Taslena Tapim
Dauareb tribe of the Meriam Nation, Torres Strait
Medical Officer
Royal Australian Navy

Australian Defence Medal


I am a proud Dauareb woman from Mer Island in the Eastern parts of the Torres Strait.  From the young age of 9, I knew that I would be in the Australian Defence Force with a strong familial influence from both of my parents and brothers serving a combined 70 years in either the Australian Army or Navy. Witnessing my family members, in particular my eldest brother BJ and the positive influence he continues to have within our community, to have the opportunity to follow in his footsteps (by applying for Medical Sailor) was an honourable and easy decision for me.
I joined the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in July 2015 after completing the 6 weeks tri-service Indigenous Pre-recruitment course in May of 2015. While the journey hasn’t been without its challenges, I’ve persevered with the ongoing support from my family and my community. Following successful completion of the ADF Medics Course at HMAS Penguin Medical School in 2017, I posted into HMAS Kuttabul Health Centre. In 2018, I applied to commence the Bachelor of Medicine at Newcastle University, graduating as a Doctor of Medicine in 2023. During my studies, I successfully commissioned as an officer within the RAN, being promoted in 2019 from Seaman Medical Sailor to Sub-Lieutenant.
I am now a RAN Lieutenant and an Intern Doctor at Royal North Shore Hospital. I’m also a proud member of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association whom continue to support me as a Junior Doctor, generating and building upon invaluable connections with my community. Whilst I am at the early stages of my career, I look forward to gaining more experience and welcoming the opportunities to encourage and support other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian Defence Force – to break barriers and strive to further their education and undertake leadership positions that serve not only this country but our individual communities.