Cameron Cruz
Aboriginal Nyoongar Tribe of Wajak Country
Able Seaman
Marine Logistics Supply Chain
Royal Australian Navy

 

I was born in Armadale, Perth, Western Australia, and raised in WA my whole life. I spent most of my childhood growing up with my parents and brother, living in Mandurah, south of Perth. I attended Greenfields Primary School after completing year 7. My family and I moved to Kwinana, where I spent most of my teenage adulthood. I went to secondary school at Kwinana Senior High School my education was not the greatest I suffered learning difficulties understanding Mathematics, which took its toll on many things in life. The school offered me some great opportunities like the Work Experience Program. Where I went out and did work experience at various workplaces around my local area. From Car Detailing to Vehicle Mechanic, Building & Construction at the local Shire Council and other various roles. As a teenager growing up, I was very confused about my future career path.

At the age of 16, I knew I wanted to join the Navy. Watching movies and seeing the Navy Ad campaign on television inspired me to want to join. However, due to past historical events, my family was against me joining the ADF; they wanted to see me succeed in an apprenticeship. Therefore, I did just that I left High School at Year 10 after completing a 3-week work experience program and offered an apprenticeship with a local Mechanical Workshop where I would complete a 4-year apprenticeship and earn a CERTIII in Automotive Mechanical Technologies. I was over the moon with excitement, landing my first-ever job and doing something I would much enjoy. However leaving school at such a young age and not completing year 12 I had no idea of the effects it would cause later in life. After I accomplished and completed my apprenticeship, I wanted a fresh start I wanted to continue to challenge myself. So I left the Automotive Industry and went Mining I spent 4 years in the mining industry and thoroughly enjoyed my time doing so where I made many lifetime friends. After finishing my career in the Mining Industry there became a point in my life, where I was unhappy recently separating from my partner I realised I needed a completely new fresh start in life a new scene. Therefore, I moved to Melbourne and started a new job in the Steel Industry I went on to develop new skills and achieve more competences in the Logistics Industry. Little did I know the Navy Recruiting Grounds were just around the corner, that old flame I had back when I was 16 reignited. I felt very unchallenged and very bored in my current job, and though there was a range of opportunities to improve and upskill, I felt the Steel Industry just wasn’t for me. The life of shift work was really eating at me and my mental health. It was the same routine day and night, 12 hours each day, doing the same continuous work under the same roof in the same dark and gloomy factory. I would hear stories of others suffering in the same way I was with the common line used “IF IT WASN’T FOR THE MONEY” I would leave this workplace. I was very grateful for the lifetime friends I made and the future career skills earned during my time in the industry but at that point in my life I knew I had to do something the money did not mean anything to me I would rather live a happy life than be miserable each week. I needed to find a new career something adventurous somewhere I where I would not spend 12 hours a day doing the same old work.

So, I applied to join the Royal Australian Navy at age 27 I made my way up to DFR Melbourne and sat the RAN Enlistment Exam. Very nervous as I was, I had no idea what I was going to face in this exam, Mathematics has never been a strong point in my schooling in fact my teacher once wrote a report mentioning I have a disability to understand Maths and will never understand Mathematics fully. I gave the exam my best shot after completing the exam I became very doubtful that I past the Mathematic component and it became reality when a DFR Coach approached me and said sorry but you have failed the exam not only failing the exam I had failed a medical screening questionnaire. He said to me, please come back in 6 months and try again. I walked away devastated I began hating myself for not being able to understand Maths and questioning why I was medically red flagged I felt like my one and only opportunity a dream I had for many years was over. One week went by, and I received a call from an Indigenous Recruiter at DFR. He understood my learning difficulties as I explained more that my education was not the greatest throughout my childhood. I was offered an opportunity to reapply in 6 months under the ADFs Navy Indigenous Development Program, where I would be re-enrolled at TAFE to relearn Maths and English at year 11 & 12 standards.  I was absolutely over the moon, jumping with joy, knowing I had been given a second opportunity. 6 Months went by I reapplied to join I had been assigned a new careers coach somebody completely new that did not understand my learning difficulties. I was questioned whether I was suitable to apply under the NIDP Program due to my career achievements of having a trade qualification. I was told I was over-advanced in my education and did not need further progression. I stressed my concerns I was not ready to undergo another exam, knowing I would not pass the Maths component, but unfortunately, it was my only option. Once again I gave it my best shot I walked in confident but walked away disappointed I had failed at a second attempt to join the RAN this time questioning where am I falling behind where do I need to improve. It was apparent that I had been medically red-flagged due to a medical concern which happened years ago. Two years went by after numerous amounts of emails back and forth and medical documentation being uploaded trying to convince people I am fit and healthy, and I am ambitious to join the Navy and serve my Country to make my family and friends proud. Soon the email trails and phone calls suddenly went quiet I hadn’t heard from the Recruiting Agency in 6 months I was beginning to lose hope eventually moving on with life I began to find other career paths I might enjoy.

One day, I received a call saying to pack my bags. You have been accepted to join the Royal Australian Navy under the Navy Indigenous Development Program. I was honestly lost for words after almost 3 years I fought a battle that I thought I would never succeed in. I was jumping with joy and packing my bags to head off on one of the biggest journeys life could ever throw at me. NIDP was the best experience of my life. I was given the opportunity to go back to school and understand mathematics better by having one-on-one sessions with a Tutor. The education and activities I became involved in and learning about different cultures were outstanding, giving me the skills and abilities to take on the role of becoming a sailor in the RAN. My 4.5 years serving my country in the Royal Australian Navy have taken me to places I have never been and given me a lifetime of friends, some of whom now have become family to me. It is great to be acknowledged for the achievements I have made and the awards I have earned. In addition, my career progression has been life-changing. I do not for a second regret my decision to join the RAN. It has been the job of a lifetime.

My one goal, my ambition, is to one day fill a role in Indigenous Recruiting and become a role model for my culture and people. I want to assist other indigenous men and women in reaching their goals in life and do my family and friends proud.