Paul Walker
Waanyi Man
RASIGS Electronic Warfare Operator
Royal Australian Corps of Signals
Australian Army

Medals
Australian Active Service Medal with clasp East Timor
Australian Service Medal with clasp Bougainville
Australian Service Medals with clasps
Australian Defence Medal
UN Medal – East Timor
Army Combat Badge (ACB)
Returned from Active Service Badge (RASB)

 

I had some challenging times growing up, having little stability and support in my teenage years. I went to seven different high schools throughout Queensland, repeated year 11, and went to three high schools in year 12. I finished when I was 18.

Staying in school was all that I really knew how to do, which meant a new school wherever I could find a place to stay. Fortunately for me, with a little guidance, I stayed resilient in the belief that better days were waiting for me. I was the first Indigenous serviceman in my family. I remember that day clearly, I signed up to the Australian Army from the Cairns RSL Sub Branch in 1996 when I was just 20 years old. It was a big deal for me at that time as I was nervous and doubtful all at once. I told myself, what am I doing? Do I have what it takes? It was a quiet walk up those stairs. I was unemployed, unqualified, and holding the only school report card where I’d managed to stay in one school long enough to pass English and Math. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, and the rest was history. I’m now honoured to be an executive director of the Cairns RSL Sub Branch, where I report as the treasurer in the very same room, a place where we also play our two-up on Anzac Day every year.

I found I had an aptitude for Morse Code and was accepted into the Royal Australian Signals Corps, where I served for several years as an Electronic Warfare Operator. I left Kapooka as a recipient of the Fifth Battalion’s Most Improved Soldier Award and then spent my first year in telecommunications intelligence training before being posted to a combat support unit, the Seven Signals Regiment. It felt, for once in my life, like I was becoming someone, part of something greater than I could ever imagine. It was a place where I was supported and encouraged to become the best I could be. In 1998, I sailed from HMAS Cairns Naval Base to Bougainville as part of the Peace Monitoring Group on Operation Bel Isi, when the cease-fire and Treaty had just ended the 10-year civil war between the Papua New Guinea military and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army. I later took an interest in a more physical role in radio reconnaissance, which at that time, included becoming para-qualified in 1999 to support special service elements.

In 2000, I served as part of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor on Operation Tanager after their independence, where we provided security and stability throughout the region. In 2003, I left the Army and joined the Australian Border Force, amongst several other appointments, and continue to serve the community as a volunteer. Cairns is the place I call home; I married my wife here, a Kalkadoon, Bidjara and Darnley Island woman, and our children were born here.