Introducing Lance Corporal Whyte a super role model for our youth
By Nicola Butler
On the 31st May 2013, a rainy day in Adelaide, the Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial Committee, Ms Marj Tripp, called on all Australians to recognise and value the service and sacrifice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and servicewomen recently.
“Reconciliation Week is a good time to recognise and value the contributions that have been made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women in our Defence Force, because recognition is an important part of reconciliation”, Ms Tripp said.
It was during this Reconciliation event, The Aboriginal Veterans Memorial & Sod Turning Ceremony that I had the pleasure of meeting a lovely young woman who quietly introduced herself to me as Lance Corporal Whyte as she took my hand and bowed her head in polite gesture.
After talking briefly to Ms Whyte I was intrigued by her story and invited her to do an interview as I wanted to find out more about exactly what she does and how she became a Lance Corporal because she is a role model for our youth and for those who wise to pursue a career in the Military.
In the spirit of recognition I share with you what Natalie had to say about her life and journey into the army:
NB Tell me about who you are and where are you from?
LCNW My name is Natalie-rose Whyte I currently serve in the Australian Regular Army in the corps of ordinance.
My people are from the coastal areas of North Queensland but most of my family, from what I know of, now reside on Palm Island which is off the coast of Townsville.
They are called the Olkolo people.
NB Tell us about your journey into military life?
LCNW Well I am 25 years old and I enlisted into the defence force on the 5th of January 2009 at the age of 21.
On completion of my recruit training I was allocated to the Royal Australian Armed Ordinance Corps and upon completion of my Initial Employment Training ( IET’s ) I was posted to Townsville at Lavarack Barracks on the 21st of July 2009 for a period of three years which was spent at 10 Force Support Battalion.
I am currently posted to 1 Combat service Support Battalion (Adelaide) and was posted here on the 16th of January 2012.
NB Where did you grow up?
LCNW I was born in Townsville however I grew up on a small farm outside of Charters Towers that produced Bowen mangoes and worked with race horses.
NB Mangoes and Racehorses, not your usual mix?
LCNW Farm life was arduous and difficult at times but the responsibilities forced on me as a child would later develop into something more as I grew into a young woman.
NB What or who motivated you to join the Army?
LCNW There is a history of members in my family who have served in the army and as a young girl I had heard of an aboriginal man who mum affectionately called “Dad Bill”.
Bill Coolburra or as others know him as “Kookaburra” served in Vietnam as one of the original tunnel rats he was posted to 3CER and 9 Field Squadron and there is a picture of him and his best friend Snowy in 9 Field’s boozer.
NB What was it about your Grandfather Bill ‘Kookaburra’ Coolburra that impressed you the most?
LCNW I was amazed by some of the stories of him but I never really understood at the time the significance of his feats.
As I got older my main focus was art and after high school I studied for a Bachelor degree in the Contemporary and Visual Arts when I was 18 years old.
I always thought about military life and it wasn’t until I had actually begun to find out where I came from and my family roots that after nearly 16 or so months I decided to stop my education and pursue a military career.
NB What made you change your career focus after starting a tertiary degree in Contemporary and Visual Arts to the Military?
LCNW Why I did this was because I lost my passion for doing the one thing that I enjoyed the most and that was art.
I had always been intrigued and curious about military life and it wasn’t until I actually met my Grandfather Bill Coolburra that I finally decided to make the best decision in my life so far and join the Defence Force.
NB What would you say to anyone out there contemplating a similar career?
LCNW The advice I’d give to anybody wanting a career in the defence force is to look into it first and find out specifically what kind of job it is you are after and just take a chance the sky is your limit.
Go at it with a level head and assertive mind, stay positive, stay focused and always have the confidence in yourselves to know you can achieve the things you want in life.
NB What do you think is the most important ingredient for success?
LCNW You gotta really want it!
NB Where to next for Lance Corporal Whyte?
LCNW I will be deploying to the MEAO (Middle East Area Of Operations) for a period of 6 to 8 months providing assistance on a logistical scale.
So basically I’ll be doing my Job as a Repair Parts Storeman except on a bigger scale.
For my next posting I hope to either go to Sydney or preferably stay here in Adelaide.
I am not too sure at the moment I’ve been enjoying my time down here so much that I haven’t really thought about it.
Update from Natalie Whyte posted on 12 December 2013: http://lateralloveaustralia.com/2013/12/12/update-from-lateral-love-ambassador-natalie-whyte/