Kaylin Coleman
Kaparn Woman – our language group is Kalamaia
Leading Seaman Boatswain’s Mate
Royal Australian Navy

Australian Operational Service Medal – Greater Middle East
Australian Defence Medal

I was born in Kalgoorlie-Boulder in the Western Australian goldfields. I attended Kalgoorlie Primary School, Kalgoorlie-Boulder (Community) High School and then the Eastern Goldfields College. The Ricky Grace Girls Academy during high school had a huge impact on me, this Foundation provided mentoring and support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls. I’d always thought about joining the Army or Navy, but I decided on the Navy as it offered me the opportunity to travel. My family had always told me that if I put in hard work and dedication, I could achieve anything I wanted. They gave me self-belief – I’d say that’s the secret to success. So, at eighteen, I  left my job as a dental assistant to complete the  Indigenous Pre-Recruitment Course that went for eight weeks. When I joined the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in 2014, I was the first Aboriginal woman from the Goldfields region to enlist in the RAN.

I completed Recruit School at HMAS Cerberus, the Navy’s training establishment in Victoria where I gained skills including survival at sea, fire-fighting, line-handling, small boat operation, and close-range weapons. I then spent 3 years on HMAS Adelaide, the RAN’s largest ship, as part of the ship’s Sea, Fire and Emergency Rescue Party. In 2017, I joined the frigate HMAS Warramunga, as Leading Seaman Boatswain’s Mate, where I was the only Aboriginal woman in our crew of 200 sailors. We deployed to the Middle East on Operation Manitou as part of a combined Australian-Canadian task force supporting international efforts towards maritime security in the region. We conducted patrols in the Arabian Sea, where I was a member of our ship’s boarding party, contributing to the interception of 16 vessels carrying illegal drugs worth approximately $2.17 billion. While we were on Operation Manitou we visited the United Arab Emirates, India, and Africa. I personally loved Africa. We got to interact with the local people there, and attend a safari in Tanzania. It was such a humbling experience.

I  thoroughly enjoy my service in the Navy, the ups and the downs – the positives always outweigh the negatives. I’ve made lifelong friends, and they are my family away from family during our deployments. I value my framed photograph of our crew aboard HMAS Warramunga. My story of service has now been included in the Education Program for visiting school groups at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, and my portrait from Serving Country is displayed as part of the permanent collection of the National Maritime Museum in Sydney.