Alison Sampson
Jawoyn (NT) and Wiradjuri (NSW)
Royal Australian Corps of Transport (RACT), Movements Operator
Australian Army

Australian Active Service Medal with Clasps East Timor, ICAT and Iraq 2003
Afghanistan Medal
Australia Service Medal with Clasp Solomon Islands II
Australian Defence Medal
United Nations Medal with Ribbon UNTAET
NATO Non Article 5 Medal with Clasp ISAF
The Soldier’s Medallion
Chief of the Defence Force Commendation
Australian Defence Force Commendation – Bronze
Army Combat Badge
Meritorious Unit Citation – 1st Joint Movements Group MUC (MEAO November 2001-June 2014)
Returned from Active Service Badge


Growing up, military service was a big part of my life with my dad being in the Army. I also had several aunties and uncles who had been in the Defence Force, including my Great Uncle Reginald Saunders. They either inspired or supported me in joining the Defence Force, but I somehow felt it was in my blood, and it was a natural progression for me to join.  I even joined the Army Cadets in Victoria when I was younger.

I enlisted into the Royal Australian Engineers as a Reservist in 1997 in Adelaide and was a sapper up until I joined the Army full-time in 2000 when I became a truck driver and later a movements operator.  My first posting was to Operation Gold for the 2000 Olympics, where I met my husband prior to us having three children together. I returned to the Army Reserves in 2006 and was discharged in 2012. I was fortunate to be involved in several overseas peacekeeping and warlike campaigns, including East Timor, Solomon Islands, Afghanistan and Iraq.

One of the biggest challenges for me wasn’t the long hours, remote work locations or arduous conditions, otherwise known as ‘Army life’, but it was leaving my young children at home and missing many of their milestones. This was prior to social media, so contact with family was limited. I was always an all-or-nothing type of person, and I believed I could do it all, but as time went on, I was torn by my sense of duty and family commitments, and this eventually led to my discharge from the Army.

I was proud of what I achieved in the Army, and the resilience, self-discipline, and sense of camaraderie I developed in the Army have served me well in my role as a Police Officer in the South Australia Police (SAPOL). I no longer serve the country but now serve the community of South Australia, a highlight of which is working in remote Aboriginal communities and being part of SAPOL’s reconciliation journey.

My Uncle John Kinsela, who has now passed, was an Elder, veteran, and Olympian, and more importantly, one of my role models who gave back to the mob unconditionally. I hope that my actions in the reconciliation space and work in the community honour his legacy in some small way.