Twenty-one Indigenous recruits consisting of 12 females and 9 males, ranging in age from 18 to 30, enlisted into the Royal Australian Navy on 13 February, as part of the Navy Indigenous Development Program.
The program is a five month residential course which has been designed to assist Indigenous Australians in reaching the required standard to permanently enlist into the Australian Defence Force, by developing their leadership skills, physical fitness, military knowledge, personal values and behaviours and improving their literacy and numeracy levels.
Under the program, the sailors joined Navy on a six month contract as ‘non-specific category entries’.
As part of the program the new recruits travelled to the Royal Australian Navy Recruit School at HMAS Cerberus, at Crib Point, Victoria, where they spent three weeks learning how to wear their uniforms correctly, how to march, how to adapt to living in a communal environment and other basic military skills.
In Melbourne, the Navy Indigenous Development Program (NIDP) recruits enjoyed a visit to the Melbourne Museum and also took part in the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Tour.
“I’m really enjoying the military training so far, but not so much the Melbourne weather,” Recruit George Dorante, from Cairns, said.
Recruit Dorante added that he was surprised to learn at the museum that Australia’s first cricket team to visit England in 1868 were actually all Indigenous.
The recruits will soon travel to Canberra, in the Australian Capital Territory, and visit the Australian War Memorial, where they will learn about our military history and more specifically our Indigenous Servicemen and Women’s contributions.
They’ll also participate in the Last Post Ceremony, have a look around Parliament House and then visit the Australian National Museum, where they’ll have the opportunity to look at an extensive display of Indigenous paintings and artefacts.
After that, they’ll head to Sydney, New South Wales, for base familiarisation tours of HMAS Waterhen, including a tour of the Huon Class Minehunter HMAS Huon (II), and HMAS Penguin where they’ll tour the Australian Defence Force Diving School, the Maritime Geospatial Training Centre and Royal Australian Navy Medical School.
While in Sydney they will also visit the Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour to discover more about Australia’s Maritime history, and the Naval Heritage Centre at Garden Island Dockyard, where there’s an extensive collection of Naval memorabilia. Their trip to Sydney will include cultural tours and team building activities.
Following their visits to Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney, the recruits will return to Cairns, Queensland, where they’ll focus on their literacy and numeracy, military skills, physical fitness, vocational education and training, cultural appreciation and leadership and character development.
At the end of the program the participants may have the option of either continuing with a career in the Australian Defence Force, or returning to civilian life and their communities, equipped with new work place skills which will improve their chances of obtaining gainful employment in their chosen careers.