Royal Australian Navy members proudly represented the Australian Defence Force at the Canberra Pasifika Youth Day recently celebrating Pacific Islander achievement, culture and contribution.
Lieutenant Commander Rose Apikotoa led the small contingent giving motivational speeches to teenagers of Pacific Island heritage.
Conducted by the Australian National University, Pasifika Australia brings Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales Year 9 and 10 students together to learn about employment and tertiary education pathways.
Lieutenant Commander Apikotoa, who had the opportunity to complete both a Bachelors and Masters degree during her Navy service, is also heavily involved in Navy Rugby - managing the service women's side.
“In a predominantly migrant community, these stories help to promote higher education and alternate employment pathways to today’s youth where you can succeed in life whilst maintaining your cultural identity,” Lieutenant Commander Apikotoa said.
Lieutenant Commander Apikotoa challenged the teenagers to follow the example of their ancestors, to "carve their own paths" and not to be afraid to try something different whether it be in, or outside the military.
She shared her story alongside other Navy members; Lieutenant Vaoafi Hart, Leading Seaman Maritime Logistics - Personnel Elijah Tauati, Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Supply Chain Saluluelanei Gray, Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Support Operations Phoebe Evans and Able Seaman Marine Technician Noah Tearoiti.
"Events such as this are important to show case the stories of Australian Defence Force members of Pacific Island heritage,” Lieutenant Commander Apikotoa said.
The program is also aimed at increasing tertiary participation in students with Papua New Guinean, New Zealand or Marshall Island background.
For more information visit http://pasifika.anu.edu.au/pasifika-youth-workshop.