Tim Holt
Wakka Wakka and Bidjara
Combat Engineer
Australian Army

National Emergency Medal (Bushfires),
Australian Defence Medal
Defence Support Services Silver Commendation Award


My parents met while employed in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). My father, Robert Holt, a proud Wakka Wakka and Bidjara man, was an Airfield Defence Guard, and my mother, Pamela Holt (nee Francis), was a dental nurse. My mother sadly passed away at the age of 36 when I was four years old. The Australian Defence Force was very supportive and allowed my father to stay permanently at RAAF Base Amberley so that my two older sisters and I could be closer to my grandparents, James ‘Jimmy’ Holt (Bidjara) and May Holt (Wakka Wakka, nee Pickering), so they could care for us when dad went away on exercises and other matters. Boredom was a feature in this highly regimented area. I grew up surrounded by other RAAF brats, and we would look for mischievous ways to entertain ourselves. We would often sneak onto the base through a turnstile in the fence to go to the theatre to watch movies and swim in the pool. On other nights, we would rock the roofs of unsuspecting neighbours who would call the RAAF police, and we would be ducking between bushes and buildings to avoid the bright spotlights. I would also steal my father’s equipment and play ‘armies’ with my friends. My father would sometimes come home cranky, asking where a piece of equipment he needed when he was out of the bush was, and I would sheepishly retrieve it.

Naturally, I wanted to join from an early age. When it came time, my father talked me out of joining and directed me to other endeavours. I found out later that my grandfather had also advised my father to do the same. My father worked different jobs before defying my grandfather’s instructions and joining the RAAF. I was told my grandfather had not spoken to my father for a long time following this decision. I was perplexed as my father spoke fondly of his service and dedicated over 20 years to it. Although my father had his reasons, he never discussed them with me. On reflection, I think I understand why he didn’t want me to join, particularly with the ‘global war on terror’ commencing at the time. My curiosity remained as I saw friends and family join and discharged over the years. I finally decided to join the reserves as a Combat Engineer. I have made some lifelong friends and had some great experiences. Friends have asked if I could go back in time and if I would enlist. I usually say no. Things happen for a reason and I am where I belong.

I have had a very rewarding career in the Australian Public Service (APS), including the privilege to contribute to a broad range of policy areas, from Indigenous Affairs to National Security. I was selected to undertake a PhD under the prestigious Sir Roland Wilson Pat Turner Scholarship, focusing on delivering Indigenous Data Governance for the APS. I am proud to work on matters of national significance that will benefit my people, the Australian public, and be a role model for my two sons.