No 6 Wing, Australian Air Force Cadets recently held its annual conference at RAAF Edinburgh, although with a refreshing new format.
This was summarised by the Officer Commanding, Wing Commander (AAFC) Peter Gill in his first dozen words in opening the conference: “Today is about the start of a new era for 6 Wing”.
The Australian Air Force Cadets enters 2017 with a new national Commander and Deputy Commander, some restructuring, and a new budget process. To support this, the 6 Wing gathering was structured along the lines of a corporate conference where topics were assigned specifically to meet the needs of the participants (based on responses to an online survey). Further, the sessions were interactive and not simply lectures, giving the participants more opportunity to be involved and share information.
The Officer Commanding presented the National AAFC 2020 Development Plan, and discussed the new budget process. Other staff facilitated sessions on Aviation Operations, Complaint Management, Work, Health & Safety, Recruiting and Community Engagement, and Logistics.
One session allowed participants to share and discuss ideas for developing a varied and exciting squadron program – as a means of supporting recruitment, but more importantly perhaps for encouraging retention. The role of the Cadet Executive Officer was discussed, and consideration given to the processes used by squadrons to select candidates for promotion courses.
A related session looked at the extra-curricular program, also a valuable tool to support retention, and considered innovative ideas for activities and how to implement them within a squadron.
The Wing Warrant Officer, WOFF (AAFC) Henry Bell, said, “One of my projects over these next couple of years is to encourage Cadets and staff into researching and taking pride in their unit histories”. He facilitated a session on Unit Esprit de Corps and Standards, looking at concepts to enhance unit identity and morale using mechanisms ranging from squadron badges and banners to community exposure through Freedom of Entry parades, while applying appropriate discipline to maintain standards.
Flight Lieutenant (AAFC) Rae Nicholas, who arranged the conference, led a session which discussed mechanisms for having the cadet experience recognised outside of the AAFC.
FLTLT (AAFC) Nicholas said, “It was most pleasing to see the number of senior Cadets who not only attended, but actively contributed their ideas, both in the formal sessions and during the informal networking opportunities”.
The Officer Commanding said: “This is the start of moving 6 Wing forward”. With the National Development Plan underpinning everything the Wing does from here on in, No 6 Wing now has a chance to develop its own ‘roadmap’ for growth over the next few years – to gain staff and reach the allocated cadet establishment ceiling, to meet planning timelines, and to comply with governance requirements . . . while concurrently delivering a leading contemporary aviation-based youth program to cadets throughout South Australia and Mildura.