Seventeen Recruits stood tall in front of friends and family on 16 December, at a ceremony to recognise their graduation from the fourth iteration of the Navy-led Defence Indigenous Development Program.
The program was established in North Queensland in 2010, and has proven to significantly increase Defence recruitment from indigenous Australia, strengthening diversity and therefore capability.
Officer in Charge of the program for the Royal Australian Navy, Lieutenant Commander Luke Weston said the benefits were clear across the board.
"This program is a continuation of the long tradition of indigenous people contributing to the defence of Australia and becoming role models for people in their communities," he said.
"The success of these Recruits is a shining example of what can be achieved through embracing culture and diversity.
"With a one hundred per cent completion rate over four programs so far, it is a great initiative for not only Navy and Defence, but also the broader Australian community."
Part of Navy’s Indigenous Employment Strategy, the program is closely aligned to the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan and the Australian Government’s agreement to increase indigenous representation in the workforce.
One of the six female participants and Recruit of the Intake, Kelly Curry, was positive about the experience.
"The program has given me the opportunity to learn new skills, to absorb the knowledge of Navy life and the ability to share my Indigenous culture," she said.
The recruits underwent more than four months' military and TAFE education and training. An initial induction and familiarisation phase was held at HMAS Cerberus, in Victoria, and also in Sydney. Participants had the opportunity to experience three weeks at Navy's Recruit School and have an insight into Navy life and career pathways.
The recruits have attended TAFE and studied English,
Maths and Maritime Operations. They also experienced various indigenous cultural and military activities and training, including representational events such as Remembrance Day.
Recruit Karedeem Mills, said it was an "amazing experience".
"All of us in our class have grown in such a positive way," he said.
"The confidence we have developed individually and as a group will stay with us for life , as will the friendships we have formed.
"I am very proud of the people we have become and the new outlook we have on life."
Successful recruits may be offered the opportunity to extend their period of service and continue in the Australian Defence Force through general enlistment.