Nathan Shingles


As a Board Director of the Cairns RSL Sub Branch, I was encouraged by Cairns RSL Sub Branch members to nominate to fulfill the vacancy of President. Whilst on Board, I have been actively involved in all aspects of the Board from attending meetings, representing the Sub Branch at events, acting as MC, resolution of the loan issue that was inherited, and have made a commitment to the members of seeing through my tenure as a Director, even through challenging times.

My priority as President is to continue the momentum of the great work already being done by our Sub Branch. That is a focus on Veteran welfare, member engagement, and activities, supporting HMAS CAIRNS and 51 FNQ servicemen and women, the continuation of the youth kickstart program, engaging and promoting involvement with our younger veterans, and overseeing the important commemorative events.

As a director of my own business, I understand the importance of maintaining a strategic business plan, financial accountability, and business acumen. And in essence, that is what the Directors are charged with, to enable the Sub Branch to continue its core function and remain a viable and high-performing business. As a Director, I have done this and will continue to do so, leading the team of Directors on this journey.

By way of introduction, for those of you who I have not already met, I was born in Canberra and grew up in the northern suburbs of Brisbane. After finishing High School, I followed my dream and
commenced my trade as a chef prior to joining the Royal Australian Navy. I served in numerous shore establishments and served at sea in HMA Ships TORRENS, WESTRALIA, BUNBURY, GLADSTONE, and WEWAK. Significant events in my career included deployments to Heard and Mcdonald Islands under operations Stanhope and Dirk supporting the apprehension of illegal fishing in the Australian Antarctic fishing zone and was a crewman on the damage control team in
HMAS WESTRALIA. Along with operational tours on Border Protection, service in Bougainville Peace Monitoring in 2001, ANZAC Exchange with the Royal New Zealand Navy, and on the Maritime Commanders staff working for Rear Admiral Smith and Rear Admiral Raydon Gates AO, CSM.

Since leaving the Royal Australian Navy I have developed my commercial experience and am now the owner of a successful business in Cairns for 14 years now whilst serving the Sub Branch has provided me with the unique opportunity and experience to serve and support veterans of all ages as Sub Branch President.

Key Priorities for my term as President

• Supporting all veterans and their needs (without sacrificing existing veteran services)
• Being available for you, the membership at any time of day should an urgent issue need immediate attention
• Passionately enhancing the reputation of RSL in Cairns mostly amongst younger veterans, without them onboard we won’t have an RSL in the future as membership is already declining
• Ensure good governance practices are maintained and speak out, regardless of the consequence when this is not being adhered to.

It has been a great honour and privilege to serve the members as Sub Branch President I will do my upmost to ensure that our defence family continues to be supported at the highest level. Rest assured, I am committed to the ongoing success of the Sub Branch and will always be an active contributor in the role that the membership feels is best utilisation of my skill set.


Paul Walker


Paul joined the Army from the Cairns RSL in 1996. He was posted to combat support unit 7th Signals Regiment (Electronic Warfare) as an OpSig. Paul served in Bougainville 1998 and East Timor 2000. He was then posted to the Defence Signals Directorate in Canberra before medical discharge in 2003.

Over the past two decades Paul has gained valuable experience across the community services sector, in particular as a former financial counsellor, and volunteer to various mental health and veteran organisations. All of which he is keen to put to good use as a member of the board.

In recent times Paul has been recognised through various government awards for his contributions to the mental health sector. One of his goals is to also represent both the Sub Branch and the Cairns region as an Australian Aboriginal man for both current and ex serving members of the ADF.


Neil Turnbull


Neil’s family has a long service history in the RAAF with his father serving in PNG in WW2 as an instrument mechanical fitter, his mother serving in the RAAF in WW2, and both of his sisters and their husbands all serving in the RAAF.

Neil served in the RAAF for just over 20 years, joining in 1981 and completing his trade training as an Instrument fitter in 1983. Neil was initially posted to 481 Sqn in Williamtown for Mirage maintenance after his training was completed, and was then posted to 492Sqn on P3-C Orions where he served for 5 years on the Maritime Patrol Aircraft, which took him overseas on regular deployments to Malaysia, Singapore and the United States.

