SES hosts local Indigenous leaders
Representatives from NSW State Emergency Service (NSW SES) along with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community celebrated NAIDOC Week with a traditional smoking ceremony on July 4 at the NSW SES City of Sydney Unit.
Aunty Donna Ingram gave the Welcome to Country, noting the importance of NAIDOC celebrations in highlighting the rich and diverse cultures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
SES Local Controller Robert Cooper acknowledged the large local Indigenous community, noting that a number of SES volunteers are of a proud Aboriginal heritage. He added that recognition of Indigenous identity as well as resistance to injustice were just the first steps in the process of strengthening ties between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and finding ways to better promote and build disaster resilience.
Local Indigenous leader Les De Jong conducted the smoking ceremony, explaining how the ancient custom is used to cleanse, ward off bad spirits, acknowledge ancestors and pay respect to country.
NSW SES Community Liaison Officer Cat Sweeny said: “The refreshing thing about this initiative is that it was entirely driven by our volunteers at a grassroots level.”
The event concluded with the unveiling of a plaque acknowledging and paying respect to the Gadigal people of the Eora nation on whose traditional lands and waters the NSW SES proudly serves.