The Royal Australian Navy's second Defence Indigenous Development Program North Queensland (DIDP-NQ) welcomed twenty young indigenous Australians into its ranks at an enlistment ceremony held onboard HMAS Cairns on August 8.
The Defence Indigenous Affairs program follows on from the success of the first DIDP-NQ run by Navy, where all 23 participants graduated with twenty electing to further their careers with the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
It presents young indigenous people with a unique chance to experience what life in the military has to offer, with successful graduates having the opportunity to become full-fledged members of the ADF upon completion.
Commanding Officer of the RAN Recruit School, Commander (CMDR) Dugald Clelland, officiated the ceremony.
“It is a moment that will stay with these young people for the rest of their lives,” CMDR Clelland said.
He provided insight into the unique demands and challenges presented by military training and the importance of support and understanding from loved ones.
He also praised the achievements of the first Naval DIDP-NQ program.
“The success of the first program run by Navy reflects on the calibre of the people we have joining and the people we have running the program. You are our future and I feel very strongly that because of that, our future is in good hands,” CMDR Clelland said.
“Your culture and heritage is a rich tapestry that we in the ADF embrace,” he said.
The recruits hail from Far North Queensland, one from the Australian Capital Territory and two from Western Australia.
Over the next five months they will gain qualifications in literacy and numeracy at TAFE, expand their understanding of cultural education and participation, and develop their proficiency in military drill, leadership, physical fitness, team-work and life skills.
Following their enlistment, the DIDP-NQ intake proceeded directly to HMAS Cerberus to begin the first step of the program - three weeks of first aid instruction, physical training, sea survival, cultural training and familiarisation to Navy career pathways.
Recruit (RCT) Eric Law, from Cherbourg, QLD, is following in the footsteps of his cousin who graduated from the DIDP-NQ program in July.
“I have an interest in the history of the Defence Force as I have family that fought in Vietnam and World War II,” RCT Law said.
“I look forward to the challenges that a career in the military will present, and I want to take-charge, not just in the Navy but in life,” he said.
RCT Cassandra Kaigey from Cairns is similarly proud of her family’s fighting blood, with a grandfather who served in the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion in World War II.
“I am not looking forward to braving the winter chill of HMAS Cerberus but it will be the early starts that will be most testing,” RCT Kaigey said.
Visit the Defence website for information about Defence Indigenous Development Program.