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Above: Sq Ldr Vickram Singh Grewal with RAAF Chief, Air Marshal Leo Davies.


Squadron Leader Vickram Singh Grewal To Spearhead Australian Air Force’s Path To Diversity





Squadron Leader (Sqn Ldr) Vickram Singh Grewal joined the Royal Australian Air Force (‘RAAF’) in March this year as a Specialist Capability Officer, having worked in the Department of Defence for many years previously.

Within a week of becoming an officer, he was given a very special privilege on the 96th anniversary celebrations of the RAAF - he was asked to present a Sikh prayer (ardaas) at the Canberra commemoration, which was attended by the Chief of the RAAF Air, Marshal Leo Davies, apart from other dignitaries.

"To me personally, this was the best welcome possible, into the RAAF," Vickram Singh said.

Now, to honour May 21 as the World Day for Cultural Diversity and Dialogue, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is holding community sessions in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide where officers from multicultural backgrounds, including Vickram Singh will be present to answer questions about joining the ADF.

"People could have misconceptions about whether or not ADF provides a welcoming environment to officers of multicultural backgrounds. Perhaps a Sikh may wonder if he can wear a turban or a kirpan. We want to clear those misconceptions and answer any other questions that people may have," Vickram explains.

"ADF wants to be the employer of choice for people from all walks of life. It is not about your background, culture or religion, but more about what capability and professionalism you can bring to the forces."

Having been a part of the religious advisory committee for the ADF for many years, he adds, "Slowly but surely, ADF is attracting more and more people from various cultural backgrounds and religions. The latest statistics I have show a comparison between 2005 and 2015 and there is a demonstrable growth."

"In 2005, there were 43 Muslim ADF members, which grew to 106 by 2015; in the same period, the number of Hindu ADF officers increased from 39 to 166, the number of Buddhist officers went up from 105 to 180, with the Sikh community seeing a huge spike - in 2005, there were only 6 Sikh ADF officers recorded, whereas in 2015, that number grew to 55."

As for himself, Vickram decided to join the Air Force at a mature age because "it was my childhood dream."

"Uniform, discipline and service to the nation are values that have always been dear to me. My father worked for the Air Force back home for nearly 30 years and I grew up on Air Force bases on the subcontinent, always wanting to be pilot. Because of my eyesight defficiency though, I was unable to become a pilot there, after which I completed my Engineering degree and moved to Australia almost 20 years ago."

"I had been working with the Department of Defence for many years and recently, I was sponsored to join the RAAF to continue doing the work I was doing for the ADF previously - but as a commissioned officer. This is my dream come true."

"If others have a similar dream they must come along to these sessions we're running over the next few days, so we have better diversity and inclusion."

"Anyone with an interest in joining the ADF should come along - especially people from the Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Sikh backgrounds."

[Courtesy: Special Broadcasting Service (’SBS‘) - Punjabi, Australia. Edited for]
May 19, 2017


Conversation about this article

1: Jaswinder Kaur (Australia ), May 19, 2017, 7:44 PM.

I fully agree with Sqdn Ldr Vickramjit Singh's views. Australian defence forces should get more enthusiastic, loyal and educated young people from different segments of society and walks of life.

2: Rachin Sachdeva (Australia), May 19, 2017, 9:07 PM.

Super duper amazing! Good on you, Vickram. Great achievement. Lots more to come your way. This will really open doors for Sikh-Aussies and others who are looking forward to joining the team and serving their country by bringing their commitment, enthusiasm and spirits.

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