Australians serving in the Middle East have joined the broader Australian Defence Force in recognising National Aborigines and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week.

Joint Task Force 633 (JTF633) held a flag-raising ceremony at its headquarters on November 9.

Held this year from the November 8 to 15, NAIDOC Week provides an opportunity to celebrate the cultures and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Air Force Expeditionary Airbase Operation Unit’s Warrant Officer Craig Sippitts said the flag-raising ceremony was a simple gesture that complemented activities held earlier this year.

“In May, JTF633 recognised National Reconciliation Week and, in July, held the Deadly Fun Run acknowledging the first footprints in Australia,” Warrant Officer Sippitts said.

“Despite the best efforts of COVID-19 to hinder NAIDOC Week, we are pleased to see it go ahead and are proud to be part of this important annual event.” 

The theme for this year’s NAIDOC Week is Always Was, Always Will Be. 

This theme is personally relevant to Headquarters JTF633 chief of staff Group Captain John Davidson.

“I only recently discovered that my ancestors include the Biripi people of Northern NSW, but just because I wasn’t aware of it, doesn’t mean it wasn’t always there – it always was and always will be,” Group Captain Davidson said.

At the flag-raising ceremony, Commander of JTF633 Major General Susan Coyle told the story of Trooper Frank Fisher, an Indigenous member of the 11th Light Horse Regiment.

Major General Coyle praised the exceptional courage demonstrated by Trooper Fisher who fought in the Battle of Beersheeba as part of the Palestine campaign during World War I, volunteering selflessly to fight for a nation that did not include First Nations’ people as citizens.

“Without the contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members like Trooper Fisher and many others, we would not be the highly respected and professional multicultural defence force that we are today,” Major General Coyle said.

“We honour their service to our nation as we proudly serve alongside one another as members of the ADF.”