Adelaide celebrates NAIDOC Week

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Geoff Long (author), LSIS Nadav Harel (photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Adelaide (L01), NAIDOC Week, Navy Indigenous Development Program, Diversity and Inclusivity

L-R: Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Chef William Nicolaidis; Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Teneille Francis; Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Hudson Anu; former Deputy Officer of the Navy Indigenous Development Program, Lieutenant Commander Richard Unwin; and Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Kaylin Coleman stand on the flight deck of HMAS Adelaide during Exercise SEA WADER 2020 off the Queensland coast. (photo: LSIS Nadav Harel)
L-R: Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Chef William Nicolaidis; Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Teneille Francis; Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Hudson Anu; former Deputy Officer of the Navy Indigenous Development Program, Lieutenant Commander Richard Unwin; and Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Kaylin Coleman stand on the flight deck of HMAS Adelaide during Exercise SEA WADER 2020 off the Queensland coast.

Indigenous sailors in HMAS Adelaide will be swapping stories and celebrating their culture with the rest of the ship’s company to mark NAIDOC Week, 8-15 November.

Adelaide has been conducting amphibious training as part of Exercise SEA WADER in waters off North Queensland.

Able Seaman Boatswain’s Mate Hudson Anu, who has family from Cairns in North Queensland and from the Saltwater People of Saibai Island in the Torres Strait, helps operate and maintain the ship’s landing craft.

Able Seaman Anu said NAIDOC Week was an important occasion for the many Indigenous crew members on the ship.

“NAIDOC Week is an occasion to let people know how we celebrate, what we do and just share our culture. It’s putting ourselves out there and making everyone a part of one big tribe,” Able Seaman Anu said.

When she’s not on watch on the ship’s bridge, Leading Seaman Boatswain’s Mate Kaylin Coleman - a Gubrun woman who grew up in the Kalgoorlie-Boulder region of Western Australia - will seek out her good friend Able Seaman Boatswain’s Mate Teneille Francis, a Bunuba woman from the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

“I love having other Indigenous sailors on the ship so we can share our stories, having that connection with them and making life-long friendships,” Leading Seaman Coleman said. 

Able Seaman Francis said travelling and making life-long friends was one of the attractions of a career in the Navy.

“I recommend Navy as a career for other Indigenous people for the opportunities it offers and as a way to make new friends and travel the world,” she said.

Before joining Adelaide, Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Chef William Nicolaidis came through the Navy Indigenous Development Program (NIDP), a pathways program to help Indigenous people transition to Navy.

Able Seaman Nicolaidis is from the Sunshine Coast and part of the Wakka Wakka Aboriginal clan of Queensland. He credits the NIDP for providing the foundation for his career today.

“Without Navy and the program I wouldn’t be who I am today. It’s given me skills, it’s given me leadership. To then go back to my community and be that person that my mob wants me to be is awesome,” Able Seaman Nicolaidis said. 

Adelaide First Lieutenant, Lieutenant Commander Richard Unwin, is also proud of Able Seaman Nicolaidis’ achievements. Lieutenant Commander Unwin was previously the second-in-charge of the NIDP course in Cairns. 

“It makes me feel extremely proud to see members who have been through the NIDP come on board Adelaide,” he said.

“It’s extremely important to recognise NAIDOC Week not only in Navy but in Australian society.

“First Australians have made a significant contribution to the Defence of Australia and continue to make a significant contribution, and we need to recognise that.”