On their last day, 15 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who got to live the life of an aviator at RAAF Base Amberley in September 2022, said they had had a once in a lifetime experience.
CAPTION: Air Force Indigenous Youth program participant Tallira Hopkins tries on the firefighter uniform with firefighter Leading Aircraftman Ray Solinas at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland. Story by Flight Lieutenant Suellen Heath. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Kate Czerny.
The nervous but extremely excited participants had all signed up for three days of hands-on residential experience as part of the Air Force Indigenous Youth Program.
The program gives participants the opportunity to observe a variety of career pathways available, as well as participate in a number of planned activities, exposing the participants to military aviation and what life on an operational airbase is like.
During their first day, Senior ADF Officer Group Captain Iain Carty welcomed the participants and encouraged them to give everything a go as they interacted with aviators from various job roles and had the chance to complete activities that might challenge them.
“The Air Force Indigenous Youth Program participants had three full days of learning about being a nurse, a firefighter, a military working dog handler, a pilot, a ground support equipment technician through to expressing themselves through art and challenging themselves by doing drill and the overwater obstacle course,” Group Captain Carty said.
“During their stay, the participants were fortunate to be on base at the same time as Air Commander Australia Air Vice Marshal Darren Goldie and US Air Force personnel, where they took the opportunity to ask lots of questions while enjoying lunch together.”
On their final day, Group Captain Carty encouraged the participants to continue working on their fitness, healthy eating and study so they have the best chance in life to achieve whatever they set their mind to.
Before heading home, the participants sat around the Yarning Circle and recalled to Indigenous Liaison Officers Flight Lieutenant Sarah Woods and Warrant Officer Jodi Ross, Group Captain Carty and US Air Force personnel what each of their highlights were.
The participants said the food was great, the overwater obstacle course was lots of fun and getting to see inside an Osprey (US Air Force Aircraft Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey) was “really cool”.
They also excitedly said going for a flight in a C-27J Spartan was definitely a highlight from the three days and getting to know each other, as they all got along really well.