Steven Bailey
Sempol and Saibai Islands, Torres Strait Islands – Ka Ka Law Tribe
Air Force Security
Royal Australian Air Force

Australian Defence Medal


I was born Box Hill Victoria…a long way from the Torres Strait where my mother from.  My dad, who is Radiographer…and a white man, met my mother who was one of the first Torres Strait Islander women to train to be a nurse at Mater Hospital in Brisbane. But they didn’t Brisbane, they met in Port Moresby when Dad was a part of an Australian Commonwealth Government initiative to take medical services for tuberculosis patients to remote communities, often difficult to access, across Australia, Torres Strait and Papua New Guinea.

I was born in 1962, the same year that Indonesia took in interest in Papua. As a result, my parents went down to Melbourne to have me, leaving me in the care of my paternal grandmother. I was isolated from my culture due to racism, but my mother took a strong role in giving me an understanding who I am. Her grandfather was Fijian, and sailed using the stars to travel to Saibai Island where he met my maternal grandmother.

My paternal grandfathers and Uncles served in the Transport Corps, and so I always wanted to serve. As a kid I had watched lots of American war movies that had Dog Handler soldiers in them, and I thought to myself – that’s what I want to be, and I was lucky enough to get my wish. I enlisted in 1980, at eighteen years of age, into the Royal Australian Air Force  as a Dog Handler and served almost twelve years. I was the first Torres Strait Islander Dog Handler in the Australian Defence Force. I left Defence because I wanted to stay more hands on than behind a desk. I am very proud that my son, Brenton, who served in 2nd /14th Calvary Lighthorse.

The Airforce give me their 1,000 dog, his name was Satan 1000, and he was my partner. His name matched his personality, and as a German Sheppard, he was an excellent hunter. He had an incredible wind sent and could locate threats with accuracy. He served for five years after his training and when he got older and his hips let him down, I held his paw when he was given the “green dream”. It was the saddest day of my life, I watched his deep green eyes fade to grey as he left this world.