With both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, Sapper Jeirome Auda-Muckan is excited to be deployed on his first Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program (AACAP) in Gapuwiyak, Northern Territory.
CAPTION: Australian Army soldier Sapper Jeirome Auda-Muckan from the 6th Engineer Support Regiment uses spare materials to enhance the living quarters of AACAP 2022 contingent members living at Camp Birt near Gapuwiyak, on June 22. Story by Captain Evita Ryan. Photo by Corporal Lucas Petersen.
With his mother originally from Boigu Island in the Torres Strait and his father a Quandamooka man, from North Stradbroke Island in south-east Queensland, Sapper Auda-Muckan grew up close to his culture and family island group.
Originally from Brisbane, Sapper Auda-Muckan relocated to Horne Island in the Torres Strait with his parents and commenced high school at Thursday Island State High School before the family relocated back to Brisbane.
“My family would perform songs and dances at festivals, including during NAIDOC Week and the Coming of the Light holiday, and other special cultural days,” Sapper Auda-Muckan said.
“I’m proud to know my heritage, my identity, and who I am.
“Rather than being in the grey, I can trace my roots back and feel pride in where I’ve come from.”
Graduating from North Lakes State College as the Vice-Captain in 2016, Sapper Auda-Muckan considered studying engineering at university but instead enlisted in the ADF at the age of 17 to follow a career path in the Army.
Through the six-week Indigenous Pre-Recruit Program at the Army Recruit Training Centre at Blamey Barracks in Kapooka, NSW, Sapper Auda-Muckan said he was set up for success.
“From there it was a much easier transition into the recruit environment,” he said.
“I was a much smaller guy back then and it helped with my PT and my strength.”
Graduating from recruit training in 2017, Sapper Auda-Muckan completed the Basic Engineers Course followed by a Certificate III in Carpentry, which included two years of on-the-job training with private builders for certification as a carpenter before his posting to 6th Engineer Support Regiment in October 2021.
“It takes a long time to progress through the different phases of training so I was keen to get into the unit and use my trade skills,” Sapper Auda-Muckan said.
Now at his first AACAP, Sapper Auda-Muckan spent the past month in Gapuwiyak setting up Camp Birt in preparation for the main body to arrive.
“We started cranking out work as soon as we got here,” he said.
“It was all hands on deck until the infrastructure was in place.
“Then we started getting little carpentry and handyman requests, like extending the floor of a tent and building a little deck area with leftover materials.
“That was for the chefs, and you’ve got to look after the chefs.
“Plus it’s rewarding to build something that other people use every day.”
Now that AACAP 2022 has officially kicked off in Gapuwiyak, Sapper Auda-Muckan is looking forward to pulling on his nail bag and helping construct an Independent Youth Centre for the local community.
“AACAP is one of the reasons I joined Army to become a carpenter,” Sapper Auda-Muckan said.
“I’m excited to be involved in the construction of a complete build from the ground up and to be in community, showing them what I do as an Army Carpenter.”
While Sapper Auda-Muckan will miss this year’s NAIDOC Week celebrations at Musgrave Park in Brisbane, he’s looking forward to spending time in Gapuwiyak and joining in the community’s NAIDOC Week activities.
“I’m looking forward to meeting the mob,” Sapper Auda-Muckan said.
“It would be great to come back in a year or two and see how the community are using the facilities that we built for them.”