The sailors and officers of Royal Australian Navy establishment HMAS Cairns welcomed the recent opening of the base’s yarning circle.

The yarning circle was developed to provide a sacred space where Indigenous members of the Australian Defence Force and wider Defence industry can safely meet to expand support networks, receive mentoring and share in cultural celebrations.

Navy Indigenous Champion Commodore Malcolm Wise officially opened the site alongside local Gimuy Walubarra Yidinji Elder Uncle Henry Fourmile, who provided a Welcome to Country and performed a smoking ceremony.

“It’s an honour to be here today to open this space for Cairns Indigenous members to meet to enhance their support networks within a traditional setting with the broader Defence community,” Commodore Wise Said.

“The Cairns yarning circle will provide an alternate space where respectful relationships can be built between Indigenous and non-Indigenous sailors and officers.”

The opening was attended by local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, uniformed members from the Navy Indigenous Development Program, 51st Far North Queensland Regiment, Director Service Delivery North Queensland and the Cairns Base Management team, EMOS Manager, Downer Defence staff and representatives from Queensland Police Service, Australian Border Force, and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.

Able Seaman Medic Aiaba-Denzel Taylor, an Ankamuthi man, spoke about the significance of the yarning circle to him.

“I like the idea of a yarning circle because it will create a place for discussion where no voice will be greater than another” Able Seaman Taylor said.

“I am an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and I am keen to learn about different traditional law of other tribes.

“I look forward to using the space to network and learn about other cultures as I believe everyone has something to share.”

The yarning circle was a collaboration between Base Management, Downer Defence and Cairns Executive.

The establishment of the site aligns with Navy’s Indigenous Action Plan and the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan, which aim to empower positive change through embracing and celebrating Indigenous culture.