Indigenous champion celebrates first year with Air Force

Air Force Indigenous Liaison Officer Flight Lieutenant Steve Warrior has introduced initiatives and programs to further strengthen the ADF's relationship with Indigenous communities in South Australia.
Air Force Indigenous Liaison Officer Flight Lieutenant Steve Warrior has introduced initiatives and programs to further strengthen the ADF's relationship with Indigenous communities in South Australia.

Air Force Indigenous Liaison Officer (ILO) Flight Lieutenant Steve Warrior, from Ardrossan, is making a huge difference in his first year on the job at RAAF Base Edinburgh.

Reflecting on National Reconciliation Week, Flight Lieutenant Warrior said it was a significant time to reflect on the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in this country.

"This year's theme 'in this together' speaks truly as both the good and bad times impact us as a country regardless of your cultural background," he said.

"An example of this is the current pandemic which has had an evidential impact on all Australians.

"Having an open minded approach to reflect on the past mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and showing commitment and effort to build relationships and with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will make a difference in the future."

During Flight Lieutenant Warrior's 12 months in uniform he has introduced numerous initiatives and programs to further strengthen the ADF's relationship with Indigenous communities in South Australia.

The ILOs are central to establishing and maintaining close personal rapport with Elders, leaders and members of the community.

"The biggest motivation for me to join Air Force was the opportunity to incorporate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and implement new initiatives," Flight Lieutenant Warrior said.

"Being a local Aboriginal man in uniform empowers me to mentor our younger generation, and also enhance our presence within Defence.

"This provides our people with a unique skillset and level of resilience which is why keeping that connection to culture and country is so vital.

"It gives us a sense of belonging, pride and will ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is a part of Air Force."

In Indigenous communities, trust is built from maintaining a continuous relationship, which is what the ILO role develops and fosters.

"It is known that our culture is the oldest living culture in the world, having survived severe adversity," he said.

"The ILO network is diverse and we have connected really well. We are passionate about who we are, our cultures, and provide guidance and support to one another."

Air Force Indigenous Liaison Officer Flight Lieutenant Steve Warrior, pictured right, has introduced programs to strengthen the ADF's relationship with Indigenous communities in South Australia.

Air Force Indigenous Liaison Officer Flight Lieutenant Steve Warrior, pictured right, has introduced programs to strengthen the ADF's relationship with Indigenous communities in South Australia.

Even during these uncertain times with COVID-19, the ILO network continue to build on engagement initiatives for 2020 and beyond.

This will include sporting and leadership programs provided to schools and Indigenous organisations, as well as implementing an awards event to acknowledge efforts of Indigenous military members that are excelling within their roles and units for cultural engagements.

"The inclusiveness and opportunity to represent Aboriginal people is what I enjoy most about my role," Flight Lieutenant Warrior said.

"Also having worked across most of the units at RAAF Base Edinburgh, it has really opened my eyes to the opportunities that exist in Air Force. I would encourage my family and friends to consider it as an employer of choice.

"As an officer, I've learnt that you have a great responsibility to both your chain of command, your peers and your local community.

"Ideally I would like to become a P-8A Poseidon pilot, not only to benefit me and my family, but it would influence the local Indigenous kids that if they're willing to work hard they can achieve anything."

Air Force recently launched three significant policies - Defence Reconciliation Action Plan 2019-2022, Our Place, our Skies, and Common Ground 2019-2028.

These policies demonstrate Defence's road map to contributing to a Whole of Government approach to Closing the Gap while enhancing capability, diversity and commitment to local Indigenous communities across Australia.

This story Indigenous champion celebrates first year with Air Force first appeared on The Recorder.