Personnel get lesson in Aboriginal culture

Able Seaman Boatswains Mates Jahlaya Weazel, Vanessa Lee Cheu and Kirsten Taylor Hansson on the tour at La Perouse, NSW. Photo: Leading Seaman Thomas Sawtell

Personnel get lesson in Aboriginal culture

During NAIDOC Week, Navy personnel from all backgrounds were taken on a cultural immersion tour of La Perouse, Sydney, to develop an understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal culture.

Members learned about native sustenance and pharmaceuticals from an Indigenous expert on land traditionally owned by the Bidjigal and Gadijal people of the Eora Nation.

Tour leader Kirra Randall, from Bundjulung Country, shared her personal expertise of flora and fauna, from plants that aid toothaches to traditional hairbrushes, band aids, glue and multiple ways to repel mosquitos. 

Seaman Cryptologic Systems Operator Cody Thompson said she enjoyed learning about how Indigenous people related to the land.

“Not identifying as Indigenous and coming here to learn about their culture has been a remarkable experience,” Seaman Thompson said. 

“I was particularly interested in how they use the land and nature to their advantage, such as identifying when food sources are available via the stars and flowers. 

“I definitely think it’s necessary to immerse ourselves in Indigenous culture as it’s important to know how to care for and enable our land to thrive and survive.”

Participants were welcomed with ochre painted on their face. Women had dots reflecting coastal people and men had lines reflecting whales and warriors. They also ate native foods along the track, including sour native blueberries and sarsaparilla leaves. 

The tour formed part of Navy’s commitment to being a culturally inclusive employer that reflects the diversity of the Australian community and one that encourages its people to keep in touch with their cultures and actively share them with colleagues.  

Able Seaman Jahlaya Weazel, from Wakka Wakka and Pitta Pitta countries, said sharing her culture with Navy friends and colleagues made her feel included and reinforced Navy’s commitment to Closing the Gap.

“Our culture is about love, respect and unity,” Able Seaman Weazel said. 

“When we get together we have a laugh and we love sharing our knowledge and heritage, so to be given opportunities like this by Navy is amazing and meaningful to me.”

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