Students from the Clontarf Academy in Geraldton, Western Australia, were “wide-eyed” when they toured RAAF Base Pearce in early September.
CAPTION: Qualified flying instructor with No. 2 Flying Training School Flight Lieutenant Jonathan Lee and students from Clontarf Academy in front of a Pilatus PC-21 aircraft at RAAF Base Pearce. Story by Flight Lieutenant Steven Barrett.
The visit was organised by RAAF Base Pearce’s Indigenous liaison officer, Flight Lieutenant Tramaine Dukes, after she heard the students were heading to Perth for a football camp.
Geraldton is about a four-hour drive north of Perth, and the journey takes commuters right past the front gate of RAAF Base Pearce.
The stopover tour included static displays of aircraft from No. 2 Flying Training School and No. 79 Squadron, a look at the air traffic control tower, the gymnasium, and No. 25 Squadron’s mechanical equipment maintenance section.
The Year 10, 11 and 12 students were briefed by Defence Force Recruiting staff and treated to a tasty dinner in the airmen’s mess, courtesy of the base services’ contractor, Ventia.
Personnel from No. 7 Wing of the Australian Air Force Cadets also gave a presentation to the students.
Flight Lieutenant Dukes’ Indigenous engagement plan for RAAF Base Pearce identified the Clontarf Foundation as a key engagement objective.
“Air Force recognises the unique skill sets Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples bring to Defence,” Flight Lieutenant Dukes said.
“You can’t be what you can’t see.
“By engaging with the Clontarf Foundation, we can show students why Defence can be an employer of choice for them, contributing to the whole-of-government approach to helping close the gap for Australia’s First Nations peoples.”
Feedback from the students was resoundingly positive.
All said they enjoyed their time on base and many expressed surprise at the range of opportunities a career in Defence offered.
Clontarf Foundation operations officer and former Collingwood AFL player Dale Baynes said maintaining the students’ attention during the tout was not a problem.
“They were wide-eyed the whole time,” Mr Baynes said.
He thanked the personnel from RAAF Base Pearce for setting up the visit.
“It was unreal and definitely one of the best tours we have taken the boys on,” he said.