After nearly a decade in the role, Uncle Harry Allie, BEM, has handed over his official duties as Air Force’s Indigenous Elder to Aunty Deborah Booker at RAAF Base Glenbrook. The role of the Air Force Indigenous Elder focuses on advising the Chief of Air Force on Indigenous cultural matters and engaging and mentoring aviators. It also provides a key cultural link between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and Air Force.

Aunty Deb said she was surprised but very proud to learn she would be offered the appointment. “I feel honoured and privileged that the Chief of Air Force would place his trust in me with this appointment,” Aunty Deb said. “As the first dedicated service Elder ever appointed, Uncle Harry has played a crucial role in progressing cultural changes within Air Force and I am excited to build on his wonderful work and be a role model and advocate for all of our aviators.”

Aunty Deb has served in the Air Force for more than 13 years supporting Indigenous recruitment and community engagement activities, including Exercise Kummundoo, which promotes dental health services to remote Indigenous communities. As a role model and leader, she has also been instrumental in shaping the Indigenous Pre-Recruitment Course to prepare Indigenous young Australians for Australian Defence Force service. She is an advocate for numerous health, youth and community initiatives and continues to be an influential voice in shaping national government policies on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment, education and community engagement. Most recently, Aunty Deb took up a role as a senior project officer with Ninti One, the National Best Practice Unit for Tackling Indigenous Smoking.

As the Air Force’s Indigenous Elder, Aunty Deb’s aim is to help bring people together so they can learn from each other. “I think we can all make a difference individually, but together we can move mountains,” she said.

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