The morning began with a smoking ceremony led by guest Brendan Kerin, a descendant of two prominent Aboriginal tribes, the Arrernte and the Barkindji people.
A small number of sailors and officers assembled in the hangar for the ceremony, held under COVID regulations, in which smoke from the eucalyptus blew through the crowd; Mr Kerin explained this would cleanse the attendees.
Parramatta Commanding Officer, Commander Anita Nemarich, said she was moved to share in the tradition and honoured to receive a box bearing the ashes from the ceremony.
“We are honoured to host this event as part of NAIDOC Week and embrace Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through the performances and rituals held on board,” Commander Nemarich said.
“To be part of the smoking ceremony and to have the ashes of that ceremony preserved on board is incredibly important to us and our connection to country.”
Events like the one on board Parramatta reflect the Royal Australian Navy’s commitment to sharing and promoting Indigenous cultures.
Some members of ship’s company were invited to participate in a didgeridoo workshop taught by Mr Mark King and his son, Jiah King, Murri men and descendants of the Waanyi and Wangkamadla people.
With a mixture of determination and good humour, the group of sailors and officers managed to produce some musical sounds before the Kings performed as a duet, combining guitar, didgeridoo and vocal performances.
Petty Officer Boatswains Mate Jordon Bradshaw, a proud Dunghutti man, participated in events on board.
“NAIDOC Week within Navy presents great opportunity to get in touch with our roots and where we come from. I’m always proud to play the didgeridoo and get younger generations to celebrate our culture,” PO Bradshaw said.
“Navy has always been supportive of my culture, and they’re definitely leading the way in that sense.
“These events are about us getting out there and educating not just our neighbours, but everybody, on our shared history and culture,” he said.
The theme of NAIDOC Week 2020 is “Always Was, Always Will Be”. Navy is promoting a number of cultural immersion activities to celebrate Australia’s shared history and support members to learn about and participate in Indigenous culture.