Alex Houthuysen (Hill)
Yamatji Nation
Sergeant
Royal Australian Air Force

Medals
Australian Service Medal with clasp SE Asia
Defence Force Service Medal with clasp
Australian Defence Medal

Stephen Michael Hill is the name given to me by my birth mother, but immediately after my birth, I was offered up for adoption and taken away from my Mother.  When this happened, I was given another name, which I go by today. My name is Alex Houthuysen (Hill). I use my birth surname, Hill for communicating with Community. At the age of 12, I was told by my parents I had been adopted. This was a shock news to me, and sadly, I was never told about my Aboriginal heritage. However, I was extremely lucky to have been adopted by a loving family and to grow up in the hills of Kalamunda in Perth WA. I did not further pursue my history until later in life.

My brother, whom I looked up to, was in the RAAF and spoke openly about his times in the Defence Force. So, when I was old enough, I joined the Royal Australian Air Force at 17. After finishing recruit training, my first posting was to RAAF Base Richmond in NSW to train as a Life Support Fitter. I have had a variety of postings over the years, ranging from units such as the Aircraft Research Development Unit, 478 Maintenance Squadron in Malaysia, 75 Sqn. outside of Darwin, and 486 Maintenance Sqn. in NSW. My final posting was to 492 Maritime Maintenance Sqn. in Adelaide after which I retired, having served 21 years. Continuing my aviation Journey in the Airline Industry, I worked for National Jet/Cobham Aviation for another 14 years. I ran ground handling services, Life Support Systems and later aircrew emergency procedures for both the Airline and Surveillance Crews. Then, after 35 years in aviation, I retired from the industry I loved.

Not wanting to upset my parents, I was in my late thirties when I decided to contact adoption agencies to seek help finding the missing pieces of my life’s jigsaw puzzle. It was to be a significant turning point in my life, and slowly, those missing pieces began to come together into an orderly pattern. Gaining access to documents revealed I was an Aboriginal Man and a Stolen Generation statistic. This led to a conversation that would change and enrich the life of myself and my growing family and become a lifelong journey of discovering my cultural identity. The agency mentioned that they had heard my surname recently and within a month I had found my birth Mother who had also been looking to make contact and reconnect with me after thirty-eight years.

Becoming aware of my Aboriginal heritage and being part of the Stolen Generations, I then felt the need to pursue my newfound identity as a proud Aboriginal Yamatji Man from Western Australia, and what the challenge of walking in two worlds would look like. I started a short-term contract working for Tauondi Aboriginal College as a consultant. Then, looking at further options, I discovered St John’s Youth Service where I found my passion, networking with our Nation’s young people and having personal discussions around family,  identity, and what it is to be an Aboriginal person in 2024. We talk about who we are and where we have come from. We have always been here, for around 65,000 years, but it’s about how we have adapted, over that time, to climate change, the environment, and the loss of our lands. We also talk about family, the role of our Elders within the community, and what our family ties mean to us as Aboriginal people.

I am quite busy in my life. I have a beautiful wife who is a Palliative Care Nurse Consultant, with three daughters who are successful within their career pathways, one being a Principal Aboriginal Consultant, one being a Registered Nurse/Midwife and my youngest being a Hydrogeologist. I am currently Deputy Chair of the Port Adelaide Enfield Council Aboriginal Advisory Panel, Deputy Chair of Aboriginal Family Support Services and a Board Member of Aged Rights Advocacy Service (ARAS) and of Turkindi Aboriginal Information Network of SA. I am also a member of Aboriginal Veterans SA and the Veterans Advocacy Council.

I am a very passionate and strong advocate with a continuing interest in promoting the rights and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women in the shared service and sacrifice of all Australians.