dianne Ryder shared her pride in the efforts by the Government’s Closing the Gap commitment.
“I am honoured as to how the Defence Force has embraced our culture,” she said.
“With the unveiling of the Acknowledgment of Country plaque and the raising of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags here at Palmer Barracks, it is another step that shows that the Defence Force’s commitment to reconciliation will be ongoing.”
The day of the unveiling - 14 October - marked the 28th anniversary of the barracks, which was named in honour of Brigadier E Palmer. Brigadier Palmer enlisted as a Private in the Army in 1942 and served in the South West Pacific in the Second World War and commissioned as an officer in 1944. He was promoted to Brigadier in 1975, and was appointed Director General Supply - Army and the head of Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps, before retiring in 1978.
Commander Noble said it was no coincidence that the two events shared the same day.
“While both individual in their own right, both events share a common cause, steeped in honour, recognition, reflection and celebration,” Commander Noble said.
“Australia has a unique history that has shaped the diversity of its people, their cultures and lifestyles. Today, more than ever, Australia is a progressive inclusive community that embraces cultural diversity within our population.
“The acceptance and recognition of our indigenous culture is of the utmost importance as we continue to develop and mature as a nation.”
Commander Noble will soon hand the weight of command over to fellow Royal Australian Navy logistician, Commander Robyn Sampson.