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Photo Essay: Yarning circles bring Indigenous culture to ADF recruit training

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No.1 Recruit Training Unit (1RTU) opened a second yarning circle to inspire Indigenous cultural awareness and appreciation among staff and recruits at RAAF Base Wagga in July.

A yarning circle is a meeting place to share stories, knowledge and experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island culture. It is also a peaceful place where everyone’s voice and opinions are respected.


Local Wiradjuri Elders attended the yarning circle official opening ceremony at RAAF Base Wagga, and Indigenous recruits carried out a smoking ceremony to cleanse the area and ward off bad spirits.

The Commanding Officer of 1RTU, Wing Commander Dan Drinan, said the unit’s first yarning circle was established in 2018.

“The first yarning circle aimed to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander recruits from the Defence Indigenous pre-recruit program through the development of a connection to history and culture whilst being away from their communities. The benefits of having a yarning circle for the program quickly became apparent as it encouraged recruits to share their experiences, knowledge and stories,” WGCDR Drinan explained. 

In addition to the yarning circles, 1RTU is now working with the Air Force Senior Indigenous Leadership Circle to develop a Cultural Awareness Training (CAT) program for all Air Force recruits. The CAT program forms part of Air Force’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander “Our Place, Our Skies” strategy.



“The CAT program will seek to reinforce the importance of workforce diversity in delivering air power and highlight the unique skill sets, knowledge and perspective that Indigenous members bring to the Defence Force,” WGCDR Drinan said.

“It also raises awareness of the historical challenges and sacrifices faced by past and serving Indigenous members in their contributions to the defence of Australia.”

WGCDR Drinan said, “The yarning circles and CAT program will assist with increasing individual and collective understanding of connections to people and place, history and culture, spirit and belonging. The new yarning circle will enable more 1RTU personnel to use the space for mentoring, discussions, knowledge exchange and conflict resolution.”

WGCDR Drinan thanked Gavin Garvie’s Spotless Land Management Services Team for their support during the construction of the yarning circle and Mark Sadler for providing important cultural advice.

The opening of the most recent yarning circle highlights Air Force’s ongoing commitment to developing Indigenous cultural awareness.

For a look at the ceremony, please scroll through the gallery above.

Photo Essay: Yarning circles bring Indigenous culture to ADF recruit training
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