Navy the ‘career of choice’ for indigenous students

This article has photo gallery Published on Ms Isabella Muckalt (author), LEUT Noel Smith (photographer)

Location(s): Cairns, Queensland

Hydrographers in Cairns recently hosted 24 students from Djarragun College onboard HMAS Leeuwin for a tour and Navy familiarisation visit. (photo: LEUT Noel Smith)
Hydrographers in Cairns recently hosted 24 students from Djarragun College onboard HMAS Leeuwin for a tour and Navy familiarisation visit.

Hydrographers in Cairns recently hosted 24 students from Djarragun College onboard HMAS Leeuwin for a tour and Navy familiarisation visit.
 
Djarragun College near Gordonvale, south of Cairns, is a private college attended predominantly by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from the Cairns, York Peninsula and Torres Straits areas. During the tour the students took the opportunity to ask questions about life in Navy and the Defence Force from members of the ship’s company. The students showed particular interest in activities on the bridge and upper decks.
 
The maritime connection is strong for many of the students from Northern Queensland coastal communities and the Torres Strait, and Navy is viewed by many of the students at Djarragun as being the service of choice for a career in the Australian Defence Force.

"Being up on the top deck and looking out over the ocean is how I want to work; I don’t want to be stuck all day inside working," said year 12 student Kabai Kabai.

Encouragingly, almost half of the students that volunteered to visit Leeuwin were female. 

Able Seaman Hydrographic Systems Operator Jessica Hall was one of the tour leaders onboard and spoke with the students about her positive experiences in Navy so far. 

Year 12 student Selina Toby was picturing herself in a similar role.

"It was good to see women on the boat as well; that could be me," she said. 

Fellow year 12 Shanita, agreed, "Being in the Defence Force would be a great way for me to study and gain experience."

Djarragun College Careers advisor Ms Mandy Ross declared the day an overwhelming success, with a number of students already submitting applications to join Navy and the Defence Indigenous Development Program after the completion of their studies. 

Further tours and engagement with Djarragun College is planned over the coming months, with a view to continuing the strong relationship between Navy and Indigenous students in North Queensland.