Navy training aimed at building resilience among indigenous youth

Published on SBLT Kat Mulheron (author), ABIS James McDougall (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Cerberus

Leading Seaman Physical Training Instructor Luke Ettridge (right) assists one of the Australian Football League (AFL) Flying Boomerangs before abseiling from the high ropes tower at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria. (photo: ABIS James McDougall)
Leading Seaman Physical Training Instructor Luke Ettridge (right) assists one of the Australian Football League (AFL) Flying Boomerangs before abseiling from the high ropes tower at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria.

HMAS Cerberus has hosted young players, coaching and support staff from the AFL Flying Boomerangs squad as part of a personal development and leadership program for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders between 14-15 years old. The players were introduced to training, Navy style, through program designed to test and strengthen their resilience.
 
The players were selected by AFL talent managers based on their school attendance, leadership skills and football ability. Gaining entry to the squad is quite an achievement. Players were selected from around Australia with this year’s squad having successful players from South Australia, Northern Territory, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania.

Leading Seaman Physical Training Instructor Ash Correa watches as two of the Australian Football League (AFL) Flying Boomerangs abseil from the high ropes tower at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria.

Leading Seaman Physical Training Instructor Ash Correa watches as two of the Australian Football League (AFL) Flying Boomerangs abseil from the high ropes tower at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria.


 
Jason Mifsud, AFL Head of Diversity, explained that the camp schedule addresses the four key pillars of the program; communication, resilience, decision making and identity. He also expressed how valuable it was for the players to be exposed to the different training environments and cultural settings.
 
“These young men will develop leadership skills that will help them on their journey and provide them opportunities to play at an elite level,” Mr Mifsud said.
 
“This program offers opportunities and experiences that can shape them not only as indigenous players but as individuals. The teamwork and camaraderie that Navy cultivates shows these young men no matter where you came from or where you’re going, you have a team and family ready to help you.”
 
Commanding Officer HMAS Cerberus, Captain Stephen Bowater, was pleased to have the Flying Boomerangs train on the base, giving sailors and indigenous players a chance to learn from each other.
 
“These young men are going through similar challenges every new sailor experiences. They don’t know each other; they’re facing some fairly intense personal and physical challenges, and they have to find a way to get themselves and their team mates through that,” Captain Bowater said.
 
The Flying Boomerangs’ fitness and resilience was strongly tested during their visit to Cerberus as they endured three days of military fitness testing, battle physical training, abseiling, team and leadership exercises.

The Australian Football League (AFL) Flying Boomerangs participants at the HMAS Cerberus training camp at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria.

The Australian Football League (AFL) Flying Boomerangs participants at the HMAS Cerberus training camp at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria.


The Boomerangs strives to be more than a simple football program, with the AFL endeavouring to prepare the next generation of young indigenous leaders with the skills, qualities and experiences to become positive role models in their own families and communities.

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20143560.