Reach Indians and South East Asians living in Australia



RAAF Country Liaison Officers, Flight Lieutenants Inderbir (Inder) Singh (left) and Darpan (Dev) Dhawan (right) with Indian Navy Naval Air Operations Officer INAS 312, Lieutenant Sanjana Kamat and Qualified Navigation Instructor INAS 316. Lieutenant Commander Lokesh Kumar.

Flight Lieutenants Inderbir Singh and Darpan Dhawan are Australian Indian migrants who now live and work as members of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

Flight Lieutenant Singh, born in Ludhiana in the north Indian state of Punjab, migrated with his family to the Australian city of Adelaide when he was 12-years-old.

Flight Lieutenant Dhawan, born in the National Capital Territory of Delhi, migrated with his family to Adelaide when he was 10-years-old.

Both attended the same Australian high school and joined the RAAF in 2014 while studying engineering at university.

Both also posted to RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia followed by RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland, albeit at different Wings.

Still great friends, they are proud to combine their Indian and Australian heritage, especially during international military events like Exercise Malabar with the chance to work alongside members of the Indian Armed Forces.

Exercise Malabar is a premier Indo-Pacific naval activity that brings together key regional partners to operate in support of an open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific.

Royal Australian Navy is honoured that Indian Navy provided Australia the opportunity to host the navies of India, Japan and the United States with air participation from RAAF F-35A Lightning II and P-8A Poseidon, Indian Navy P-8I and US Navy P-8A aircraft.

Working as Country Liaison Officer (CLO) during Indian engagements such as these sees Flight Lieutenant Singh facilitate cultural understanding, effective communication and collaboration between the Australian Defence Force and the Indian Armed Forces.

“A CLO plays a vital role in a joint military exercise that is much more than just language interpretation,” Flight Lieutenant Singh said.

“We help build bilateral relationships to contribute to the overall success of joint exercises and lead to greater regional stability, security, and long-term cooperation.”

Flight Lieutenant Singh was delighted to assist the Indian Navy in celebrating India’s 76th anniversary of Independence while in Australia for the exercise.

“At the opening of Exercise Malabar’s air component, Australia shared a traditional Aboriginal Welcome to Country ceremony followed by a special cake and gifts to celebrate India’s 76 years of Independence,” Flight Lieutenant Singh said.

Among those enjoying the cross-cultural ceremony was Indian Navy qualified navigation instructor INAS 316, Lieutenant Commander Lokesh Kumar and naval air operations officer INAS 312, Lieutenant Sanjana Kamat.

Based at INS Hansa naval aviation base in the southwest city of Goa, Exercise Malabar was Lieutenant Commander Kumar’s first opportunity to visit Australia.

Lieutenant Commander Kumar joined the Indian Navy in 2013 to honour his family’s three-generation legacy of serving in the Armed Forces.

“I chose to join the Navy for its crucial role in shaping our nation’s geopolitical landscape,” Lieutenant Commander Kumar said.

“Participating in multilateral exercises like Malabar allows us to learn from partner countries, exchange tactical knowledge, and refine operational capabilities.

“They provide an important opportunity for cross-cultural interactions in diverse settings, improve global awareness, broaden perspectives and build camaraderie.”

It was also Lieutenant Sanjana Kamat’s first visit to Australia after joining the Indian Navy in 2021 at INS Rajali near Arakkonam in the Ranipet district of southern India.

“There is a huge sense of respect for the uniform in India,” Lieutenant Kamat said.

“We take great pride to be associated with the defence forces and that motivated me to join.”

For Lieutenant Kamat, visiting Australia was a chance to interact with personnel from other nations and share common ideas and good aviation practices – exemplifying why exercises such as these strengthen the enduring relationship between Australia and India.

Australia and India have a long-standing relationship. Indian migrants are Australia’s fastest-growing diaspora and second-largest group of overseas-born residents. And since signing the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2020, Defence cooperation and strategic alignment between the two countries is at a historic high point.

Media Release

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