Corporal Iliona Mathers said his Indigenous culture helped build the right mindset for a successful military career.
“In military life, you cannot act alone; you need teamwork,” he said.
“Our Indigenous culture is the same; if one person is weak, you support them and bring everybody back together to benefit the community.”
Corporal Mathers is an electronics systems technician deployed with Force Support Element-10 on Operation Accordion.
Force Support Element-10 provides theatre logistic support to sustain Australian Defence Force operations across the Middle East region, including Operations Highroad, Manitou and Okra.
Corporal Mathers' ancestors are the Yorta Yorta people from the Murray River, near Swan Hill.
Anytime he is near the Murray River, he will swim as a way to reconnect with his ancestors.
His feelings on reconciliation echo the Australian Defence Force theme for NAIDOC Week this year; working for a shared future.
“If we don’t speak up together then no one is going to know of the struggle that we have endured,” he said.
He also encouraged his two children to speak up, help others and protect those that need protecting.
“It's important for me to remain strong for myself, my kids and my culture,” he said.