It was a different welcome for Aunty Lorraine Hatton at the Australian Army’s Land Warfare Centre (LWC) in Canungra, Queensland.

Having completed training there years earlier to attain the rank of Warrant Officer Class Two, she returned as the new Army Indigenous Elder. 

“It started off being picked up by two Warrant Officers in a staff car, I felt so spoilt,” Aunty Lorraine said.

The last time she was at LWC was to complete the predecessor of the Warrant Officer and Non-Commissioned Officer Academy – Army (WONCO-A) training program in 2001.

“It was interesting to see how core issues at training may not have changed significantly, but the delivery methods truly have,” Aunty Lorraine said.

“When the day was over, my left arm was not as sore as it was last time I was there, when I was carrying manuals and the like in my echelon bag or – as we referred to it back then – my struggle bag.”

Aunty Lorraine was appointed Army’s second Indigenous Elder by the Chief of Army earlier this year.

She retired from the Army’s Royal Australian Signals Corps in 2007 after 20 years of distinguished service, which culminated in her attaining the rank of Warrant Officer Class Two. 

Her return to LWC gave her a chance to meet the soldiers who are training the next generation of Warrant Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers.

This was my first engagement as Army’s Indigenous Elder and it was important for me to break bread with the soldiers there.

“This was my first engagement as Army’s Indigenous Elder and it was important for me to break bread with the soldiers there,” Aunty Lorraine said.

“A good communicator is a good listener, so I truly had my binungs [ears] open.

“One of the main points raised was how can the units engage with community. I hope I assisted there and have opened networks for them.” 

Aunty Lorraine was then joined by the commandant of LWC, Colonel Arran Hassell, the Commanding Officer of WONCO-A, Lieutenant Colonel Di Grey, and the commanding officer of the Defence Force School of Intelligence, Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Robins.

“It was a privilege to welcome Aunty Lorraine back to the Land Warfare Centre,” Colonel Hassell said.

“Hearing about her connection to country, passion for Indigenous affairs and experience as a soldier was invaluable for all of us as leaders.”

Aunty Lorraine’s new role will see her engage soldiers and Indigenous communities, advise the Chief of Army and tell the story of her mob, the Ngughi/Noonuccal people.

She is looking forward to visiting Army’s establishments around the nation and eventually returning to Canungra.

Information on the Defence Indigenous pathways program can be found at: https://defence.gov.au/APSCareers/Indigenous/ADF.asp