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Lorraine Hatton found a great career and lifestyle in the Army

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Indigenous woman in black jacket and white blouse sits in a wall in a park. In the background are trees and grass.
Lorraine Hatton OAM
4 Oct 2019

Lorraine Hatton OAM, a Quandamooka woman from North Stradbroke Island, served in the Army for 20 years achieving all her goals including obtaining the rank of Warrant Officer.

‘I would definitely recommend the military to young Indigenous people because it’s a great lifestyle and a healthy lifestyle as well,’ Lorraine said.

‘Indigenous people are very family orientated and the army, to me, was a big family.’

Lorraine was honoured with the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the Indigenous community on Australia Day 2019.

She continues to serve her community through the Preston Campbell Foundation and is currently the Co-Chair of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dedicated Memorial Committee.

But getting to where she is today was not as straight forward as some might have thought.

In 1986, Lorraine applied to join the Queensland Police Force, something unusual for a young Indigenous woman back then. Unfortunately, her application was rejected because she’d only completed high school to Year 10.  

Undeterred, she applied to join the army as a stepping stone to the police force but they rejected her application for the same reason.

‘Because I was so determined to get a career in that type of work, I actually joined the Army Reserves,’ Lorraine said.

‘I spent 10 months in the Army Reserves in recruiting and I got to know all the regular Army recruiting guys. One day I said I’m thinking about joining and they said, ‘Yeah Lorraine, come on in.’

At first, members of her family weren’t entirely supportive of her decision but Lorraine’s father had served in World War II. His service was the reason she joined.

‘Even though I was planning to do the minimum time of 3 years in the Army, I liked it so much, I decided to stay,’ Lorraine said.

Life and service in the Army is unlike the day-to-day experiences of most Australians. It changes those who enter and Lorraine views those changes as positive.

‘After 20 years of growing up in that environment with all your peers and because of the type of job or role that you have to do, of course it’s going to change you, especially when you deploy overseas,’ Lorraine said.

Retirement from the Army didn’t mean retirement from work for Lorraine. She has been goal driven her whole life and with plenty of energy, she is looking well into the future.

‘In 10 years’ time, we would have completed Queensland’s first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Memorial for Veterans,’ she said.

‘I’d still like to be working for the Preston Campbell Foundation. I’d still like to be doing work for my community of North Stradbroke Island because I’m a director on one of the boards for the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation.’

‘And I plan to still do a lot of work with the Indigenous Pathways Programs for the military.’

Find out more

The Preston Campbell Foundation supports programs and opportunities which inspire success by connecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with their culture, sense of place and well-being.

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