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10 June, 2020

Mareeba-born sailor appointed as Navy Indigenous Advisor

FROM leading his school in 1998, Mareeba local Samuel Sheppard has once again been appointed in a leadership role  as the Royal Australian Navy’s first permanent Indigenous Adviser.

By Rhys Thomas

FROM leading his school in 1998, Mareeba local Samuel Sheppard has once again been appointed in a leadership role  as the Royal Australian Navy’s full-time Indigenous Adviser.

Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Sheppard first had ideas about joining the Navy when he was still the Mareeba State High School Captain in 1998.

Now after 20 years of service with the Royal Australian Navy, the Muluridji man will speak on behalf of Indigenous Australians.

As a part of the Navy’s commitment to the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan, LCDR Sheppard’s leadership and advisory role will see him advocating for cultural awareness and implement the programs and plans within the Reconciliation Action Plan including ‘closing the gap’.

“I was really interested in involving myself in the Navy’s plans of reconciliation,” he said.

“It was something I was interested in from the very start.

“There are a lot of good programs within the reconciliation plan that I am proud to be a part of.”

LCDR Sheppard’s goal is to build better relations between the indigenous members in the navy and to help advocate for them in pursing their careers within the Navy.

“The best way to build relationships is through knowledge and understanding,” he said.

Looking back on his past self, LCDR Sheppard had some words of encouragement for his younger self that can also be directed at young Indigenous who are looking to join the Australian Defence Force.

“Enjoy it, there will be hard times ahead but take joy in the little things,” he said.

“Always be comfortable with who you are, your heritage and where you come from.

“Always be yourself.”

Now under his new role, LCDR Sheppard will be receiving advice and tutelage from one of the Navy’s Senior Indigenous Members, Commander Bert Slape.

Commander Slape has provided significant support and guidance to the Navy’s Defence Reconciliation Action Plan since 2017 – prior to this, Navy received advice on Indigenous matters from Chief Petty Officer Ray Rosendale.

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, AO, RAN welcomed LCDR Sheppard’s appointment and stated that he will be under the mentorship of Commander Slape.

“In marking this occasion, I would like to acknowledge Navy’s Senior Indigenous Member, Commander Bert Slape, who has provided significant support and guidance to lead Navy’s Defence Reconciliation Action Plan commitment since 2017,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

“As the Senior Indigenous Member in Navy, Commander Slape will continue to be active in this area by providing mentorship to Lieutenant Commander Sheppard over the coming months.”


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