Throughout NAIDOC Week, the RAAF will participate in events across Australia to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
CAPTION:Wing Commander Jonathan Lilley (left), Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Grace Casey-Maughan (centre) and FLTLT Tjapukai Shaw join members from No. 37 Squadron in Gilgandra, as part of an Indigenous community engagement visit. Story by Pilot Officer Olivia Tiele. Photo by Corporal Casey Forster.
Members will engage with cultural elements and traditions to engage with the theme of Heal Country.
Country is not solely the natural elements that we walk upon, but rather it is spoken of like a person. The idea of country pleading to be nurtured and cared for by each and every one of us.
Flight Lieutenant Grace Casey-Maughan, a Ngarigo woman, reflected upon country as a landscape that was contoured by clean natural elements, however, one that called for greater protection.
“The theme of Heal Country means caring for country,” Flight Lieutenant Casey-Maughan said.
“Country runs deep and resonates with all levels of being – physical, spiritual and emotional.”
NAIDOC Week created a space and time to foster celebration with the community and celebrate what it meant to be the longest continuous culture in the world.
“This NAIDOC Week I will be celebrating by joining in community events on whose land I live and work,” Flight Lieutenant Casey-Maughan said.
“I will be participating in RAAF Base Williamtown events by giving back to the community in the spirit of Heal Country.”
Senior ADF Officer RAAF Base Williamtown Group Captain Anthony Stainton said it was a great opportunity for all Defence personnel to expand their Indigenous cultural knowledge and understanding.
“Connection to the land surrounding us will be recognised through the collaboration of the Royal Australian Air Force with Port Stephens Koala Rescue Service,” Group Captain Stainton said.
“Over the last few years, the base has been working on a community project to plant over 15,000 koala feed trees on Defence land.
“This project included initial engagement with the local Worimi community to ensure all aspects of cultural significance of the land were understood.
“It is our enduring commitment to respect the cultural heritage of the land over which we fly.”
Connections to people and place, history and culture, and ultimately country, is vital to ensuring that cultural awareness is at the forefront of Air Force and our people.
“Caring for country is imperative, if you look after country, it’ll look after you,” Flight Lieutenant Casey-Maughan said.