Indigenous community flying high for NAIDOC Week
A didgeridoo competition at the mess and flights for members of the local Indigenous community, many of whom had never flown before, were among the activities held to celebrate NAIDOC Week at RAAF Base Amberley.
Indigenous Liaison Officer Flight Lieutenant Kristal House facilitated the events on November 12 including flights for local Indigenous elders, families and students in a No. 86 Wing C-17A Globemaster III and KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport.
Flight Lieutenant House said the guests had the opportunity to speak with Air Force members about their experiences and share some of their own.
“The aim of these activities is to promote Air Force and ensure the local community feels part of what we do here on base,” Flight Lieutenant House said.
“The majority of the guests hadn’t flown before, so this was a massive milestone.
“Their reactions were so humbling – we had children as young as five years old and elders well into their 70s flying.
“For some, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“It’s all about providing a different perspective and to help motivate students who want to strive towards something bigger and better.”
Flight Lieutenant House said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members representing a number of musterings from RAAF Base Amberley were also on each aircraft.
“The goal was cross-cultural interaction,” Flight Lieutenant House said.
“Having Indigenous and non-Indigenous members speaking with the community and feeling comfortable – word of mouth is what we all respond to. It’s how trust is built.
“The elders appreciate what we are doing and it has a huge impact, especially for teenage students who want to ask questions about potential career options in the future.”
She said giving community members a taste of what Air Force does and recognising the unique skillsets, knowledge and perspectives that Indigenous personnel brought to Defence was key to fostering strong relationships.
“Having other uniformed members on the aircraft interacting and talking about their journeys in Defence reiterates Air Force’s commitment to the Our Place, Our Skies policy, and that we have options for those looking to join,” Flight Lieutenant House said.
“Inclusion and diversity is essential to capability and effectiveness.”
Nos. 33 and 36 Squadrons hosted flights last year as part of their ongoing commitment to Indigenous engagement and there are plans in place for flights next year.
Meanwhile, the winner of the didgeridoo competition received an Aboriginal artwork to display at their unit.