Private Zion Connors, from Inverell, near Coffs Harbour, is spending National Reconciliation Week far from home in the Middle East region.
He is serving on Operation Accordion as a unit storeman.
As part of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG-10) Rotation 10, Private Connors provides logistics support to other operations throughout Middle East.
He said he felt honoured to be able to share his culture and heritage with other deployed Defence Force personnel during National Reconciliation Week.
“I am a proud Koori Gumbayngirr man. I am also related to people from the Dunghutti, Gamilaraay (Kamilaroi) and Awabakal tribes,” Private Connors said.
“My culture is important to me because I know I’m part of a rich culture and heritage.
“No matter where I go, even here in the Middle East, I’ll always see an uncle or aunty, brother or sister and sit down and have a cuppa and yarn.
“We don’t have to be directly related but that shows how close a lot of us are and I think that’s amazing.”
On May 27, a National Reconciliation Week ceremony was held at Australia’s main operating base in the Middle East.
“National Reconciliation Week for me means to learn about our shared cultures, histories and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation for all Australians,” Private Connors said.
He joined the Army for a career and to inspire his younger brothers.
“It was so inspiring to see the service men and women at the military information sessions at school. The way they spoke about their job, the way they held themselves to a high standard, and their uniforms were pretty cool too,” Private Connors said.
“I also wanted to be a role model for my three younger brothers because our two eldest brothers weren’t around for us. I needed them to know anything is possible - you just have to want it.
“It makes me feel proud to come home and hear mates and family say, ‘Wow, you’ve changed in such a short time’. From a fry cook at a local fast food shop to enlisting in the Army was a huge jump for me. Saying that I’m proud would be an understatement.”