A group of Indigenous Australian youths explored life in the Army during a work experience day at 10 Force Support Battalion (10 FSB) in Bindal Country, Townsville.
CAPTION: Khalia, Anne and Brieanna, from Stars Foundation, participate in a mock firefighting drill with 9 Petroleum Platoon, Lavarack Barracks as part of a Defence Work Experience Day. Story by Captain Annie Richardson. Photo by Corporal Ashely Hetherington.
Twenty six school students from Indigenous youth development programs, coordinated by the Clontarf Academy and the Stars Foundation, spent a day at the battalion as a part of the Defence Work Experience Program (DWEP).
10 FSB Indigenous Liaison Officer Warrant Officer Class Two Kevin Batiste said the DWEP day was a result of a yarning circle discussion.
“We gathered ideas earlier this year about how 10 FSB can support the younger Indigenous generation,” WO2 Batiste said.
“This resulted in a member contacting his cousin at the Clontarf Foundation, and it just took off from there.”
Capitalising on the opportunity to develop junior leaders, WO2 Batiste said 10 FSB encouraged soldiers to volunteer to mentor the students.
“We partnered with Defence Force Recruiting and had an overwhelming response; this meant all the students were provided one-on-one time with a soldier mentor,” he said.
The students, who have an interest in a career in the Army, spent the day learning field craft, practising soldiering skills and gaining hands-on experience as they discovered the career pathways and supportive environment offered by a career in the Army.
The students started their day in personnel modules on the back of a medium heavy capability 40M truck, and were driven to a training area at Lavarack Barracks.
The students were allocated a mentor, then taken into a field environment to set up a hutchie, cook ration packs, and learn about camouflage and concealment.
Students also visited some of the specialist trades of 10 FSB and undertook simulated firefighting at 9 Petroleum Platoon, racing each other to roll out fire hoses and hose down targets.
At 4/12 Ammunition Platoon, the students threw practice grenades, then tried on the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) suit and worked with the EOD robot.
The day ended with a Defence Force Recruiting presentation, explaining the career opportunities and pathways available to Indigenous students.
WO2 Batiste said the day was a unique opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students of Far North Queensland to get a taste of life in Defence.
“Hosting a DWEP is not about a show-and-tell of equipment; it is about involving the students and allowing them to experience what soldiers experience,” he said.
“We put them in a simulated field environment, marched them around, only fed them a ration pack, and yet they wanted more. From all reports, the students had a ‘deadly’ day.”
The visit highlighted the skills of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and women at 10 FSB, and reinforced Defence’s commitment to attract young Indigenous Australians to a career in the ADF.
Since the day, six students have applied for the ADF, and 10 FSB has committed to making the DWEP an annual event with the Clontarf Academy and the Stars Foundation.