Newly arrived Indigenous military and APS personnel have been welcomed to the Puckapunyal Military Area in a ceremony at the base yarning circle.
Senior Australian Defence Force Officer-Puckapunyal Colonel David McCammon hosted Aunty Joanne and Uncle Shane from the local Taungurung Land and Waters Council.
For Uncle Shane, it was an important occasion to explain to Indigenous and non-Indigenous members posted to the base why it was important to welcome visitors to ancestral country.
“In Taungurung culture we have a close affiliation to the land and its care,” Uncle Shane said.
“We welcome visitors to our land. We extend our friendship and we offer cleansing through the white smoke of this fire. White smoke is a healing smoke, unlike the destructive black smoke of bushfires that have caused so much damage to our land. By bathing yourself in this smoke, you leave behind any harmful spirits that may have followed you here. Breath in its healing vapours and know that you are welcome on Taungurung land.”
After opening the yarning circle during NAIDOC Week 2020, Aunty Joanne said she was looking forward to seeing the area continuing to develop and grow connections between each other’s mobs.
“This yarning circle continues to be a place where we can come together and learn from each other,” Aunty Joanne said.
“But now I want you to come up with your own ideas on how we can decorate this circle with totems and home symbology to make it your own, and to show future visitors that you have been here.
“I challenge you to bring your innovative ideas on how to make this happen.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Colonel McCammon thanked Aunty Joanne and Uncle Shane for their ongoing commitment to soldiers and staff posted to Puckapunyal and presented each with a Defence Friendship coin and Rising Sun hat badge.
“I value the cultural advice and counselling that you bring to all of us here and will support the ongoing care and maintenance of the yarning circle as an important place to come together and support each other,” Colonel McCammon said.
The Puckapunyal Yarning Circle continues to provide a culturally appropriate meeting place where a network of kinship and cultural support can be established and strengthened between Indigenous personnel, their families and members of the local mob.