Lisa Jackson Pulver is a Wiradjuri woman and this interview is part of the ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women Who Served Their Country’ project. Lisa is a senior research academic and Air Force Reservist as well as Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs in Air Force. In the excerpt below she talks about her commitment to military life, and the promotion of training for Indigenous youth and cross-cultural understanding within the Air Force.
I always wanted to join the military. My dad was a ‘RAAFie’ [member of the Royal Australian Air Force], he served in the war. My grandfather served in the army; my cousins, I’ve got a couple of them that were army people; my mother’s father died in World War II serving the navy. I tried to join up in the late ‘70s and then I tried again in the mid ‘80s, and I tried again in the mid ‘90s and that started to get some traction. When I started my PhD I went along and said “Please, please, please, please” and they said “You can join the Reserve” and so I got an offer and a position in the Specialist Reserve for Air Force and I’m still there although I’ve been posted into a position outside of what my specialisation is and that is as the Director of Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Affairs in Air Force. So now we’re running programmes for young people, youth, on active military bases, give them a total immersion experience or as much of an experience as you can have in four nights. We support programmes with the Directorate of Indigenous Affairs, the IPRC, the Indigenous Youth Pre-Recruitment Course, and that’s a five, six week programme. I provide a lot of awareness training across the senior leadership team so I talk to people about why it’s important that we look at diversity as a real thing in Air Force because it’s all about being capable as an organisation to do what we need to do, what the Australian public needs us to do and I see serving in the military as being no different from any of our warriors committed to country. A lot of my work is around explaining that and offering understanding of what that means and why they need to look at Aboriginal people as being an integral part of how it is we serve on this country. We’ve been here for sixty thousand years so we know something of it, and we’d like to share that. That’s my job.