Indigenous recruits ready for the next chapter

This article has photo gallery Published on SBLT Nancy Cotton (author), Andrew Watson (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Cairns, QLD

Topic(s): Graduation, Navy Indigenous Development Program

Commanding Officer HMAS Cairns, Commander Glenn Williams OAM, RAN presents Seaman Evelyn Sagigi with the Navy Values Award for the Navy Indigenous Development Program during the Graduation Parade held in Cairns, Queensland. (photo: Andrew Watson)
Commanding Officer HMAS Cairns, Commander Glenn Williams OAM, RAN presents Seaman Evelyn Sagigi with the Navy Values Award for the Navy Indigenous Development Program during the Graduation Parade held in Cairns, Queensland.

Twenty-one recruits who took part in the Navy Indigenous Development Program stood proudly on 22 June, graduating from the five-month course at HMAS Cairns.

The development program supports young Indigenous adults to improve fitness and the academic requirements for a career in the Australian Defence Force, Australian Public Service or a recent initiative partnered with Directorate of Indigenous Affairs for further training and development.

Equipping the young adults with new career skills, the Navy Indigenous Development Program is one of two pathway initiatives the Navy offers.

This program and the Indigenous Pre-Recruitment Program closely align with the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan and the Australian Government’s agreement on Closing the Gap.

Officer in Charge of the Navy Indigenous Development Program for the Royal Australian Navy, Lieutenant Commander Mark Tandy, described it as an amazing program that’s part of Navy’s contribution to the Closing the Gap initiative.

“The course is designed to develop Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young adults and it does so really well, providing structure, helping them to develop leadership skills and confidence in themselves and working in groups,” Lieutenant Commander Tandy said.

Faced with the challenges of COVID-19, the instructors adapted the course and quickly moved to take the TAFE components into an online environment.

For Recruit Evelyn Sagigi, she was not going to let anything stop her achieving her goal. From Year 8 at school she knew she wanted a career in the Royal Australian Navy.

“My parents encouraged me early to really think about my future.

“My brother and cousin are both in the Navy and I knew I wanted to join,” Recruit Sagigi said.

The program not only takes recruits on a cultural journey, but allows for them to visit many significant places around Australia, including HMAS Cerberus, which was a highlight for Recruit Sagigi.

“I’m really looking forward to Recruit School. It was great to have a look and see what it’s like, although having grown up in the tropics - it’s going to be cold for me,” Recruit Sagigi said.

She wasn’t the only one who valued the opportunity, with Recruit Joshua Daw agreeing the Base visit was a standout moment of the course.

“It’s great to be able to dip your toes in the water and know a little of what to expect.

“I feel very fortunate to have been afforded this opportunity.

“Other standouts for me was the walk to Fort Nepean and the trip to the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

“I’m grateful to have exposure to those trips on this course,” Recruit Daw said.

For Recruits continuing with careers in the Royal Australian Navy, they will begin 11 weeks of basic training at the Royal Australian Navy Recruit School, HMAS Cerberus on 29 June along with graduates from the Indigenous Pre-Recruit Program.

For more information about the Indigenous Development Program or Indigenous Pre-Recruit Program the Australian Defence Force offer visit: www.defence.gov.au/APSCareers/Indigenous/ADF.