Asim Halim also known as Sam Halim
Flight Sergeant
Royal Australian Air Force

Australian Service Medal with clasps IRAQ and KUWAIT
Defence Long Service Medal with first clasp

Yarra Ranges Council Ian De La Rue Award for Community Service


I arrived in Australia from Egypt in 1976 with hardly a penny to my name.  I used up all my life savings making a long and arduous trip across the Middle East, first through Iraq and Syria, then Cyprus, until finally, I got to Greece, where I was able to make it to the lucky country.

Life in Australia was tough at first because my teaching qualifications were not recognised.  After a series of menial jobs, I finally got my lucky break in 1980, when the Officer Commanding at Duntroon Military Base (where I was employed as a kitchen hand) saw my potential and encouraged me to sign up to the Australian Defence Force.

I suppose you can say I never looked back.  A twenty-year career in the RAAF followed.  In 1991, I saw active service in the Persian Gulf, where I was deployed as an Arabic linguist on HMAS Darwin during the first Gulf War.  Another highlight came in 1995 when I was posted to the Australian High Commission London and seconded to one of the UK’s Intelligence organisations (where I was doubly lucky to meet my second wife!)  During my RAAF career, I was awarded the Australian Service Medal-Iraq, Australian Service Medal-Kuwait and Defence Long Service Medal-First Clasp.

One of the main reasons I left Egypt in the first place was to escape doing my National Service.  It was always a source of great amusement to my mother and father that I had evaded military service in one country, only to enlist of my own free will in another.

Looking back, I now realise that my time in the Australian Defence Force was to pave the way for something really special, something that would not become apparent until well after I had left the Defence Force.

Honouring the military service of our Indigenous peoples has become a cause close to my heart.  It all started in 2006, whilst I was president of the Healesville RSL Sub-Branch. Indigenous elder, the late Aunty Dot Peters AM asked me if the RSL would honour her father and the other forgotten Indigenous servicemen who had fought and died for Australia but had never received any recognition.  I have always believed that if you fight for your country, your country owes you acknowledgement, equality and recognition in return.  On 31 May 2006, we held the first remembrance service for those forgotten soldiers and co-founded the Victorian Aboriginal Remembrance Service, which moved to the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, the following year.  Now in its twentieth year, The Service is a permanent fixture on the Reconciliation Week calendar.

If this all sounds easy, I can assure you it wasn’t.  In those early days we faced strong opposition from within the Victorian RSL and other government organisations, and we had to fight really hard to keep The Service.

As a long-time resident of the Yarra Ranges, I have also been active in the local community, promoting tourism, and serving twice as President of Healesville Rotary and twice as President of Healesville RSL.  On Australia Day 2023, I was awarded the Yarra Ranges Council Ian De La Rue Award for Community Service.

I am proud of these achievements and will continue to defend the rights of the underdog and to fight injustices wherever I see them. Now, I can be sure that our Indigenous service men and women will never be forgotten again.