Navy closing the gap

Published on LEUT Robert Valler (author)

Recruits polish their boots as part of the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan. (photo: Unknown)
Recruits polish their boots as part of the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan.

Undertaking initial training is arguably a life changing experience for all sailors in the Royal Australian Navy, and for the 15 most recently enlisted Indigenous Recruits it promises to make a positive change for not only themselves but for the wider community.  

As part of the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan, Navy launched the first Defence Indigenous Development Program–Navy, in Cairns, in March 2014, and since then 43 Indigenous Australians, across two intakes, have completed the program.  

Recruits conduct the intial entry swim test as part of the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan.

Recruits conduct the intial entry swim test as part of the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan.

The current intake is currently at HMAS Cerberus in Victoria, undertaking the induction phase of the program and will travel to HMAS Harman, in Canberra, and Fleet Base East in Sydney, before returning to Cairns.

There they will complete a further four months of intensive training in literacy, numeracy, maritime studies, physical fitness, cultural development and military compliance.  

Officer in Charge of the program, Lieutenant Commander Luke Weston, said that the the program was instilling confidence and pride in participants.

“Recruits who are selected for continued service in the Navy, commonly find themselves taking up leadership and mentoring roles within their Division at Recruit School – truly closing the gap,” he said.

Depending on their performance throughout the program, participants may be offered continued service in the Navy, Army or Airforce, a position within the Australian Public Service or transition back to civilian life; taking with them the qualifications and experience they have achieved throughout the previous five months.  

The success of the program is unprecedented for the Navy in achieving the objectives of the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan.