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Fleet Network Pty Ltd D/L No. 20462
June 24, 2010
Hope for a better future
By Michael Brooke
AS PART of Navy's Community
Engagement Program, 'old salt' CPO
Tony Thomas has helped Navy reach into
the heartland of indigenous communities
to help young people expand their career
Over the past 18 months CPO Thomas
and other Navy personnel posted to
HMAS Coonawarra (CMDR Richard
Donnelly) have forged strong and reward-
ing relationships with indigenous com-
munities at Oenpelli and Ngukurr, which
are 312 km and 650 km from Darwin
CPO Thomas said three visits to both
communities had built solid relationships
to the point where a Navy 'ship of the
desert' (also known as a truck) was warm-
ly welcomed by people of all ages.
LCDR Rebecca Jeffcoat, XO
Coonawarra, and ABCK Trish Salau
recently accompanied CPO Thomas to
Oenpelli and Ngukurr, where they were
invited by the female tribal elders to speak
to teenage girls about career opportunities
in the Navy.
"For the first time in their lives they
have a career goal, which has given them
hope for a better future," LCDR Jeffcoat
ABCK Salau said many of the young
women wanted to know what they had to
achieve to join the Navy.
"Many of them are now contemplat-
SUPPORTING COMMUNITIES: Girls
from Oenpelli school in East Arnhem
Land try on Navy uniforms for size,
while, inset, students and teachers
from Ngukurr School in South East
Arnhem Land pose with ABCK Trish
Photos: ABCK Trish Salau and
LCDR Rebecca Jeffcoat
ing careers that will take them outside the
community," ABCK Salau said.
"I found it very rewarding to be help-
ing so many smiling young people under-
stand that they have options and opportu-
nities in their lives."
CPO Thomas said the secret to success
was the importance placed on cultural
understanding and the goodwill involved.
"We do this program for goodwill
rather than recruiting," he said.
"The immediate aim is to build rela-
tionships through trust and understanding,
which will help people in these commu-
nities appreciate that the goals they set
themselves will have them on-track for
some career options and opportunities,
including the RAN."
In addition to Coonawarra's NCEP
with indigenous communities, the
ADF also operates the Indigenous Pre-
Recruitment Course, which is an eight-
week program designed to prepare indig-
enous Australians for the ADF recruiting
processes and for a rewarding career in
the Navy, Army or Air Force.
THE Petty Officer's
Promotion Course now
includes a half-day mod-
ule on mentoring, as
part of the new leader-
ship modules introduced
under Navy's Leadership
and Ethics project.
The modules, facilitat-
ed by CMDR Sue Bigham
and CPO Toni Greenwood,
are highly interactive and
feature practical mentoring
sessions where participants
can develop and practice
their mentoring skills.
"It's a big step from
junior sailor to senior sailor
and, while informal men-
toring is something that
leading seamen do fairly
well, they haven't always
felt confident with the dif-
ference between mentoring
and managing," CMDR
"What's important is
to show how a mentoring
style of leadership can be
used at any level, and this
module is about develop-
ing mentoring skills and
Mentoring key to personal growth
the confidence to introduce
this style of leadership as
English attended one of the
modules at HMAS Stirling
(CAPT Brett Dowsing)
in March, and found that
the interactive style used
during the module helped
make the distinction
between a leader and a
"I found the role play-
ing was a better way to see
exactly what a mentor is,
and I think most of us have
mentored people before,"
POMT English said.
Dennis said the course
built on his knowledge,
though it was not what he
"In the past, my ideas
of mentoring came from
looking at one of my
leaders and thinking,
'I'd like to be like him',"
LSAWASM Dennis said.
"But this course has
challenged my perception
and my eyes have been
opened to ways I can pass
this on to my subordi-
The mentoring team is
currently providing men-
toring training as part of all
sailor promotion courses
and junior officer training,
and hopes that modules
such as this will ensure the
principles of mentoring are
embraced at all levels.
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