Lateika Matiaha (nee Smith)
Gumbaynggirr (Nambucca Heads, Mid North Coast New South Wales)
Leading Seaman
Royal Australian Navy

Australian Operational Service Medal – Border Protection 2014
Australian Defence Medal 2008

To serve is to be a part of a proud tradition that connects me to my past and my future. I come from a strong family history in Defence. My Mum was in the Navy, and all 3 of my brothers served in the Navy and Army. I have eight and 8 cousins who serve and are currently serving in the Navy and Army. In 2004, at the age of 17, I made the decision to follow in my family’s footsteps and join the Australian Defence Force. I joined as a Communications and Information Systems Sailor. I conducted my training at HMAS Cerberus, learning radio and satellite communications, morse code via flashing light and flag signalling before I was posted to the  Defence Communications Station in Sydney. I had my very  first sea posting on HMAS Melbourne. During these postings, I had the opportunity to consolidate my training and gain promotion to Able Seaman. In 2008, I returned to HMAS Cerberus to complete by intermediate course before getting promoted to Leading Seaman in 2009. I was then posted to HMAS Ballarat before moving to Cairns, where I gained experience on hydrographic surveying ships, such as HMAS Leeuwin and Melville. I then volunteered to be posted to Defence Force Recruiting in Parramatta, where I was a career counsellor and part of the career promotion team. I then gained a position at Defence Force Recruiting in Wollongong as an Indigenous Recruitment Officer, working on the Indigenous Pre-Recruitment courses (IPRC). After 11 years of service, I decided to end my time in the Navy; I then gained a role with TAFE NSW, where I was still able to work closely on the IPRC, assisting in the organisation of the TAFE component. I then worked for Westpac as an Indigenous Careers consultant where I helped to facilitate the Indigenous Traineeship Program within Westpac. For the last six-and-a-half years six 1/2yrs I have been working for Maxima Training Group, where I have been a consultant, Program Manager, and now the Recruitment Services Manager, overseeing the Indigenous Employment Team, traineeships, apprenticeships and our labour/permanent recruitment team for Queensland, Northern Territory, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory. I have a strong passion for helping mob gain meaningful employment opportunities.