After five years as Army’s Indigenous Elder, and as he approaches his 80th birthday, Uncle Roy Mundine is stepping back from official duties, leading to the appointment of Aunty Lorraine Hatton.

This came as a shock to Aunty Lorraine, who was so nervous when she received the letter she had her husband open it.

“I know it’s a very prestigious position, so I was extremely honoured the Chief would entrust me with this appointment,” Aunty Lorraine said.

“I’ve known Uncle Roy for a long time and he’s such a lovely man, so I have some big shoes to fill, but I look forward to the challenge.”

Aunty Lorraine served 20 years as an operations signaller and radio operator in the Royal Australian Army Signals Corps, before retiring in 2007 as a Warrant Officer – Class 2.

The role of Army Indigenous Elder focuses on engaging both soldiers and Indigenous communities, advising the Chief of Army and storytelling to soldiers.

“Education is a key perspective, but not just that; it’s about culture and history too,” Aunty Lorraine said.

Her work includes mentoring young women for the Preston Campbell Foundation and she is patron of the Indigenous Youth Mobility Pathways Project, helping young people from remote locations attend school.

Aunty Lorraine is also the chair of Queensland’s first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander memorial for veterans and serving members. 

“I think it’s the combination of my Army career and my involvement with community that will allow me to do the role of Indigenous Elder well,” she said.

The appointment coincides with National Reconciliation Week, which encourages all Australians to further their education on history, culture and shared achievements.