A new partnership developed between Air Force and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) was celebrated during a recent trip to the Torres Strait Islands.
CAPTION: Indigenous Advisory Committee members Patrick Johnson, left, and Kyle Vander-Kuyp are joined by Air Mobility Group Warrant Officer Stephen Weaver, centre, in a race with local kids on Thursday Island. Story by Flight Lieutenant Suellen Heath. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Kate Czerny.
The NAIDOC Week trip saw a group of Air Force personnel accompanied by six Olympians and four Indigenous Olympian Coaching Scholarship holders visiting Horn Island on a C-27J Spartan.
Deputy Air Commander Australia Air Commodore Ben Sleeman was among the Air Force personnel, including Indigenous Liaison Officers Flight Lieutenants Sarah Woods and Norman Grogan, and Avionics Technician Leading Aircraftwoman Raba Nona; whose family is from Badu Island.
“The Air Force is pleased to partner with the AOC on delivering this project, with a common focus on sport and fitness, combined with Indigenous strategy goals under our respective reconciliation action plans,” Air Commodore Sleeman said.
“If you can see it, you can be it. That’s why we’re proud to be here in the Torres Strait community for this event.”
The two days of community and cultural interactions in Torres Strait Islands included traditional dancing, a traditional meal and a free community basketball day delivered by the Indigenous Basketball Australia team, where Olympians shared their stories to inspire young locals.
One inspired 6 year old local Taj-Harper Shutt went to new heights to ensure he could participate in the basketball clinic – by getting his mum to organise a one-on-one session with Thursday Island local and dual Olympic basketballer Danny Morseu.
Taj eagerly turned up, watched the Spartan do a flyover during their warm up, and showed so much enthusiasm during the clinic that the Indigenous Olympian Coaching Scholarship holders gave him an Australian Olympic shirt to match theirs.
“I have never played basketball before,” Taj said.
“I had a lot of fun and then I got some hats and Air Force stickers. I’ve put some stickers on my hats now, to show them off.”