Neryl Joyce was the daughter of an Infantry Army Officer and grew up in various locations on the east coast of Australia and Papua New Guinea.
After leaving high school with aspirations of attaining a University degree, reality set in and she found herself instead, scanning items as a checkout operator at the local Woolworths store.
Not content with living a life without meaningful purpose, she decided to follow in her father’s footsteps and joined the Australian army. Neryl became a Military Police Officer and completed the highly sought after Close Personal Protection Course. She also became a single mother to her young son when her partner of five years left her at the height of her career.
In late 2004, Neryl left the army and took up close protection work in Iraq with a private military company. She was quick to learn the vast differences between the army and private military companies, and soon learnt that money didn’t necessarily attract the best operators.
Lucrative contracts and healthy pay packets saw the formation of ‘Boy’s Clubs ’ where charismatic characters were thrust into leadership positions well above their abilities. Those on the ‘outer’ or whose faces didn’t necessarily fit were offered menial and dangerous tasks that were often accepted in fear of losing their jobs.
In April 2005, a bizarre twist of fate saw Neryl unable to take her position in the team that were ambushed and gunned down on the infamous ‘Route Irish’ resulting in the death of the first Australian contractor and two other team members.
Soon after the incident, Neryl took up a position with the infamous American company Blackwater Security Consulting, providing close personal protection to staff involved with the upcoming Iraqi Presidential election.
Shortly after taking on this role, Neryl fell victim to an unscrupulous American male team member who laced her drink and raped her, as she lay unconscious in her room. Heavily sedated, Neryl managed to fight off her attacker and make for safety.
Knowing that the events in Iraq had the ability to destroy her resolve, Neryl chose to rise above adversity and not be a victim.
In 2010, Neryl took up the position of Operations Manager at an Immigration Detention Centre on Christmas Island and by early 2011; she was promoted to Centre Manager.
Her time on the island saw Neryl pulling corpses from the water after the ‘Boat Tragedy of 2010, threats to her life by detainees, lip sewing, self-harm attempts and regular protests. She managed her centre through the unprecedented number of boat arrivals, and led her team during the worst riots ever experienced in Australian immigration detention history.
Neryl has a published book titled “Mercenary Mum” which reveals what she had to overcome in order to succeed as a woman, and a mother, in the dangerous world of high-risk security. She is currently working on her second book, which details the explosive life she led whilst running a detention centre on Christmas Island.