Defence capability and indigenous development has been boosted in the Top End with the opening of the Army’s newest training and education centre in Darwin.
CAPTION: Commander Regional Force Surveillance Group Colonel John Papalitsas, Commander Forces Command Major General Mathew Pearse and Commander 2nd Division Major General Kathryn Campbell officially open the Regional Force Surveillance Group Training and Education Centre on Defence Establishment Berrimah, Northern Territory. Photo by Corporal Rodrigo Villablanca.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the Regional Force Surveillance Group (RFSG) Training and Education Centre (RTEC) would support Australia’s border protection capability while delivering new education and employment opportunities for Indigenous Australians.
“RFSG is charged with patrolling the vast, remote landmass and waterways of Australia’s north and northwest – approximately 40% of our country,” Minister Reynolds said.
“I met with RFSG soldiers during my recent visit to the Top End in September, and was struck by their unity, support of one another and passion for the land.”
Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said the targeted training conducted by Army would help support the new National Agreement on Closing the Gap.
“We are committed to Closing the Gap, which is why today’s opening of the new training and education centre in Darwin is so important,” Minister Wyatt said.
“Army’s Indigenous Development Program lifts the general education standards of participants, which supports employment pathways for Indigenous Australians.
“It’s a testament to Army that its program has an 86 per cent graduation rate.”
Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester said the new training centre demonstrates Army’s commitment to the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan.
“The contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to our modern military history dates back to the Boer War over 120 years ago and today the Indigenous Army Reserve soldiers make up almost one third of the RFSG units,” Minister Chester said.
“The units draw heavily on the local knowledge of the Indigenous Army Reserve soldiers, however some potential recruits may be disadvantaged by insufficient education due to the remoteness of where they live. This Centre will help turn that around.”
Attending the official opening, Senator for the Northern Territory Sam McMahon said the new centre highlights a commitment to providing professional training and development opportunities to Indigenous soldiers in the Northern Territory.
“I’m pleased to see this centre now officially open in the Top End, which will provide professional training and development for Indigenous soldiers through a number of different courses, including the Army Indigenous Development Program,” Dr McMahon said.