Indigenous work experience program gives a taste of Navy life

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Andrew Herring (author), POIS Lee-Anne Cooper (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Albatross, NSW, HMAS Creswell, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Albatross, HMAS Creswell, Work Experience Program

Indigenous Defence Work Experience Program participant Jada Brown tries on firefighting equipment by Able Seaman Aviation Support Emma Stewart during a tour of HMAS Albatross, NSW. (photo: POIS Lee-Anne Cooper)
Indigenous Defence Work Experience Program participant Jada Brown tries on firefighting equipment by Able Seaman Aviation Support Emma Stewart during a tour of HMAS Albatross, NSW.

Seven Indigenous young people recently got a taste of navy life at HMAS Albatross as part of the Indigenous Defence Work Experience Program.

The busy three-day program included a range of selected tours, visits and experiences designed to give the broadest possible experience of Navy life to Indigenous young people aged 17 to 20 years.

Following a tour of the Fleet Air Arm Museum, the budding aviators tried their hand at flying on the LCD-screen and virtual reality headset flight simulators before stepping into the fully-fledged simulators used by trainee pilots in the Helicopter Aircrew Training System.

Indigenous Defence Work Experience Program participants with sailors from 808 SQN, from left, Petty Officer Aviation Technician - Avionics Samuel Nixon; Leading Seaman Aircrewman Liam Sulley; Petty Officer Aviation Technician - Avionics Phillip Black; and Leading Seaman Aircrewman Benjamin Nixon.

Indigenous Defence Work Experience Program participants with sailors from 808 SQN, from left, Petty Officer Aviation Technician - Avionics Samuel Nixon; Leading Seaman Aircrewman Liam Sulley; Petty Officer Aviation Technician - Avionics Phillip Black; and Leading Seaman Aircrewman Benjamin Nixon.

They also got first-hand experience of MH-60R Seahawk Romeo aircrew training simulators.

Participants’ first hand experiences also included seeing Helicopter Underwater Escape Training up close - without enduring the full rigours of the course.

The schedule also included visits to 808 Squadron to hear about the operation and maintenance of the MRH90 Taipan helicopter, the air traffic control tower and to the medics, boatswains mates and aviation support sailors to hear about different Navy career opportunities.

A visit to HMAS Creswell for physical training activities allowed participants to experience the challenges of Navy training, with several participants showing great determination to complete the overwater obstacle course.

A yarning circle with members of Navy’s Indigenous dance group Bungaree, who were at Albatross for NAIDOC Week events, gave the youngsters a chance to hear real experiences of Indigenous Navy members.

Petty Officer Aviation Technician Avionics, Phillip Black, who coordinated the inaugural program at Albatross along with Petty Officer Aviation Technician Airframes Brett Cevasco, said the program was well received.

“They loved it. It really opened their eyes.

“The Indigenous culture is often introverted, but this program allowed us to really connect with these young people and by the end of the three days they came out of their shells.

“We wanted to give them a real taste of the challenges and opportunities of Navy life and training in a safe and controlled environment.

“Some of these participants are just curious about Defence, but others are deeply committed to a future with Navy and have had their eyes opened to the many career opportunities and training Navy offers,” Petty Officer Black said.

A similar visit by another group of Indigenous young people is planned for later this year.

The Indigenous Work Experience Program is part of a wider work experience initiative that arranges visits to Defence bases across NSW.