This National Reconciliation Week will prove extra special for Corporal (CPL) Joey Hull this year, thanks to his role as a Regional Compliance Officer (RCO) with the Air Warfare Centre’s Air Force Test Ranges Squadron (AFTRSQN).
An Elder with the Arabuna people in South Australia’s far north, CPL Hull returned home to Port Augusta on May 24 after spending five weeks at Woomera in support of a Defence trial.
This marked 12 months and more than 100 days on the RCO Program for CPL Hull, who joined in April last year to support AFTRSQN’s Compliance Management Flight in providing compliance patrols and security of the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA).
He said he was proud to be part of a program that provided the opportunity to share his mob’s history, culture and language, which was what Reconciliation was all about.
“Being employed in the Air Force means that I can not only learn from them but teach them about my culture, which also opens up doors in my country and that’s something that I really want to do,” CPL Hull said.
“I’m excited that I can showcase my culture, because the better we can teach it, the better it is for all of us. Our culture is huge and it’s alive – you could be sitting here for the next 40,000 years learning about the beliefs and stories we are told.”
He said he was also thrilled to be playing a key role in building relationships between Defence and the local Aboriginal communities.
“I believe it’s a two way process,” CPL Hull said. “We’ve got to build our bridges together and walk hand in hand across them, which is what we are doing with this program and it’s fantastic.
“I’m a man that’s connected to nearly nine different Aboriginal groups so I can go just about anywhere [within the WPA] as I’ve got that rapport with my extended family.
“Even though I’ve got those connections, to actually get into uniform and work together with the Air Force to show local communities what we are doing is great because the interest out there is phenomenal.”
The father of nine and grandfather of many said he has loved every minute in uniform.
“I’m so excited to be working with Defence that I really wish I could have done it when was younger,” he said.
“Applying for this job has meant new challenges and I love to be challenged so the Air Force has given me this. It’s really built up my morale and made me feel that somebody is still interested in what I do and what I know.
“It’s also been great to be able to encourage my grandchildren to not lose sight of what you can achieve, because if I can do something like this, so can they.”
FSGT Stuart Meddings, SNCOIC of the Compliance Management Flight, recently posted into the position at Woomera and was looking forward to working with CPL Hull and his counterparts on the RCO program.
“The RCOs work with us and assist us with freedom of movement throughout the WPA, identifying sites of cultural significance and helping with Defence activities within the WPA, so they play an important role,” FSGT Meddings said.
“For example, if we are setting up a telemetry site where the technicians need to measure the area, we’ll take the RCOs out with the elders who assist with understanding of what is occurring.
“It’s a great program as it helps the coexistence of the WPA in a massive way, and I’m really fortunate to be part of that.”
By Simone Liebelt via Air Force News.