Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 5 2009 Contents 19
tanding proud and tall under the
fading orange glow of a Darwin
sunset, 20 new Army recruits
in the Defence Indigenous
Development Program proudly
received their slouch hat
and NORFORCe colour patch at a
The graduation parade marked the end of
the first phase of the seven-month pilot Program,
a joint initiative between the Department of
Defence, Department of Education, Employment
and Workplace Relations and the Northern
Territory Department of Education.
At the graduation ceremony, Commanding
Officer North West Mobile Force (NORFORCE)
Lieutenant Colonel (LTCOL) Chris Goldston said he
was proud of all the recruits and acknowledged
the challenges that each one will face during the
remaining six months of the program.
“The DIDP is an exciting program that will give
the participants a whole range of skills in many
different areas that they can take back to their
communities or continue to use if they decide to
remain serving in the Army,” LTCOL Goldston said.
The DIDP is an initiative that forms part of
the Army Indigenous Strategy and the wider ADF
Indigenous Employment Strategy.
The Directorate of Indigenous Affairs in
the People Strategies and Policy Group, was
formed in mid 2008 to provide a central point of
contact within Defence for Indigenous issues.
The Directorate takes responsibility for the
implementation of the Defence Reconciliation
Action Plan and the underpinning strategies
for the recruitment and retention of Indigenous
Australians to the ADF and the APS.
Director of Indigenous Affairs Soozie Parker
was at the graduation ceremony to see how the
new recruits were progressing.
“It has been no small step for these young
men here and the pride they feel is felt and shared
by all those who have worked hard to make this
possible,” Ms Parker said.
“The ADF Indigenous Employment Strategy
identifies specialised pathways to employment
for young Indigenous Australians and various
programs are now being trialled around Australia.
“Importantly, the DIDP recognises the importance
of developing specific programs for Indigenous
Australians from remote areas of Australia’s north. I
look forward to sharing the journey with these proud
young men,” Ms Parker said.
The DIDP has been designed to ensure that
Indigenous participants can develop a wide range of
useful skills including military, technical, educational
and personal development. These skills are then
used back in their communities or to assist them to
gain employment in regional Australia. The DIDP
will also prepare the recruits for entry consideration
into the Regular Army, should they wish to embark
on a full-time career in the ADF.
The instructors on the course have been
selected for their knowledge and experience with
“They will face many challenges living away
from home, their country and their family but the
instructors we have on the course have a long
history of working with Indigenous people. They
have an understanding of the culture and they will
assist the recruits in every way possible to make a
successful go of the course,” LTCOL Goldston said.
When recruiting for the course, DIDP
Community Liaison Officers went out to remote
communities to meet and conduct assessments on
potential recruits for the Program.
DIDP Community Liaison Officer Major
Jon Lotu visited the remote communities of
Hermannsburg, Ngukurr, Minyerrie, Borroloola, and
Numbulwar to engage councils, community elders,
residents and prospective applicants on what the
pilot Program had to offer.
“The interest we got from the five remote
Indigenous communities that we visited was very
positive and if this pilot Program is successful we
hope that we will be able to offer it on a much
wider scale next year,” he said.
“The people in the communities reacted really
positively when they heard that the participants
would be under the care of Defence members
experienced in training Indigenous patrolmen.
“The fact that it takes into consideration the
cultural responsibilities that many of the young
men have to their community is really important as
they can see we are in it for the long haul.
“One young man from Numbulwar told me
he wanted to join the Program to be someone and
in the eyes of many of these young men, Defence
offers an opportunity to prove their manhood in a
sense,” MAJ Lotu said.
The participants have started the Vocational
and Technical Education phase which is taught
at the Katherine campus of Charles Darwin
University. They will spend time on developing
their language, literacy and numeracy skills as well
as continue with more military training. This phase
of the course is designed to assist the participants
in improving their employment prospects in areas
such as land care management, construction and
Defence Magazine will follow the participants
as they continue on the course and will catch up
with them later on in the year.
By Leila Daniels and GNR Shannon Joyce
defence magazine ›
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