Sixteen students from rural and remote areas of NSW were treated to a week of activities showcasing Defence careers as part of the Indigenous Student Defence Work Experience Program conducted from July 14-19.
The program, in its second year and sponsored by the National Rugby League (NRL) One Community in conjunction with the Department of Defence, included a two-day stopover at Port Stephens featuring tours of RAAF Base Williamtown and nearby Murrook Cultural Centre on Nelson Bay Road.
One of four chaperones and program host Warrant Officer Mark Donlan, said the program aimed to showcase a range of Defence career opportunities, building confidence and teamwork amongst students, fostering the development of young Australians.
“The 16 students - both indigenous and non-indigenous - were selected from schools in Narromine, Warren and Mudgee,” said WO Donlan.
“The students attending have been recognised through a rewards program by the school and or identified to benefit from exposure to ADF careers and lifestyle having indicated they may consider a career in the Forces.
“For many it is there first time away from family and their home town.”
The students enjoyed a full day’s touring at RAAF Williamtown on the Monday, spending time and talking with personnel from MEOMS (aviation maintenance trades), Fire Section (training exercise), WTSS (weapons familiarisation), PTI (physical fitness and team building), and 76SQN (including a Hawk jet aircraft visit).
For 16-year-old Lorna Hull, from Narromine, the visit to Port Stephens was a real eye-opener. “We had a great time at Murrook, learning about my indigenous culture and food and I have been very impressed with today’s RAAF visit,” she said.
“I want to join either the Police Force or Army and so seeing what happens on a [Defence] base is very interesting. I am hoping to go through and finish Year 10 this year so I can achieve my goal.”
Fellow Narromine High student Jake Carney, 15, watched in awe as the firefighters went through their drills in a simulated training exercise. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do before today but now I do. I think I want to become a fire-fighter,” he said.
Following their two days at RAAF Williamtown, the delegation travelled to Sydney for three days staying at HMAS Kuttabul on Garden Island.
“Wednesday was Navy day for the students but the program is not just about careers and recruitment presentations,” added WO Donlan. “There is a social aspect which included a cruise on Sydney Harbour and of course attending the NRL State of Origin match at Sydney’s Olympic Park, courtesy of the NRL One Community, which is one of the highlights for the majority of students.”
A spokesperson for the NRL One Community said the program aimed to assist indigenous job seekers and school leavers throughout NSW with the opportunity to connect with a selection of NSW most prominent employers, education and training providers with the support and direct involvement of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR).
Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20130812.