RAAF Base Amberley recently hosted a group of participants in the Defence Indigenous Youth Work Program.
CAPTION: Students participating in the Indigenous Youth Program at RAAF Base Amberley. Story by Emily Egan.
The program is designed to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students the opportunity to experience Defence culture and learn about the various roles undertaken by Royal Australian Air Force aviators.
A group of 10 local high school students aged between 15-18 visited the base for a unique blend of team-building exercises and a safe place to discuss culture and identity.
Under the supervision of Defence youth mentors, students were integrated into the team, including being issued their own uniforms. Students stayed on the base overnight, dining at the on-base mess and participating in a number of hands-on activities focused on further developing their teamwork and leadership skills, while also learning about the many career pathways Air Force can offer.
Corporal Matthew Bell, one of the Defence youth mentors, said he witnessed substantial growth in the students in a short period.
“I ask them on day one what they want to be, and on day three it is always something different,” Corporal Bell said.
“That’s what we want – to show them the possibilities, because you can’t be what you can’t see.
“I love seeing the mindset change, with students asking ‘What is the next step for me?’ and seeing them forward-planning their future career.”
Indigenous Liaison Officer at RAAF Base Amberley Flight Lieutenant Sarah Woods is passionate about the program, in particular the opportunity for cultural engagement and storytelling.
“The program provides hands-on experiences that showcase the wide range of career opportunities available in the Air Force,” she said.
“Students are given the opportunity to witness the diverse role of the largest Air Force base in Australia. They experience operations under the close supervision of highly professional Defence Force personnel.
“More importantly, students start sharing their own stories. Storytelling is central to our culture; sharing their story and being united is great to see.”