Creating new bonds with good humour
Flight Lieutenant Normie Grogan is an Air Force Indigenous Liaison Officer (ILO) based in Darwin and believes a strong and robust sense of humour is essential for a role like his.
“Humour is a great tool for breaking down barriers and bringing people together. That change is a key part of my job,” Flight Lieutenant Grogan said.
“I’m one of 12 Indigenous Liaison Officers and we’re posted to all of the key Air Force bases around Australia.
“We’re responsible for providing cultural advice to commanders, driving community engagement projects and building positive relationships with elders and traditional owners.
“Indigenous ourselves, we’re strong in culture and serve as a conduit between Air Force and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around the country.
“While there’s more work to do, we’ve come a long way in building stronger relationships and increasing cultural understanding.”
Born in Cairns and the second youngest of 11 children, Flight Lieutenant Grogan is from the Kuku Yalanji and Takalak nations of Queensland.
He attended state schools in Kuranda and Mareeba, Parramatta and Trinity Bay in Cairns, and was a boarder at the Slade School in Warwick. His interest in the RAAF stems from his adolescent years.
“I was an Air Force cadet with 104 Squadron in Cairns for two years,” Flight Lieutenant Grogan said.
“Cadets had a big impact on me. I wanted to join the Air Force when I was a teenager but wasn’t successful with my application.”
After leaving school, Flight Lieutenant Grogan pursued a career in journalism, becoming the first Aboriginal cadet TV reporter for ABC Brisbane and the first Aboriginal trainee manager for ABC Radio National.
He went on to work for SBS and indigenous radio stations throughout Queensland and the Northern Territory, before changing tack and getting into counselling and community engagement.
It wasn’t until 2018 that Flight Lieutenant Grogan was able to fulfil his teenage ambition of joining the Air Force. Bringing years of valuable experience with him, he was part of the inaugural intake of ILOs spearheaded by Air Vice-Marshal Steve Roberton.
“My mates are proud of me, and I’m proud to wear the Air Force uniform, representing my family, my friends, and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Flight Lieutenant Grogan said.