Private Pamela Amber, a Panaygal and Samu woman from an island in the Torres Strait, has achieved her dream of joining Defence and is now setting her mind to being a role model, mentoring future Indigenous soldiers.

“Being Indigenous and a female, it’s always hard to get out of the community so I wanted to challenge myself and see where it could lead me,” she said of her decision to join the Army.

Growing up immersed in culture, the 19-year-old fulfilled her dream, enlisting as a driver in 2015.

But adjusting to a military life came with challenges.

“Initially it was quite hard, especially being away from home − coming from a small community on an island, then moving to Cairns and adapting to city life, then joining the military and adapting to military life,” she said.

 “I didn’t know there were many Indigenous soldiers, sailors or airmen until I attended a Defence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National conference (DATSIN) in Canberra.

“That’s when I found out there was a whole heap of us Indigenous mob in the Defence Force.

“Being Indigenous, when you see another Indigenous member within Defence, you have that natural instinct of connecting, and that’s the best thing about us.” 

Private Amber said she was thrilled the number of Indigenous personnel in Defence was increasing.

“Now there are so many of us coming through. We are brothers and sisters now,” she said.

She is posted to the 3rd Combat Service Support Battalion where she found her second home − a family within Defence.

“Being Indigenous, culture is a big part of my life. It signifies my ancestors, my family and my people,” she said.

“I think we need to uphold that strong heritage of our culture, and when younger generations come in the future, they will look up to us.”

Private Amber said Indigenous history should be passed on through the ADF to increase cultural awareness.

She has been involved in the ADF Indigenous Mentoring Program with the Tiwi Island Youth Girls over the past three years, guiding participants, encouraging them to be confident and to grasp opportunities.

“My message to young Indigenous people is: take it as it comes and give it go. You never know where it can lead you,” Private Amber said.

Private Amber also has represented Army and ADF in women’s AFL.