Tina Elliott
Gubbi Gubbi descendant
Chief Petty Officer
Medical Clinical Manager
Project Officer Indigenous
Royal Australian Navy

Australian Service Medal with clasp
Australian Operational Service Medal – Border Protection
Defence Long Service Medal with 2 clasps
Australian Defence Medal
United States Meritorious Unit Commendation

I am a proud Murri woman from the Gubbi Gubbi people, raised in Toowoomba by a family with a strong military background. My father, a Murri Elder, Warrant Officer Class Two Edward Charles (Ted) Blacker, served 25 years with 7 Signals Regiment, previously known as 101 Wireless, as a Signalman Specialist. His tours included Vietnam, Borneo, Vientiane, Laos and Malaya. He received a bravery award from the British SAS and Queen Elizabeth II issued him the British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services with the British SAS during the Vietnam Conflict. He passed away at 54 years of age in 1989.  He was an extraordinary man of integrity and was remembered by many because of his professional, yet personable manner. He always gave people he met a sense of value and worth as individuals –  these are the values he raised us in, to be calm and honest. He treated his team like family and took his responsibilities to his own family and to Army in a balanced manner.

I joined the Women’s Royal Australian Navy Service (WRANS) in April 1990 to train as a Medic and was posted to Balmoral Naval Hospital in Mosman in December of that year. In my 32 years as part of the Australian Defence Force I served at several shore establishments including HMAS Watson, Harman, Stirling, Penguin, Creswell and Albatross as well as a number of Tri-Service posts such as Duntroon, Oakey and Cabarlah. My sea service includes Her Majesty’s Australian Ships Sydney, Kanimbla, Tobruk, Newcastle, Melbourne, Anzac, Choules, Arunta and Warramunga. I deployed operationally on Operation Resolute 2008, 2012, 2015 and 2016; as well deploying to ships as a health care professional for Operations Quickstep and Padang Assist 2009.

The highlight of my career was deploying internationally with a small group of 7 Royal Australian Navy healthcare providers on United States Naval Ship Mercy. USNS Mercy was sent to provide medical follow-up care to the people of Nias and Bande Aceh following the Tsunami of 2004. This work was both rewarding and humbling for me. I was very proud and fortunate not only to represent the RAN, but also to be a proud Indigenous military woman volunteering my expertise for this much needed humanitarian aid. As part of being in the RAN team on Mercy, we all received the United States Meritorious Unit Commendation for the help we provided during this time.

I served full-time as a single mother of three and was provided the opportunity over the past four years to work as the Project Officer for Navy Indigenous Affairs supporting all our Navy Indigenous members across Australia. I embraced the challenge of helping to align Indigenous cultural values with Navy strategic requirements. I enjoyed promoting elements of culture through my role, as well as being able to get out into the community to offer support and assistance for the government’s Closing the Gap agreement, raising awareness and promoting pathways into Defence.

I am deeply honoured to have had the chance to be a part of the wonderful and progressive cultural changes within the Australian Defence Force. My journey in the Australian Defence Force may have ended in 2022 after 32 years of service but my continuing journey of Closing the Gap has only just begun. In my retirement I am working with Uncle Col Watego as a Cultural Aunty providing pathways for Indigenous youth through bootcamps and workshops as well as being an instructor for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid.

Photographs of Tina’s dad supplied by her.