Enhanced mentoring and support for Indigenous soldiers have been the catalyst for the enlistment of an ‘uncle’ at Townsville’s 3rd Brigade.
CAPTION: Indigenous elder David Boye speaks to guests during his enlistment ceremony in Townsville. Story by Captain Lily Charles. Photo by Corporal Brodie Cross.
David Boye was enlisted into the Army on September 13 as the first 3rd Brigade Uncle to provide cultural support and guidance for Indigenous soldiers.
A Goori and Dunghutti man, Uncle Dave, who has served in the regular Army previously, said he was looking forward to his role as a mentor.
“The enormity of the job, the task and the responsibility is not lost on me,” Uncle Dave said.
“Townsville has a very large military footprint, within a very large Indigenous footprint and the synergy and the connection of those two should never be underestimated. It should continue to be worked on.
“I hope as things progress that every soldier will see the role, and every soldier will be proud to have an uncle supporting and representing them, no matter where they are from or who they are.”
Working in a Local Observer Element appointment, Uncle Dave will work with Army Indigenous elder Aunty Lorraine to provide advice to command teams within the brigade to enhance the continued improvement and retention of its Indigenous soldiers.
Commander 3rd Brigade Brigadier Kahlil Fegan said Uncle Dave’s extensive cultural knowledge and experience would have a positive impact on the brigade and its soldiers.
“Uncle Dave has an incredible wealth of experience, both with his service history and his strong relationships with the Townsville and Indigenous communities,” Brigadier Fegan said.
“It is a privilege to enlist him into the Australian Army formally as an uncle in recognition of the wonderful support he has been providing, not just to our Indigenous soldiers, but to all of our soldiers, for many years.”
Originally joining the Army in 1982 as a Signaller Artillery, Uncle Dave began his career at the 4th Field Regiment in Townsville, before serving in a range of postings across NSW, Queensland and Victoria.
In his community role, Uncle Dave regularly travels around the nations of Bindal, Wulgurukaba, Yirrganydji, Yarraba and Bulawai, and recently received blessings from their traditional owners to be an uncle of these lands.
He has also developed a strong connection with other nations, including Ngunnawal, Awabakal, Worimi and Ningy Ningy, enabling him to assist Indigenous soldiers in the region wanting to reconnect with their cultural heritage.
These connections are vital to helping soldiers feel comfortable to reach out, and Trooper Amaru Brown, a Taribelang Bunda man and armoured cavalry driver, said Uncle Dave was the right choice.
“He is the right man for the job,” Trooper Brown said.
“In reality, there are some people who aren’t as confident talking to their chain of command about culture and stuff like that, so with Dave being an uncle they will be able to open up a lot more.
“I think it will be a good boost for Indigenous soldiers to know there is someone out there who can listen to them, and communicate with and for them.”