LOCAL NAIDOC Week celebrations kicked off on Monday with a touching and emotional ceremony at the memorial garden at Biripi's aged care facility, Marrangbah Cottage.
The theme of this year's NAIDOC celebrations is 'serving country, centenary and beyond' and Monday's event was a great way for locals to share their personal and family stories about defending and fighting for our country in both wars and peace keeping missions.
There is an increasing push for greater recognition of the military contribution by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout history, with indigenous men and women having served in all conflicts and peace keeping missions that Australia has been involved in.
A range of guest speakers shared their stories with the large crowd, including Uncle Dave Russell and his sister Sueanne, on behalf of their mother Suzie and her brothers, as well as Uncle Will Paulson and Uncle Ray Saunders.
"We need to recognise our heroes and there's much more to be done," said Uncle Will Paulson.
He went on to say it is about acceptance, gratitude and reflection and paying respect to all Indigenous Diggers.
Ray Saunders recalled his time with the Royal Australian Air Force and said one of the hardest parts of being away was missing his friends and family, noting the importance of letters from home and urging people to send letters to our military personnel.
President of the Taree RSL sub branch, Bob Coombes performed the Ode of Remembrance and said he was honoured to be invited to be a part of such a special day.
"It is both a privilege and an honour to represent Taree sub branch and I'm proud to be a part of this memorial in this sacred place," Bob said.
The week will be marked with many other events across the district.
More photos click of photos from Monday's event can be found by clicking here.