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Meet Satbir Kahlon, multicultural ambassador of Australian Defence Force

Satbir Kahlon at SBS Melbourne Studio

A turbaned Sikh, Satbir Kahlon says the Australian Army has very well accommodated his articles of faith which has lifted his morale.

Growing up in Ambala, a cantonment town in North India, Satbir Kahlon was fascinated by the sight of the crisp looking, olive green-clad military officers. 

He had the dream of donning the uniform himself one day. However, his circumstances led him to a different direction.

But his childhood dream got wings when he came to Australia.

"When I came to Australia, I got to know about the Army reserves... they work alongside the regular Army.. I applied in 2013 and I got selected last year in the officer stream," says Kahlon.

Satbir studied Information Technology on arriving in Australia. He also worked in the IT sector. But the Officer Cadet says his passion for sports steered him towards physical education. He is now doing a double degree in Exercise Sports Science in Deakin University besides his Army training.

Satbir takes immense pride in wearing his army uniform. "My chest goes from 40 to 50 when I wear it."

Being a turbaned Sikh, he was circumspect about his acceptability within the force. However, he says, he was never treated any differently.

"They told me there are a lot of Sikhs in the Army here. 'You are free to wear your turban, grow your beard.' That lifted my morale and I never had to look back."

"The first day when I went, they welcomed me, they even hugged me. I was told it didn't matter what religion I or anyone else belonged to, what is important is the common goal of safeguarding the country."

Satbir says the Army has very well accommodated his turban he has been allocated specific time to tie it.

Besides being a multicultural ambassador of the Australian Defence Force, Satbir is also an ambassador for the AFL.

"It's a great opportunity for me, as a role model of the Indian community, to send out a message, and I am trying my best to do it."

"I urge all those people who had ever dreamt of joining the Army, to come forward now and apply. There's a Sikh regiment in India. My dream is, If not a Sikh regiment, there should definitely be an Indian regiment in Australia," says Satbir.

"There's a wall between the Army and a common man. We want to demolish that wall. We want to welcome the people who want to join the force, with open arms.


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