Personnel from the 4th Brigade at Simpson Barracks in Victoria marked National Reconciliation Week and National Sorry Day on May 25 with an Indigenous ceremony.

A Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony was conducted by Indigenous Elder Ronald Terrick, also known as Uncle Ringo, of the Wurundjeri Tribe who are the traditional custodians of the lands on which Simpson Barracks is located. 

A smoking ceremony is an ancient Aboriginal custom that involves burning various native plants to produce smoke, which has cleansing properties and the ability to ward off bad spirits from the people and the land and make a pathway for a brighter future. 

Uncle Ringo invited those present to join him in placing green gum leaves on the fire that had been carried from a sacred fire to the ceremony, while telling the history of the Simpson Barrack’s lands and the Indigenous people’s connection to it. 

He then invited the group to join together in a circle around the fire while he conducted the traditional rite of the Wurundjeri.

Uncle Ringo was welcomed to the barracks by Commander 4th Brigade Brigadier Matt Burr, Deputy Commander 4th Brigade Colonel David Cadogan-Cowper and Regimental Sergeant Major 4th Brigade Warrant Officer Class 1 Sean McGinley. 

Formation Indigenous Liaison Officer at the 4th Brigade Captain Robert Powell said everyone had a role to play when it comes to reconciliation. 

“In playing our part, we collectively build relationships and communities that value First Nations’ peoples, histories, cultures, and futures,” Captain Powell said. 

“Activities where we engage with the First Nations’ people of our area allow us to show our commitment towards reconciliation.

“It’s a chance to reflect, to come together and share the steps towards healing for the stolen generation, their families and communities.”

National Reconciliation Week is held annually between May 27 and June 3 and celebrates building respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and non-Indigenous Australians.