Puckapunyal military area in Victoria recently conducted a smoking ceremony to welcome newly arrived Indigenous military and Australian Public Service personnel to the base.

A number of non-Indigenous personnel from across the base and from Defence Plaza Melbourne were also welcomed.

In language and then with translation, Aunty Joanne from the local Taungurung Land and Waters Council welcomed the audience to the smoking ceremony.

Auntry Joanne explained the reasoning for formally welcoming visitors to ancestral country, how and why it is conducted, before inviting everyone to participate.

“The Taungurung people have a close affiliation to the land on which the Puckapunyal Army base is sited,” Aunty Joanne said.

“I’m pleased to welcome the Army and its people onto this land.

“The Army shows an obvious respect and care for the land around here.”     

At the completion of the ceremony, Aunty Joanne confirmed her ongoing commitment to providing cultural advice and counselling to Puckapunyal-based personnel.

Aunty Joanne was delighted with the new fire pit constructed by V/Line using old railway line fittings. Defence donated the cost of the fire pit to Anglicare Victoria, who will use it to fund Indigenous youth projects.

Senior Australian Defence Force officer at Puckapunyal, Colonel Patrick Davison, said that the Puckapunyal Yarning Circle is a welcome addition to the base as a culturally appropriate meeting place.

“The Yarning Circle provides a network of kinship and cultural support between Puckapunyal Indigenous personnel, their families and members of the local mob,” Colonel Davison said.

“Army shares a connection to country that is deepened and strengthened by the knowledge and experience of our Indigenous soldiers and local elders here at Puckapunyal.

“Our relationship with the local community partners is based on mutual respect and these relationships make us all stronger, better people.”