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December 8, 2011
Opening doors to future on the sea
By CPL Zenith King
THE number of Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Australians in
the ADF is on the rise due to the
success of specialised pathways to
employment programs like the ADF
Indigenous Pre-Recruitment Course
(IPRC), which helps prepare indige-
nous job seekers for the ADF recruit-
Since the launch of the IPRC late
in 2008, 28 graduates have accept-
ed job offers in the ADF and others
are progressing through the recruiting
The ADF Senior Indigenous
Recruitment Officer, WO1 Colin
Watego, has been closely involved in
the delivery of the last six IPRC.
An indigenous soldier himself,
with more than 37 years experience,
WO1 Watego said it was not about
lowering the bar for entry.
"It's about giving young people
awareness of what Defence can offer
and then giving them the confidence to
actually apply," he said.
"When it comes to the ADF recruit-
ing process, the same standards for
entry apply to all Australians. We
encourage and mentor indigenous
applicants through the whole process
and, through the IPRC, we place them
in a position where they are highly
He said the IPRC was the flagship
recruiting program and was aimed pri-
marily at candidates from urban and
regional communities, although sev-
eral candidates from remote commu-
nities had experienced success on the
He said a sister initiative, the
Defence Indigenous Development
Program, was aimed at remote and
regional communities and was deliv-
ered over eight months.
"Apart from lack of awareness of
what we can offer, I think education
has been one of the major stumbling
blocks that has prevented many indig-
enous Australians from getting into the
ADF," he said.
"One of the fundamental strengths
of the course is that participants are
given extensive exposure to ADF train-
ing, values and ethos.
"The IPRC is based on the Army
recruit model, so when the candi-
dates graduate and proceed through
the recruiting process, we have found
them to be strong recruits at each of
the training schools because of their
Navy recruits Stephen Abednego,
Godfrey Bero, Wilfred Bowie and
Chanaya Resek-Takai completed the
course earlier this year and are current-
ly doing the recruit course at HMAS
RCTBM Bero said he had aspired
to join the ADF since he was young.
"I want to be a role model for other
young men in my community and join-
ing the ADF offers me the opportunity
to do just that," he said.
"It also offers me the opportunity
to provide a stable platform for my
He said he got involved in the
IPRC after he started his Defence
Force Recruiting application.
"I found the course to be of great
help as it enabled me to prepare men-
tally and gave me an insight into the
trials that I would face at Recruit
School," he said.
"Nothing worthwhile is easy, but I
always wanted to be a respected mem-
ber of the community, so joining the
ADF was the right decision."
RCTBM Abednego said his deci-
sion to join the Navy wasn't hard.
"I always wanted to do this line of
work and to work on the sea," he said.
RCTBM Resek-Takai said she
joined the Navy because she wanted to
do something challenging.
"I wanted to see how far I could
push myself," she said.
"Not only have I joined for myself
but also my family. The ADF, in par-
ticular the Navy, has always been
something I wanted to be a part of,
because it's a workforce that will
always remind me of home -- being on
the ocean all the time."
For further information about the IPRC go
SERVICE EXPOSURE: Governor-General Quentin Bryce with (from left) PO Justin Morgan, Wilfred Bowie,
Godfrey Bero, Kitty Mari, Stephen Abednego, Katyana Bani, Chanaya Resek-Takai, CPL Mary Ware and
Jacinta Groves at the performance of 'A Naval Salute' at the City Recital Hall celebrating the RAN centenary.
Photo: ABIS David McMahon
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