Call to arms for Indigenous Navy officers

Lieutenant Scott McKeen on HMAS Canberra's flight deck in the Port of Darwin, Northern Territory. Photo: Leading Seaman Ryan Tascas

Call to arms for Indigenous Navy officers

When Lieutenant Scott McKeen left Darwin to join the Royal Australian Navy in 2004, he knew just a handful of Indigenous sailors.

Sixteen years later, he said he had seen an increase in numbers of Indigenous people in the Navy.

“I want to encourage those young men and women to consider commissioning or signing up directly as an officer and joining me in increasing the numbers of Indigenous officers,”  Lieutenant McKeen said. 

Lieutenant McKeen is embarked in HMAS Canberra on Regional Presence Deployment 2020, which is part of a maritime task group sailing through South-East Asia and Hawaii to exercise with Australia’s partners in the region. 

His speciality is mine warfare and during the next three months, he will focus on planning operations and keeping the task group connected.

Lieutenant McKeen’s interest in joining the Navy was strongly connected to his hometown and the Northern Territory.

“When I looked into joining the forces, Navy was my preference because as an Indigenous Darwinian, I have an affinity to being around salt water and couldn’t imagine a career that didn’t incorporate that environment,” Lieutenant McKeen said. 

Most of his family still live in the Northern Territory, including his four daughters Shonice, Kalita, Scarlett and Sienna. 

“They love that I drive warships and have a challenging and rewarding career, but it’s been hard for them as I have done a lot of sea time and deployments,” Lieutenant McKeen said. 

He hopes his commitment to his career has been an example to his children and his community. 

“Being a naval officer is not only a rewarding career but also gives Indigenous people a chance to represent an integral part of Australian society in an environment where we can all learn from each other,” Lieutenant McKeen said.

“We will continue to prove that the Navy is a great workplace by getting more Indigenous representation in the officer ranks.”

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