Neil then volunteered for posting to a new base being established in Tindal in the NT in 1988 as part of the initial avionics maintenance crew to work on the newly acquired FA/18 Hornets of 75 Sqn, where he served for a number of years deploying to Malaysia, The Philippines and Singapore, before being promoted and posted back to Adelaide to ARDU (Aircraft Research and Development Unit). At ARDU his duties included supporting the test and trials of various types of modifications and weapon trials on both F111 and FA/18 aircraft both in Adelaide and at the Woomera Rocket range, as well as maintaining the PC-9 & DC-3 aircraft the unit also operated. Neil accepted a short notice posting back to 75 Sqn Tindal in 1993, continuing his work on the FA/18s, where he was again promoted and performed in the role of an Independent Inspector on the FA/18s, until being posted out in 1999 to take up a similar role at 2OCU in Williamtown which also operates FA/18 A & B aircraft to train new Hornet pilots. This was Neil’s final posting prior to discharge in 2001. Neil had the opportunity to fly in the FA/18s on a number of occasions, and says it is a memory that he will always cherish, along with the camaraderie of the awesome people he had to privilege to serve with.

Neil decided to move to Cairns after discharge from the RAAF, initially taking up a position in the Maintenance Training Division of Flightship, Wing in Ground Effect assisting in the registration of the world’s first commercially registered Wing in Ground Effect (WIG) Craft with Germanischer Lloyd,  before going into business for himself in Cairns, which he has done so for nearly 15 years. Neil hopes that the professional experience he has gained outside of the forces, and in business, along with the connections he has made within the Cairns community, coupled with his defence knowledge, will be a valuable asset to the Board and ultimately the Sub-Branch members which it represents.

Gillian Bryant


Gillian was born in Quirindi, Country NSW, after finishing school in 2001 Gillian joined the Royal Australian Navy and become a Communications and Information Systems Sailor.  Gillian is a current serving young Veteran who is currently employed in a reserve capacity at HMAS Cairns booking travel for Sea Training Group Defence Cooperation Program.

One of Gillian’s professional goals, that she has recently embarked on is mentoring young women in Defence who are returning to work post-partum or women who are wanting advise on managing a family, work, life balance.

The veteran mental health field is an important focus, that Gillian is keen to be more involved in.

Gillian’s hobbies include driving her children to sport and other activities 4 to 5 times a week and watching live basketball games.



Rob 'brucey' lee


Rob ‘Brucey’ Lee joined the Australian Army in 2001 serving for ten years as an Infantry soldier before transferring to logistics spending the remainder of his 16 years of service as a Company Quartermaster Sergeant. Rob saw operational service in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan as well as deploying on training missions to Malaysia and Germany. After a brief hiatus in New Zealand working as a contracts administrator for a civil engineering firm Rob returned to Australia and established the Cairns Mates4Mates branch.

After working for 18 months establishing the Mates4Mates brand working as a Liaison Officer Rob moved into the sales department at Pacific Toyota. Rob wishes to transfer skills learnt through his military career and experience in dealing with veterans with physical and psychological injuries with Mates4Mates to the Cairns RSL sub-branch.

Graeme Kelly


Graeme was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and joined the British Army (Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers – REME) as an apprentice in Sep 1989.

He spent 23 years with REME, including postings in Northern Ireland, England, Germany, Cyprus, and Gibraltar, and deployments including Falkland Islands, Canada, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan, reaching the rank of Sergeant.

Graeme left the British Army in Sep 2012 and worked for GE Healthcare for a year while going through the Lateral Transfer process to join the ADF.

He joined the ADF (RAEME) as a Corporal in Oct 2013 and was posted to Darwin. During his time in Darwin, he served at 1 CSSB, NORFORCE, 1 Aviation Regiment, and HQ 1 Brigade (on promotion to Sergeant). He was subsequently posted to 2 Health Battalion in Brisbane, before transferring to SERCAT 5 and taking up a position with BAE Systems Australia in Cairns, working on the HISS Project for the Royal Australian Navy. He maintains a further military connection working as a Recruiting SGT at 51 FNQR as a Reservist.

Graeme is married to Sarah, and they have 2 children, Lewis, who is 25, and Jaydon who is 16. They live in Redlynch and enjoy seeing all that the region has to offer.

Graeme is looking forward to helping Cairns RSL Sub Branch thrive and move forward in assisting veterans both young and old.

John McDonough


Most of my working career has been in the military.  I served in the Army for many years my role was in combat operations, training and administration I reached the position of middle management.

Working in security I had to deal with major companies. I was the owner of a successful small business employing staff from junior to senior level.

I have held many positions in the RSL from a member of a committee to sub branch secretary and delegate on district council.

I am a past Legatee.

My aim is to serve as a member of a team which helps with health and social welfare of veterans of all conflicts.