All twenty recruits who participated in the second iteration of Navy’s Defence Indigenous Development Program (DIDP) graduated in a ceremony held in HMAS Cairns on 18 December.
From communities as far afield as Perth, Port Headland, Torres Strait, Canberra and Cairns, the young indigenous men and women received graduation certificates and accolades from Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, their instructing staff, local Elder Ms Henrietta Marrie and head of Defence’s People Group and Culture, Mr Richard Oliver.
Congratulating every participant in the program, Vice Admiral Barrett said that Navy stood to gain substantially by attracting young indigenous youth into the ranks.
“No doubt all the participants learnt from their experiences, but Navy stands to benefit from what we can learn from these indigenous youth. Make no mistake, they may be young, but they have a lot to offer Navy with their strong cultural heritage and the way they conduct themselves,” he said.
The recruits were enlisted in Navy for a period of six months, during which they travelled to HMAS Cerberus for mandatory military training, then Canberra for cultural development, including a trip to the Australian War Memorial, to Sydney where they were exposed to Navy establishments and ships and finally back to HMAS Cairns, where they conducted academic studies to prepare them for general entry into Navy should they wish to pursue that career on graduation.
The recruits have attended TAFE and Maritime College to study English, Maths and Maritime Operations. They also experienced various indigenous cultural and military activities and training, including representational events such as Navy Week celebrations and the inaugural Remembrance Day at the Afghanistan Avenue of Honour, Yungaburra.
Of the twenty recruits in the intake, eighteen are expected to begin training at Cerberus early in the new year and one will join the Air Force. The final recruit will head back to their community taking with them personal and professional growth gained in the program.
The DIDP was established in 2010. It has proven to be a very positive program that has significantly increased recruitment from indigenous Australia, strengthening diversity within Defence. It is also a continuation of the long tradition of indigenous people contributing to the defence of Australia and becoming role models for people in their communities.