LIEUTENANT Colonel Eileen Hall was last week appointed as the Australian Army’s first Command Cultural Advisor during a ceremony at Wujal Wujal.
A Bama woman and former CEO of the Wujal Wujal council, Lieutenant Colonel Hall has worked across many levels of state and local government as well as the not for profit and private sectors.
With her appointment to the Regional Force Surveillance Group, Lieutenant Colonel Hall will be responsible for providing consistent appropriate authoritative cultural advice, and building and maintaining relationships with interagency partners and Indigenous communities through Australia.
The RFSG provides a long-range surveillance capability throughout northern Australia, covers 52 per cent of the Australian land mass, and encompasses hundreds of Indigenous communities.
Lieutenant Colonel Hall said that her appointment was a sign that the army was increasingly recognising and seeking out the skills and knowledge of Indigenous people.
“The appointment itself is amazing but it also signals that the army is now recognising the diversity in their ranks enhances their capability and that’s a big signal,” she said.
“I think they identified early, that because it has nearly 250-odd different Indigenous nations and language groups nested within that area, they needed to look at something a bit more unique.”
Lieutenant Colonel Hall said the army had helped her build a range of skills and provided an excellent career path for Indigenous people.
“I originally enlisted with 51st while I was still CEO at Wujal Wujal; that was back in August 2017. I guess you could say our community was struggling, a lot of the First Nation councils don’t have a revenue base, so in terms of training dollars you are limited,” she said.
“Joining the army helped me with not only those hard skills but the soft skills in terms of determination, confidence and being able to back yourself.”
She said it was also a two-way street, with the army benefitting from the generational knowledge of the land that Indigenous people have, particularly in terms of operating in remote areas for extended periods of time, which is what the RFSG specialises in.
“The recruitment and retention of first nations people in the army not only plays an important role in terms of closing the gap, but it also recognises that the army can’t be as lethal as it can be, unless it taps into the untapped knowledge that’s there,” she said.
Lieutenant Colonel Hall, who is now one of the highest ranked Indigenous soldiers in the army, also acknowledged the ongoing support she received.
“I want to thank everybody, my Elders, my colleagues in all the state, territory and federal government agencies, fellow soldiers – but particularly those families who have soldiers that are currently enlisted,” she said.
“I want to say thank you to them for their generosity of time and knowledge and say I’m so appreciative of all they have done.”