Elders take centre stage

Defence Indigenous Service Elders shared their experiences with hundreds of Defence personnel during a panel discussion for NAIDOC Week in Ngunnawal Country (Canberra) on July 3.

CAPTION: Defence Indigenous Elders speak during a panel for NAIDOC Week. From left, Air Force Warrant Officer Donald Taylor, Aunty Frances Visini, Aunty Lorraine Hatton, Uncle Phillip Bowie and John Love. Story and photo by Corporal Michael Rogers.

Keeping with this year’s NAIDOC Week theme of For Our Elders, the panel featured Defence’s Indigenous Elders speaking about their experiences as First Nations people serving in the ADF.

The panel was broadcast to more than 500 Defence personnel and attended in person by Defence Graduate Program participants, and RAAF senior leaders Warrant Officer of the Air Force Ralph Clifton and Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Robert Chipman.

Navy Indigenous Development Program Elders and former sailors Aunty Frances Visini and Uncle Philip Bowie spoke about growing up in the Torres Strait and joining the Navy in the late 1950s.

Army veteran of 21 years and Army’s Indigenous Elder, Aunty Lorraine Hatton, spoke about the increased number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Defence members since she began her career.

Air Force Warrant Officer Donald Taylor, representing Air Force Elder Aunty Deborah Brooker, spoke about the cultural changes that continue to happen during his service.

The conversation ranged from the Elder’s inspiration for joining the Defence Force, their lived experiences in the services, and encouraging young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to consider a career in Defence.

The panel was hosted by Indigenous Cultural Advisory Group Chair, Bundjalung man John Love, who is also Defence’s Assistant Secretary for Workplace Health and Safety.


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