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Cairns turned on the tropical heat and provided us with a great Yarn Up turn out.
We spoke with Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal ex-servicemen, including Patrick Mills who served in the Navy on ships supplying the Australian forces in Vietnam and who also talks about the service of his father and that whole generation of Torres Strait Islander men who left their homes to fight against the Japanese in World War 2 and the women, including his mother, who were left behind to survive on their islands virtually defenceless. Les Boyd spoke to us about his service in the Australian Navy as a radio operator. He recounts instances of racism during his service but also the excellent training and opportunities he was afforded. Phillip Bowie joined the Navy in 1965 and he spoke to us about the racism he encountered in his service, saying that both Aboriginal people and other minorities were treated differently to white members of the RAN. More than not being treated equally, Phillip also spoke about treatment by senior officers in particular as abusive and at times frightening.
Mial Bingarape was born and raised on Thursday Island to an Indonesian father and Torres Strait Islander mother. At age 28 Mial joined the army for a better future for him and his young family and in 1963 Mial’s regiment was deployed to Malaya during Konfrontasi, where Mial experienced the danger and horror of jungle warfare first hand. Clinton Tipo spoke to us about his 15 years in the Navy, including his time on the Navy’s Heavy Landing Craft and deployments to Papua New Guinea, during which time he worked with the PNGDF.
In Cairns in 2012, Jacqueline Shaw was interviewed by Noah Riseman, and spoke about signing up to join the Navy in 1973. Jacqueline served for four years, doing her training in Melbourne and working at HMAS Harman in Canberra. Alongside her experiences in the Navy, in her interview Jacqueline also talks about her post–service work and life, and notes that her father served in Malaya with the Australian army.