Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 7 2010 Contents 24 www.defence.gov.au/defencemagazine
The development of Indigenous recruitment and retention initiatives highlighted the agenda at the
annual the Defence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) Conference.
By Aoife Cooper
RIgHT: Participants at the 2010 Defence Aboriginal and
Torres Straight Islander Conference at HMAS Cerberus.
aBOVe: A few of the lads gather for a photo at the
2010 Defence Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander
Photos: Leading Seaman Nina Nikolin
The Conference, held at HMAS Cerberus from 7-9
July, offered a valuable opportunity for Defence
Indigenous personnel to network and leverage
important consultation mechanisms to support
the Directorate of Indigenous Affairs’ (IA) Defence
Reconciliation Action Plan 2010-14.
In attendance at the forum, there were 84 ADF
and APS Indigenous delegates from a range of
locations, including the Pilbara, North Queensland,
and as far as Dili in East Timor.
Adopted into the conference was the 2010
National NAIDOC theme: “Unsung heroes, closing
the gap by leading their way”.
Following the arrival of the attendees, the
Conference was opened in high spirits with a
warm welcome from the Commanding Officer of
HMAS Cerberus, Captain Mark Hill. In addition, a
traditional Welcome to Country acknowledgement
was conducted by Uncle Bob Austin, from the
Willum Warrum Foundation, which saw the
conference progress to the official activities.
Sessions conducted by IA staff included cultural
integration, IA managers’ reports and several open
forums which saw attendees provide honest and
frank advice on Defence Indigenous inicatives.
Tied into the sessions were important discussions
on the significance of Government’s strategy to
commit to increasing Indigenous employment in
the Public Sector to 2.7 per cent by 2015.
Suggestions were sought on how Defence can
continue to ‘close the gap’, engage Indigenous
personnel, target and market for Indigenous
job seekers, implement cultural awareness and
integration in Defence, and how to enhance
Indigenous support mechanisms, pre-employment,
retention and mentoring programs.
Defence aims to increase the current Indigenous
representation from 1.4 per cent to beyond 2.7
per cent by 2015. The goal of Government and
Defence’s current Indigenous representation
supports the words of Director of Indigenous
Affairs Ms Soozie Parker, who said “There is a lot
more to be done”.
In addition, traditional stories were told by several
Defence personnel and guests, including former
Indigenous Commonwealth athlete Kyle Vander-
Kuyp, and Aunty Dot Peters, a respected Elder of
the Healesville community.
“Story telling is always a great way of getting
knowledge and history out to people, as it has
been used for thousands of years,” APS attendee
Mr Matthew Trynes said.
APS attendee from Puckapunyal, Ms Christine
Cummins said, “The stories were well received. It’s
great to see how the speakers got to where they
are in Defence and what it took to get them there”.
Other agenda items included a session conducted
by the head of Victoria’s Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Ian
Hamm, which provided insight on what Victoria is
doing to close the gap.
Several mentoring workshops conducted by the
Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre enabled
attendees to complete training modules on building
successful and enduring mentoring relationships
and providing advice.
Appearances by the Melbourne Comedy festival
Deadly funny winners Kevin Kropenyeri and
Shiralee Hood, local Indigenous musician Jayden
Lillyst, Melbourne’s The Liz Cavanagh Trio and the
B Jazz HMAS Cerberus Jazz band also rounded off
Ms Parker meanwhile said the Conference will
continue to position the work of Indigenous Affairs
into the future.
“It is hoped that this Conference will assist us all
to understand that in keeping with the NAIDOC
theme, we need to nurture and grow our future
generation of Defence Indigenous members and
Ms Cummins also urged people to get in touch
with Indigenous Affairs.
“You can make a difference by having a say at
these conferences. Indigenous Affairs wants to
hear from us,” Ms Cummins said.
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