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Defence-commissioned Indigenous mural a symbol of mutual respect

Callan Morse -

An Indigenous mural by a local artist has been unveiled by the Australian Defence Force in Brisbane.

The artwork, produced by local artist Chris McGregor, was officially launched by HMAS Moreton, acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land and waters the base operates on.

Mr McGregor conducted a Welcome to Country, followed by a smoking ceremony, before presenting his artwork to a gathering of Navy personnel and families.

He said the mural's depictions have deep connections to the area.

"The region used to be referred to as Toogoolawah, meaning in the shape of a heart which references the shape of the rainforest region, which was cared for by the local peoples," Mr McGregor said.

"The murals depict two significant sea creatures of the area, including 'jahloo-bila' (dolphin) and 'boobahyan' (sea turtle), animals which provided the local Moreton Bay Yuggera clans with spiritual guidance and sources of food."

Mr McGregor said the Deebing dance, which is also represented on the mural acknowledges the longstanding tradition.

"The Yuggera dancers depicted around the outside of the murals acknowledges the Deebing dance our family still do, to this day," Mr McGregor said.

For Indigenous people, understanding the local ecosystems is key to survival, fulfilling the responsibility of custodianship and sustaining the environment for future generations.

Lieutenant Commander Brauns said the handover and launch of the mural was a significant occasion.

"This mural shows the commitment HMAS Moreton has to the local Yuggera peoples, because the families of the Yuggera language group have a strong cultural and spiritual connection to the country," Lieutenant Commander Brauns said.

"We recognise it is important that for genuine reconciliation to take place, a true acknowledgement of the traditional and colonial histories (should be) told respectively.

"This provides our future generations with a richer sense of culture, community and belonging."

The opening was followed by an honours and awards ceremony, during which two Federation Stars were presented to Rear Admiral Plath and Captain Michael Beard.

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