The latest recruits in the Navy Indigenous Development Program (NIDP) graduated at HMAS Cairns late last year.

CAPTION: Captain Warren Bairstow congratulates Navy Indigenous Development Program graduate Recruit Chanika Stack at HMAS Cairns. Photo by Andrew Watson.

A graduation ceremony for Course 14 ended five months of training that tested the recruits’ physical fitness and provided education opportunities through TAFE courses.

Training also exposed the recruits to a structured environment, personal cultural experiences and helped to develop confidence and important leadership skills.

Recruit Cherine Savage, who wants to pursue a career in nursing, said the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the course was special and she felt ready to take the next step.

“At times it was a roller-coaster of emotions, but it has changed my whole perspective on life, what I want and what I know I can achieve,” she said.

“The program really pushes and motivates you.”

CAPTION: Warrant Officer Jerry Savage, Leading Seaman Thomas Fujii, Leading Seaman Kyh Mye, Able Seaman Terry Waia, Seaman Joey Kura and Able Seaman Jacquelena Ahwang at the Navy Indigenous Development Program graduation ceremony. Photo by Andrew Watson.

Commanding Officer HMAS Creswell and Director Training Authority – Initial Training Leadership and Management Captain Warren Bairstow said he was honoured to be the reviewing officer at the graduation ceremony and praised the recruits for their efforts.

“Congratulations on achieving so much,” Captain Bairstow said at the graduation ceremony.

“This program offers you a professional and personal development path, gaining skills and experience you will use throughout your life.

“This program has exposed you to your inner being, but the learning does not stop here; this is just the beginning.

“Be proud of what you do, whatever the future holds for you.

“Be proud that you were part of the NIDP, and be sure to tell your story to others.”

Navy is committed to investing in the futures of indigenous men and women and the program is specifically designed to develop young adults.

NIDP aligns with the Australian government’s Defence Reconciliation Action Plan and Closing the Gap initiative.

Able Seaman Terry Waia is testament to what can come from participating in the Navy Indigenous Development Program, having graduated from the course in 2016.

“The program wasn’t anything like I expected,” Able Seaman Waia said.

“I thought it was going to be all ‘Navy’, but there was a lot of focus on culture and the instructors really recognised who we are and where we have come from.

“I’m now working at the Fleet Support Unit and really enjoy my job.

“I am grateful for the program and how it helped to prepare me for recruit school and my career in the Navy.”

For further information about the Navy Indigenous Development Program, visit

CAPTION: Recruits in the Navy Indigenous Development Program perform a cultural dance with the Gerib Sik Torres Strait Islander Dance Group during their graduation ceremony. Photo by Andrew Watson.