Home' Defence Magazine : Defence Magazine Issue 2, 2108 Contents 20 Defence Issue 2 2018
EFENCE has a long and proud history
of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
service in both the ADF and APS.
Celebrating Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander culture is vital for the
preservation of Indigenous Australians’ heritage,
spirituality and beliefs.
Each year Defence participates in National
Reconciliation Week, NAIDOC Week and the
Garma Festival. Celebrating these events provides
an opportunity for all Australians to learn about
Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians’ shared
histories and to celebrate the diversity of cultures,
customs and beliefs.
National Reconciliation Week
NATIONAL Reconciliation Week is held annually
and aims to build respectful relationships between
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and
Stephanie McNeill, of Defence People Group has
worked in Defence for more than 10 years and has
noted a significant and positive change with increases
in cultural awareness across the department.
“Reconciliation is about acknowledging the
wrongs of the past and the impact they have had on
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, health
and welfare throughout history and still today,”
“Reconciliation also reinforces the importance
of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians
committing to the development and maintenance of
positive relationships to progress together and heal
through education, opportunity and compassion.”
The theme for National Reconciliation Week, held
from 27 May to 3 June, was ‘Don’t keep history a
mystery’. This theme invited all Australians to learn,
share and grow by exploring the past and learning
more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
histories and cultures and to develop a deeper
understanding of our national story.
This year Defence encouraged employees to
participate in National Reconciliation Week through
the provision of self-host event packs.
The packs contained information about the
significance of the week, suggestions on how to
celebrate and key messages to empower employees to
discuss the importance of reconciliation.
Among the many events held throughout
Defence was a tour of the Australian War Memorial
in Canberra focusing on the history of Indigenous
service, followed by a Last Post Ceremony, an
Indigenous history presentation at HMAS Albatross,
a Mental Health Speaker Series presentation
from Indigenous Olympian Kyle Vander Kuyp
and participation in the Victorian Aboriginal
Remembrance Service in Melbourne.
HELD each July, NAIDOC Week recognises the
history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people. This year NAIDOC
Week was celebrated from 8-15 July with the theme
‘Because of her we can’.
On 9 July the then Defence Minister Marise
Payne launched a video at a special ceremony in
the NAIDOC 2018 host city Sydney, honouring this
year’s theme and the contributions, both past and
present, of Indigenous women to the ADF.
The event included a panel discussion with female
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members
who shared stories about their culture, their ADF
or Defence experience, and the women who have
influenced and shaped them.
Jen Reilly, a Bidjara descendant from Charleville,
South-West Queensland, participated in the panel
discussion by sharing her journey and reflecting on
the theme with stories of her female role models.
“NAIDOC Week for me is about celebrating the
diverse cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander people,” Jen says.
Each year she tries to attend NAIDOC
celebrations in a different region to help her learn
about other communities.
“It’s a good time to come together as a nation
to learn more about the ancient cultures, traditions
and stories that go back thousands and thousands of
years,” she says.
Similar to Defence’s approach for celebrating
National Reconciliation Week in 2018, self-host
event packs were also developed for NAIDOC Week.
Among the events held in Defence for NAIDOC
Week were an opening ceremony in Canberra, the
launch of Indigenous pathway program videos in
Sydney, cultural walks in Canberra and an Indigenous
Art Exhibition in South Bandiana.
THE then acting First Assistant Secretary People
Policy and Culture, Rowena Bain, attended the
Garma Festival with a delegation of Defence senior
leaders and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
“Respectful engagement with Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities
is an important and integral way to strengthen our
capability, increase diversity and enhance the cultural
intelligence of Defence,” Rowena says.
“Defence’s involvement in the Garma Festival
provided a meaningful opportunity to learn from
Indigenous cultures, support the local communities
and, in turn, influence Defence’s Indigenous
programs and policies.”
A community engagement team of ADF personnel
Defence continues to support the awareness-
raising and education of its people in
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