Twenty three young men and women Navy recruits graduated from the Defence Indigenous Development Program North Queensland (DIDP-NQ) at a ceremony held at HMAS Cairns earlier this week.
This program, the first coordinated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) for Defence Indigenous Affairs, provides an opportunity for young indigenous people from remote areas to experience life skills, education, and gain confidence to prepare them to secure and sustain employment of their choice in the RAN.
The Officer-in-Charge of DIDP-NQ, Lieutenant Commander Anne Mena, was extremely proud of the achievements of the 23 recruits, who have undergone five months of Military and TAFE education and training.
“We commenced the course with 23 recruits, and we have 23 graduating. I could not be prouder of every single recruit, and of my staff, for their dedication and accomplishment.
“The success of this first Navy run Defence Indigenous Development Program is not only significant for Defence and Navy, but also for the recruits and their families and communities who have supported them from the start,” Lieutenant Commander Mena said.
The Reviewing Officer for the graduation ceremony, Rear Admiral Mark Campbell, CSC, RAN, Head of Navy Capability, reflected on the importance of the active indigenous participation across the Australian Defence Force in the past and the present, and for the future.
“The Navy is delighted to be part of the Defence Indigenous Development Program and has reached a point where our sailors are proud to see the contribution of indigenous sailors recognised, proud to see what their culture brings to the Navy and that it is recognised and integrated into even our most formal of ceremonies.
“Equally important, we have indigenous members of the Navy who are proud that the organisation ‘gets it’ and encourages the fusion and expression of both their naval and indigenous heritage,” said Rear Admiral Campbell.
Defence Indigenous Affairs is part of the Defence People group, lead by the Deputy Secretary of Defence People, Ms Rebecca Skinner.
“The Defence Indigenous Development Program North Queensland is of critical importance to the Australian Defence Force as it continues to focus on inclusion and diversity.
“I am proud of the achievement of this group of young women and men who have clearly had good role-modelling in Navy values of honour, honesty, courage, integrity and loyalty,” Ms Skinner said.
Recruit Naomi Singleton, from the Yirakandji Community in the Cairns region described the highlight as being the initial few weeks conducted at the RAN Recruit School at HMAS Cerberus.
“While we were at Recruit School we got a real feel for our life ahead as a recruit, getting up each day at 4:30am, doing physical training, damage control exercises and other Naval training.
“I am looking forward to completing Recruit School and going on to become a Marine Technician,” Recruit Singleton said.
Recruit Allan Anderson from the Atherton Tablelands was recognised as the overall ‘Recruit of the Program’.
“When we went to Cerberus we were given a glimpse at what is to come in our future training, but with the last five months in the Defence Indigenous Development Program I feel like I am ready to take on the challenge,” Recruit Anderson said.
The graduation ceremony began with a Welcome to Country by Professor Henrietta Marrie, and a performance by the Navy’s Indigenous Performance group, Bungaree. The event concluded with several performances prepared and delivered by members of the graduating class.
After graduating from the Program, most of the recruits will go on to complete Recruit Training, before specialising in a diverse range of job categories within the Navy, including Medics, Boatswains Mates, Combat Systems Operators, Communications and Information Systems sailors and Marine Technicians. One of the recruits is set to join the Royal Australian Air Force, while others plan to join the Australian Public Service.
The DIDP-NQ is a part the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan and the Defence Indigenous Employment Strategy. The DIDP-NQ continues the long and rich history of indigenous Australians who have contributed and who continue to contribute to the defense of Australia.
For more information visit http://www.defence.gov.au/code/indigenous.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20142170.