Cairns students shown a pathway to Army

A group of Cairns high school students enjoyed a taste of Army life during the first Defence Work Experience Program (DWEP) placement with the 51st Battalion, Far North Queensland Regiment (51FNQR), at Porton Barracks, Cairns.

CAPTION: Student Sinevah Mari with her aunt, Private Elaine Gamia, while on the Defence Work Experience Program at Porton Barracks. Photo by Nel Archer.

Regional DWEP Manager Nel Archer said a lot was packed into the day on March 9.

“The cohort participated in a pre-fitness assessment with the unit physical training instructor, experienced a simulated combat first aid demonstration, spoke to serving Army members in the vehicle workshops, and took a boat ride up Trinity Inlet in the unit’s dinghies, where they saw a crocodile,” Ms Archer said.

Commanding Officer 51FNQR Lieutenant Colonel Jeremy Schieb shared morning tea and lunch with the students, taking the opportunity to speak directly to them about Army career opportunities.

“Having the program visit Porton Barracks was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the full range of employment options available with the Army,” Lieutenant Colonel Schieb said.

“It was also great to see the students’ willingness to immerse themselves in the experience and have fun along the way.”

51FNQR employs full and part-time soldiers, many of them Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Their knowledge of country fits perfectly with the special work of the Regional Force Surveillance Unit, maintaining safety and security for Australia’s northern-most borders.

Ms Archer said she hoped the 51FNQR placement could be repeated, and possibly extended to include other Defence units located in the far north.

“DWEP-NQ’s region reaches from Rockhampton, north to the Torres Strait and out to Mount Isa, however, until now, our program has predominantly operated on the major military bases of Lavarack Barracks, RAAF Base Townsville and HMAS Cairns,” she said.

“This means that students living away from these locations had a significant barrier to participating in the program unless they had the financial and family support to do so.

“We’re trying to change things up as we believe all young people need to be empowered to make decisions about their future careers, regardless of where they live.

“At DWEP we feel a responsibility to reach into these more remote areas to support the youth and inform them of the pathways into Defence, and the support and opportunities that are available.”


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