‘Our women are most important’ HMAS Albatross marks NAIDOC week

Smoking ceremony at HMAS Albatross

Smoking ceremony at HMAS Albatross

HMAS Albatross acknowledged its links to the Aboriginal community with a touching NAIDOC week service on Thursday morning.

The service opened with a traditional smoking ceremony, and a welcome to country from respected local Aboriginal elder Paul McLeod.

“I felt blessed and honoured today to come here with my family, I have my daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters, my wife is coming here soon,” Aboriginal elder Paul McLeod said.

“Our women are most important, like all women around the world.

“They look after, they maintain, they keep the structure in place.

“They’re the backbone that keeps everything intact.

“This is what I know of my upbringing – lived in a tin shack with no electricity, no water, best time of my life.

“I explain to my children and grandchildren, be happy with what you have, some people have nothing.”

Smoking ceremony at HMAS Albatross

Smoking ceremony at HMAS Albatross

HMAS Albatross Commodore Scott Lockey said this year’s NAIDOC theme resonated with those on base.

“’Because of her we can’ is the theme for the year, it shows the importance of Indigenous women to their community and the contribution they make, it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate that,” he said.

Didgeridoo player during the smoking ceremony at HMAS Albatross

Didgeridoo player during the smoking ceremony at HMAS Albatross

The Australian Defence Force is on track to achieving its target of 2.7 per cent representation of Indigenous people in its workforce by December, at 2.6 per cent now.

“It’s getting closer to being representative of the broader Australian community,” Commodore Lockey said.

“We’re recognising the importance of culture and connection to the community and to country, and taking steps to making defence a more inclusive and welcoming environment.

“The more we can celebrate events like these, and we can demonstrate to our Indigenous family we are inclusive, it strengthens us, the better we are as an organisation.”

Aboriginal elder Paul McLeod putting ochre on men and women at HMAS Albatross on Thursday

Aboriginal elder Paul McLeod putting ochre on men and women at HMAS Albatross on Thursday

The service, attended by hundreds, allowed all to participate in Aboriginal traditions.

All in attendance walked by the fire-pit, taking an active part in the smoking ceremony.