Raelene Pearson
Torres Strait Islander – Kaiwalagal, Kulkalgal and Kemer Kemer Meriam
1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment
Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps
Australian Army

Australian Operational Service Medal – Greater Middle East Operation
Australian Defence Medal


I was born on Waiben (Thursday Island) and raised on Kirirri (Hammond Island) by my mother. Through her, I have a genealogical connection to Kulkalgal (Central Islands), Kemer Kemer Meriam (Eastern Islands), and Kaiwalagal (Inner Islands). I am a proud Torres Strait Islander with a strong connection to my culture and heritage. From a young age, I aspired to enlist in the Defence Force to seek purpose, career development, adventure and to inspire the next generation of my community. I strive to be a role model for adolescent girls who aim to build a career away from their homeland, leaving the security of family and community.

At the age of thirteen, due to the lack of educational facilities in the Torres Strait, I applied for a scholarship to attend a boarding school in Brisbane. On the 5th of February 2018, I enlisted in the Australian Army. In 2019, I was posted into the 3rd Combat Service Support Battalion as a Logistician Storeperson. In 2021, I deployed on Operation Accordion—MSU—1 to the Middle East Region. Upon return, I was posted into the 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment, where I then again deployed on the Indo-Pacific Endeavour in 2022, travelling around Southeast Asia completing a sequence of training exercises with coalition forces. I have also represented the Australian Army Women’s Rugby Union team, where I have competed in inter-service competitions.

A career highlight is when I had the opportunity to travel to Waiben with two other members from DFR – Cairns for the 80th Anniversary of the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion in 2023. We attended community meetings, sharing our experiences of serving and advocating career opportunities in the Defence Force for Torres Strait Islander youth. We took part in the festivities and paid our respects to the fallen. My great grandfather, Jimmy Pearson, served within the battalion that consisted of 880 men who volunteered. Those who served within the battalion were not a part of the Commonwealth Census. I am profoundly proud of my great athe, ‘grandfather’, who defended his country, although at the time he was not recognized as a citizen. This is a true inspiration and a symbol of courage.

In the future, I aim to pursue a posting in recruiting or at a training establishment working specifically with Indigenous Recruitment. I strive to continue to serve as a mentor to Indigenous comrades who are longing to enlist and share my culture and heritage with colleagues.