RAAF sign idea takes flight

ROULETTES and the five Gunaikurnai tribe symbols are featured on a new sign at RAAF Base, East Sale.

The Indigenous welcome and acknowledgment sign at the entry to the base was unveiled on Friday morning.

RAAF Base, East Sale, senior Australian Defence Force officer, Group Captain Gregory Frisina, and air base executive officer, Wing Commander James Svede, unveiled the sign alongside Aunty Beryl Booth from Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Corporation and local Indigenous artist Justin Kennedy.

The base has enjoyed a positive relationship with the local Indigenous community, so as a gesture of solidarity, an initiative was undertaken to develop Indigenous signs at the entry to the base.

The artist behind the design, Mr Kennedy, said he had worked with RAAF Base, East Sale, officials during the past 12 months to design the Indigenous welcome and acknowledgement sign.

An artist of 17 years, Mr Kennedy said he spent much time agonising over the design, wanting to ensure it encapsulated the connection between the Gunaikurnai tribes and RAAF Base, East Sale.

Mr Kennedy said he would often wake up in the middle of the night with ideas for the design.

Group Captain Frisina said Mr Kennedy had done a wonderful job.

He said the two year project had been conducted under the watchful eyes of Wing Commander Svede and Mr Kennedy.

Group Captain Frisina said this project was part of the whole Defence Reconciliation Program which began in 2008.

“Part of that was about honouring the traditional land owners across Australia with signs like this across the nation,” Group Captain Frisina said.

“This is one of many that we have around defence establishments.

“I know we have another one in Wagga, they just recently erected theirs, and we have another one in Perth as well.

“As Wing Commander Svede alluded to, it’s about honouring the past (acknowledging) that we can’t just take the land, we have to ask permission.

“I was very pleased today to get the welcome to country from Aunty Beryl and Aunty Rachel Mullet.”