Defence acknowledges National Reconciliation Week
27 May 2013
The Department of Defence will be flying the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags across the country this week in recognition of National Reconciliation Week (NRW).
This significant acknowledgement is a relatively new tradition started by Chief of the Defence Forces General David Hurley, in 2011 and pays tribute to the important role Indigenous people have in Defence.
Wakka Wakka man and Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) Army Officer Cadet Thomas Boase kicked off the week’s celebrations in Canberra today by delivering the inaugural Defence Keynote Address for NRW titled ‘Let’s Talk Recognition’.
At the beginning of his address, Officer Cadet Boase invited the audience to spend a few moments to reflect privately on reconciliation and what it means to be a traditional land custodian - a part of the oldest continuing culture in human history.
While the audience reflected, ADFA Midshipman Douglas Wells, a Kamilaroi man from Walgett NSW, played the didgeridoo.
Officer Cadet Boase spoke passionately about what recognition means to him personally and within Defence.
“In terms of Recognition in a Defence context, this morning I feel a great sense of pride when I see the Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Strait Islander Flag being flown in Field Marshal Sir Thomas Blamey Square [in Canberra] between the Australian National Flag and the Australian Defence Force Ensign,” he said.
“Army teaches me about force multipliers and, while flying the flags might be a relatively simple thing to do, it is a tremendously important gesture of Recognition - and that message has a profound impact all those who bear witness.
“To me, these initiatives are very healthy and clear signs that our Defence leaders are serious about Recognition - it's about properly recognising the contribution of the Indigenous members in our broader Defence family,” he said.
Navy Chief Petty Officer Ray Rosendale, a member of the Western Sunset Clan of the Gugu Yalanji people, presided over the event as the Master of Ceremonies.
Following the address, Officer Cadet Boase and Midshipman Doug Wells were congratulated by Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Raymond Griggs. Officer Cadet Boase was also presented with an Army Indigenous Commemorative Coin on behalf of the Chief of Army by Major Melissa Campbell.
Defence will further celebrate NRW by holding commemorative services, presentations and workshops nationally covering the theme ‘Reconciliation – what else can Defence do?’ This initiative is designed to introduce further thinking regarding our civilian and military Indigenous programs.
Images of today’s inaugural presentation are available at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20130143
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