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Indigenous recruits start Army training

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The latest round of AIDP trainees at Batchelor Institute’s campus. Image:  Chelsea Heaney.

 

The latest intake of Indigenous Army recruits have started their training at the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education in the Northern Territory. Over thirty Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees will spend the next four months on campus, learning the requirements for entry into the Australian Army and building their literacy and numeracy skills.

The Army Indigenous Development Program (Northern Territory) or AIDP-NT is an award-winning collaboration between Batchelor Institute and the Australian Army that is successfully increasing the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the defence force. Students are supported in developing key skills within a culturally appropriate learning environment.

In addition to standard training, recruits are often sent out to lend a hand in a wide range of community projects, including Barunga festival and environmental management programs. These activities instil a sense of pride and allow individuals to act as role models within the community.

The new trainees were officially welcomed by Elder Executive Advisor Academic and Cultural Leadership Dr Sue Stanton and Batchelor Institute CEO Professor Robert Somerville AM. Major General Fergus McLachlan AM also made a special visit to the campus to address the group, after recently taking on the role of Commander of Forces Command in December last year.

The AIDP-NT program was recognised at the 2016 NT Training Awards and was presented the Industry Collaboration of The Year. Lieutenant Colonel John Papalitsas,CSC, who is the Commanding Officer for NORFORCE, has a Military team made up of eight officers/soldiers (as part of his Unit) working with Batchelor Institute on the AIDP-NT program. He was among the joint team of Batchelor Institute and Army staff that accepted the award. He spoke of the distinct advantages of this partnership.

“It honestly is one of the things that I remain proudest of. Our collaboration with Batchelor and the work that is done to present opportunities to young Indigenous men and women is just phenomenal,” said Lieutenant Colonel Papalitsas, CSC.

The AIDP-NT offers a safe middle-ground to trainees, allowing young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to learn and adjust to the demands of full time employment in the Army before being sent to Kapooka for recruit training. The program is open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the country.

This latest intake of 33 trainees will continue to build on the program’s strong track record of success, with last year’s graduates bringing the number of Indigenous people in defence to more than 500 for the first time since World War II.

A similar program is now being conducted in the vicinity of the Army Recruit Training Centre in Kapooka (Wagga Wagga, NSW) called AIDP-NSW.

 

Words and image by Chelsea Heaney.