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November 11, 2010
By LCDR Fenn Kemp
TWENTY-six young indigenous
Australians have graduated from
the first Defence Indigenous
Development Program -- Navy.
They paraded at TS Endeavour
(HMAS Cairns) to the delight of their
families and friends, after undergoing
seven months of training in a wide
variety of skills and trades.
The graduates sailed in STS
Young Endeavour, completed a boot
camp at HMAS Cerberus and under-
took work experience at Cairns. They
also completed Access 10 training
and components of a Boat Coxswains
ticket through Tropical Far North
Yakopeta Akiba-Bowie is from
Saibai Island -- 3km away from PNG.
Yakopeta said the highlight for her
was the sea ride up the Queensland
coast in Young Endeavour.
"We found it important to work as
a team", Yakopeta said. "We had to
keep the ship going."
Yakopeta said climbing aloft was
a challenge, albeit an enjoyable one.
She said her time at Cerberus was also
"CAPT [Mark] Hill (CO Cerberus)
arranged for us to go to the snow -- we
loved it! We also got to experience
what Navy life is like."
Every graduate Navy News spoke
with on the day said teamwork got
them through. The course also taught
them to believe in themselves.
Defence Science and Personnel
Minister Warren Snowdon was among
the first to offer the group his warmest
"This is a significant milestone
for participants, their families, the far
north Queensland community and
Defence," Mr Snowdon said.
Director General Navy People,
CDRE David Letts, was on hand to
congratulate the group.
"This initiative provides Navy
with a tangible means of engaging the
indigenous communities up here in far
north Queensland," CDRE Letts said.
"We are giving them a bit of a leg
up -- to see if a Navy career is some-
thing they can undertake."
The Defence Indigenous
Development Program -- Navy is a
joint initiative between Defence
and the Department of Education,
Employment and Workplace
Relations, and managed by Defence's
Directorate of Indigenous Affairs
under the Defence Reconciliation
The Department of Education and
Training Queensland also contributed
greatly to the course through its indig-
enous training program.
Yakopeta and some other gradu-
ates will return to Cerberus as recruits
early next year. Those who don't will
find the skills and confidence they
have gained will give them that extra
boost in civilian life.
Another course is already being
planned for 2011.
Opening doors to the future
OPPORTUNITIES AHEAD: The first group to complete
the Indigenous Development Program -- Navy parade
at HMAS Cairns after finishing the course, while inset,
course participants celebrate after the parade.
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