A traditional smoking ceremony has marked the start of construction works for the new $31 million Armoured Fighting Vehicle Facilities Program - Simulation Centre at Lavarack Barracks.
Townsville Indigenous Bindal elders Uncle Alfred and Aunt Jenny led the ceremony to cleanse and ward off bad spirits from the land.
With assistance from the Bindal dance group, Uncle Alfred fanned the smoking native Sandalwood tree leaves over the site and representatives from Defence, project manager - Jacobs and head contractor - St Hilliers.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price announced in February that St Hilliers had been awarded the head contract to deliver the three-storey armoured vehicle simulation training centre as part of the $235 million Armoured Fighting Vehicle Facilities Program Stage 1 works.
The LAND 400 Phase 2 Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles and the Phase 3 Infantry Fighting Vehicles will represent a generational leap in Army’s warfighting capability.
Karen Bailey, Director Service Delivery Northern and Central Queensland said the ceremony was a fitting start to the Townsville project.
“This will be a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art facility supporting the training of 3rd Brigade soldiers for the upgraded M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank and incoming LAND 400, LAND 8160 armoured vehicle and Land 121 capabilities,” Ms Bailey said.
“The Defence Estate and Infrastructure Group regional team are working closely with the project to ensure the training centre is delivered on time and fully satisfies Army’s requirements and expectations.”
St Hilliers has committed to sourcing 98 per cent of the workforce from the local area including Indigenous project participants.
The new facility is due to open in mid-2022.