ADF propelling Indigenous culture for NAIDOC Week

The unveiling of a special AP-3C Orion propeller blade Indigenous art piece with local Elders and community members has been the centrepiece of NAIDOC Week celebrations at RAAF Base Edinburgh. 

This propeller is the second in a series of proactive Indigenous initiatives reflecting the base’s desire to enhance its relationship with the Kaurna people and traditional land owners of the Adelaide Plains.

Local Indigenous artist Shane Cook said the story behind this painting shows his journey as a young Aboriginal man who has found himself and his culture through his art. 

“I was taken in by a welcoming community of the Adelaide Plains and have since learnt about my culture from many different community groups who are connected and support each other,” Mr Cook said.

“My hand print represents my commitment to pass on my learnings to everyone I cross paths with in my life time. My mark on the community.” 

Endorsed in 2017, the commissioning of four Indigenous artwork pieces, each to be painted on a AP-3C Orion propeller blade, will preserve the heritage of the Orion and recognise the Indigenous Lands which the aircraft operated over for 50 years.

Recently appointed Royal Australian Air Force Indigenous Liaison Officer for South Australia and Narungga, Kokatha and Kaurna custodian, Flight Lieutenant Steven Warrior, said NAIDOC is a week that highlights history and talent. 

“It’s a week of pride, celebration and recognition for the oldest living culture on the planet,” Flight Lieutenant Warrior said.

“My blood lines connect me to the first footprints to walk this nation - 22 million sunrises put me here.

“The connection our people have with the land is special, it is our identity and our legacy.”

Every year the NAIDOC national theme focuses on a different aspect of Indigenous life with this year’s theme, Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let's work together for a shared future, focused on the inclusion of Indigenous people in the decision-making for Australia’s democracy. 

“I applaud the work the Air Force and wider Defence has done to incorporate culture and empower our people,” Flight Lieutenant Warrior said.

“As an Indigenous Liaison Officer, I am honoured to be able to represent my people, incorporate our culture, educate Non-Indigenous people and most importantly, implement programs to provide opportunities for our emerging leaders.”

The first AP-3C Orion propeller was designed and painted by a local Aboriginal artist Samantha Gollan. It was unveiled during Reconciliation week earlier this year and now stands symbolically in the Sergeant’s Mess at RAAF Base Edinburgh.

“As a proud Ngarrindjeri, Kaurna Woman my totem is the lizard,” Ms Gollan said.

“This lizard is my protector, so I give you my totem to continue to protect us all as Australians, and continue to serve and protect Australian land and sea.”

The painted propeller blades project were the result of dedicated people coming together to create a beautiful legacy and speak to an enduring trust, respect and responsibility for protecting the nation. 

This collaboration project aims to educate and teach local Indigenous culture to the wider Australian Defence Force and South Australian community.