Batchelor Institute » Next wave of Aboriginal trainees head to Kapooka
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Next wave of Aboriginal trainees head to Kapooka

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Batchelor Institute CEO Professor Robert Somerville AM FIML with AIDP Graduate July 14th 2017. Image: Stevi Thomas


Graduates from the Army Indigenous Development Program (AIDP) in the Northern Territory are wasting no time in carving out careers in Australia’s defence force.

Thirty-three trainees, who have spent the last four months at Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, are heading straight into the Army Recruit Training Centre at Kapooka for Initial Enlistment Training.

The AIDP program is run in partnership with Batchelor Institute and the Australian Army and is successfully increasing the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the defence forces.

This award-winning collaboration is celebrated for its cross-cultural competency and strong track record of graduates going on to gain full time employment and performing highly in training programs.

At the graduation ceremony on July 14th the proud trainees marched in to be presented with certificates of completion by the Chief of Army Lt. Gen. Angus Campbell, DSC, AM. and academic awards from Batchelor Institute.

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AIDP Trainees at Graduation Ceremony July 14th 2017. Image: Stevi Thomas



Aaron Young, a born and bred Territorian from Darwin, is one of the trainees marching on to Kapooka after graduation.

It hasn’t been an easy road for Aaron, growing up experiencing family violence and addiction issues living within the infamous Kurringal flats in Fannie Bay.

“When I was little, from like 4 to 12, where I used to live was not good. There were drunks and drug addicts,” said Young.

“At one stage where I used to live actually became one of the most notorious places in the NT for murders.”

By the age of 15, Aaron had seen more violence and social dysfunction than most people. After dropping out of school, Young then had several run ins with trouble and attended the youth diversion program Balanu four times.

Today, he is graduating from the AIDP with several qualifications and a clear goal to work towards full time employment in the army.

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Private Aaron Young. Image: Chelsea Heaney


“Since I’ve come here I am a lot more disciplined, a lot more self-disciplined. I understand a lot more about responsibilities”

“I came here with just my 18+ card and I left with a high risk work licence, drivers licence, white card, first aid certificate, my ochre card.”

“It gives our students an opportunity that they might not have had,” said Batchelor Institute AIDP mentor Chris Roe.

“From what we get at the start to when they march out. They are really proud of what they have achieved in five months”

“It is rewarding work. The main reason I do it is that I hope that people who are looking after my kids are giving the same amount of care that I give”

“A lot of the stuff that these young people are dealing with in their path, I’ve had to go through. Having the mentors around works really well. We’re still learning as well, from the students”

The next round of the AIDP will recommence at Batchelor in a few weeks, with a new intake of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees joining the program.

Of the 27 trainees that went to Kapooka last year, 26 went on to do their initial entry training – with Private Zac Wilson winning the best recruit and Private Tolowah Savage winning the best physical training prize at their platoon in Kapooka.


Words by Chelsea Heaney.