In 2014, NAIDOC Week honours all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who fought in defence of country.
At the Department of Housing, an Opening Ceremony was held at Head Office in East Perth beginning with a flag-raising ceremony and a Welcome to Country performed by Dr Richard Walley. The ceremony also included representatives of the military services and a rendition of the Last Post.
The Department is a major provider of housing services to Aboriginal communities across Western Australia, including social and affordable housing in cities and towns throughout the State and in remote communities.
At the NAIDOC opening ceremony, Department of Housing Director General, Grahame Searle spoke about this year’s NAIDOC week theme and the importance of honouring of Indigenous Service personnel, who often went without appropriate recognition of their service. He acknowledged that this well-deserved recognition is long overdue.
Aboriginal Vietnam veteran and Department of Housing tenant, Mr Richard Bligh, also addressed staff attending the ceremony, speaking about his experiences as a returned serviceman as well as those of his uncles who also served with the Australian Army during World War II. He also spoke about his voluntary work with not-for-profit group Honouring Indigenous War Graves Program.
In the past, Indigenous defence service was often carried out under conditions that were quite different to their non-Indigenous counterparts. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans were denied full citizenship and lived under 'Protection Acts' - laws that imposed strict control over almost every aspect of their lives.
The Department of Housing is playing its part in building reconciliation. It is focused on building better relationships and understanding as it engages with its Indigenous workforce, tenants and business partners.
Mr Searle sent a video message to Department staff across the State as part of the Opening Ceremony for NAIDOC Week 2014, which is available here.
For more information about NAIDOC Week 2014, visit the NAIDOC website.