From Refugee to Soldier
By Mckuong Dhuol
Private John McKuong Dhuol came to Australia as a refugee when he was 18, but now supports Australians in need.
Private Mckuong Dhuol is part of the 7th Combat Signal Regiment in Brisbane, but recently supported Operation NSW Flood Assist providing signal capability to ensure units across the region, including in remote areas, have communication.
“This is my first operation,” Private Mckuong Dhuol said.
“I’ve done signals work on exercises previously but to see how important this capability is in a real-life situation – keeping our people safe and enabling them to carry out their vital flood relief work – is rewarding.”
The 34-year-old Australian soldier was born in South Sudan.
His family fled the area when he was aged eight because of the civil war.
They spent 10 years in the Kakuma Refugee Camp run by the UNHCR in northern Kenya.
“We were safe at the camp – we were provided food and medical attention,” he said.
“I also went to school there before we were accepted as refugees by Australia when I was 18.”
But Private Mckuong Dhuol’s English needed work.
“I could write but couldn’t speak English well so I did a three-month intensive English language course in Perth, which meant I could then go to Cyril Jackson Senior Campus to do my final school certificate and go to university,” he said.
He studied politics and government at Edith Cowan University before working as a security guard, before joining the Australian Army in October 2016.
“I wanted to do something that was going to help me learn more about myself and that would be a challenge,” he said.
“It has been what I expected and more.
“I’ve been asked to do things I never expected, including this operation where I can help out fellow Australians in need.”