It is a pity i didnot see the post a few months ago.
My dad was RAF and was on the Empire star when it left Singapore. He escaped the attack on the ship and he escaped and evaded the japs parashooted into Sumatra. He made his way to be picked up to what was then Indian.
I dont recall him referring to any Aussie deserters.
He left a record of events and i will check it again.
I cannot ask him as he died aged 100 on 11th sept 2017.