Indigenous sailors in HMAS Adelaide are swapping stories and celebrating their culture as the ship’s company marks NAIDOC Week.
Adelaide has been conducting amphibious training as part of Exercise Sea Wader off the coast of North Queensland.
Able Seaman Boatswain’s Mate Hudson Anu, who has family from Cairns in North Queensland and is from the Saltwater People of Saibai Island in the Torres Strait, helps operate and maintain the ship’s landing craft.
He said NAIDOC Week was an important occasion for the Indigenous crew serving in Adelaide.
“NAIDOC Week is a time to share our culture. It’s putting ourselves out there and making everyone part of one big tribe,” he said.
When Leading Seaman Boatswain’s Mate Kaylin Coleman is not on watch on the ship’s bridge, she seeks out her good friend Able Seaman Boatswain’s Mate Teneille Francis.
Leading Seaman Coleman is a Gubrun woman who grew up in the Kalgoorlie-Boulder region of Western Australia, while Leading Seaman Francis is a Bunuba woman from the Kimberley region of Western Australia.
“I love having other Indigenous sailors on the ship as we can share our stories,” Leading Seaman Coleman said.
“Having that connection with them, we can make life-long friendships.”
Able Seaman Francis said travelling and making life-long friends were some of the attractions of a career in the Navy.
“I recommend Navy as a career for other Indigenous people because of the opportunities it offers,” she said.
Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Chef William Nicolaidis began his career through the Navy Indigenous Development Program (NIDP), a pathways program to help Indigenous people transition to Navy.
The Wakka Wakka man is from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
He credits the NIDP for providing the foundation for his career.
“Without Navy and the program, I wouldn’t be who I am today,” Able Seaman Nicolaidis said.
“Navy has given me skills, it’s given me leadership.
“To then go back to my community and be that person, the person my mob wants me to be, is awesome.”
Adelaide's First Lieutenant Lieutenant Commander Richard Unwin said he was 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.”