RAAF Base Williamtown celebrates NAIDOC Week

RAAF Senior Indigenous Liaison Officer, Wing Commander Jonathan Lilley conducts a smoking ceremony at the opening of the new south gate at RAAF Base Williamtown. Photo by CPL Craig Barrett.


RAAF Base Williamtown personnel have joined the Worimi community and wider Indigenous regional community at special NAIDOC Week Marches at Newcastle, Raymond Terrace and Nelson Bay.

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Participation in NAIDOC Week activities on 8 and 10 Jul 2019 highlight the base’s commitment to maintaining strong connections with local Indigenous communities.

Senior Australian Defence Force Officer – RAAF Base Williamtown, Group Captain (GPCAPT) Peter Cluff, said it is an important relationship that has been fostered over time.

“We are proud of the close and enduring connection we have with the Elders and members of the Worimi community,” GPCAPT Cluff said.

“It is a relationship that has been nurtured and maintained over many years and actively supported through our Cultural Awareness Program.”

In acknowledgement of the NAIDOC theme: ‘Voice. Treaty. Truth: Let’s Work Together for a Shared Future’, Group Captain Cluff said that the Base’s ongoing inclusion and consultative approach with Worimi community Elders was important.

“It is an honour and a privilege to have such a strong relationship with the Worimi and we sincerely value their history, culture, insights and knowledge as part of our Base family.”

Worimi Elder, Uncle Neville, said the Worimi people and Base personnel have a meaningful connection and mutual understanding.

“Bonded by our passion for this country and community – we have embraced each other as brothers and sisters and we look forward to walking together into the future,” Uncle Neville.

“With our collective story yet to be written, it will no doubt be a story of friendship, family and a journey of mutual respect and appreciation that continues.”

As part of NAIDOC week celebrations, Worimi Elders were invited as honoured guests to officially open the newly completed South Gate of RAAF Base Williamtown on 11 July 2019 to acknowledge the Worimi people’s contribution, role and place within the Williamtown Base community.

“The Worimi Elders presence and role in today’s ceremony re-enforces our commitment to ensuring that local Indigenous communities are engaged through word and action,” Group Captain Cluff said.

“As the traditional owners of this land our close relationship with the Worimi people, together with our open communication has meant that we have learnt much and together we are one community.”

Following the official opening of the South Gate, NAIDOC week celebrations continued as RAAF Base Williamtown hosted Worimi community members at a special event on Base, attended by personnel and staff.

The event included the opportunity to view local Indigenous arts and crafts, engage in cultural dance activities and come together to share in the traditional food of the Worimi people.


Members of the ‘Birraway’ dance group perform traditional dances for guests at the official opening of the new south gate at RAAF Base Williamtown. Photo by CPL Craig Barrett.


Walking through the new south gate at RAAF Base Williamtown for the first time were (from left) Senior Australian Defence Force Officer at RAAF Williamtown, Group Captain Peter Cluff, Worimi Elders Uncle John Ridgeway, OAM, Uncle Neville Lilley and Base Manager, Mary-Anne Mellor. Photo by CPL Craig Barrett.

One thought on “RAAF Base Williamtown celebrates NAIDOC Week

  1. It’s great to see ADF Members celebrating NAIDOC week with the local iIndigenous community’ , it’s a shame that not all of the Service suppliers that work beside ADF Personnel don’t respect the culture the same way

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