Steven Warrior
Flight Lieutenant
Indigenous Liaison Officer
Royal Australian Air Force

As an Aboriginal man, it is important for me to know and acknowledge who I am and where I come from. I am a proud Kaurna/Narungga/ Kokatha man. I grew up on Narungga Country, the Yorke Peninsula of South Australia.

After completing high school, I moved to Adelaide and worked as an Aboriginal Community Education Officer for over eight years. Many of the families I worked with experienced intergenerational trauma from the past mistreatments of our people, and it was very rewarding to see their resilience shine through to achieve success.

When I was presented the opportunity to take up a role as an Indigenous Liaison Officer for the Air Force, I said yes! I was inspired by strong role models in my family and community. My great-grandfather volunteered and served in WW1, my great grandfather was a champion footballer who won five medals whilst working on railways in the mid-north and my great nanna who raised 12 children. My elders achieved great things at a time when our people did not have the most basic human rights. I strive always to follow their example. I am now a Royal Australian Air Force Flight Lieutenant, former Indigenous Liaison Officer (ILO) for RAAF Base Edinburgh and broader South Australia. I was the first full-time commissioned officer to be appointed to the role.

I am posted on Kaurna Country at RAAF Edinburgh, home to the Air Warfare Centre and our Poseidon P-8A maritime patrol aircraft. My role as ILO is to engage with the local Kaurna people and the wider community, to provide cultural guidance to the Base commanders’ personnel and immerse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. I am passionate about traditional culture and dedicated to inspiring our young First Nations members and improving cultural understanding amongst all defence personnel. Through our cultural education and engagement programs, I aim for First Nations culture to become everyday business for all service personnel and to build reconciliation.

In 2022, I was honoured to conduct the smoking ceremony at the first Aboriginal-led Dawn Service at the National War Memorial in Adelaide. I am an Aboriginal artist and have designed the artwork representing a significant number of organisations in South Australia. My entry in the 2022 Napier Waller Art Prize, ‘Taingiwilta Ngayirdila’ – strength in the air’, was highly commended. My painting tells the story of the RAAF’s place in Culture and Country and the connections and sacrifices made by service personnel.

A core component of my ILO role is to reach out through schools, sporting bodies, and the wider community to be a role model for young First Nations people. This motivates me to showcase the great opportunities for employment, self-development, and cultural recognition that service in the Royal Australian Air Force offers our future First Nations leaders. My hope is that they will be inspired to take up their own careers in the RAAF and achieve great things in life for themselves, their community, and our country.

My role as Indigenous Liaison Officer is for three years; after that, I aim to become a Legal Officer. I walk out on the tarmac now and see Piturru (Author of Thunder) taking off on their missions. I’m excited to know that, through my efforts and the efforts of the ILOs who will come after me, keen young First Nations men and women will be up there strong in their cultural values, reaching for the skies protecting our traditional lands.