Cultural immersion days are a key part of the Navy Indigenous Development Program (NIDP), which was established in 2014.

The NIDP supports Defence’s Reconciliation Action Plan and the Australian Government’s agreement on Closing the Gap, which aims to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across all areas of disadvantage.

The NIDP partners with TAFE Queensland and its Marine College in Cairns to deliver an Indigenous Australian contextualised program of Year 10 maths and English, providing the recruits the opportunity to gain communication, comprehension and numeracy skills in preparation for future careers.

The cultural immersion days aim to help participants understand more about their culture through visits to places of cultural significance, meetings with Indigenous role models and spending time performing Indigenous traditions, such as hunting and dancing. 

Recruit Aaron Warria, from Torres Strait’s Moa Island, is on the program's Course 15, which began in February, and said the dancing was good for him.

“It’s interesting learning about Aboriginal dancing as it is very different to the dancing from Kubin Village where I am from,” Recruit Warria said.

“The program is great, especially the new friends I have made. I am looking to continue into the Navy after the program.

“I like practical jobs so I am keen to be a marine technician, I think it would really interest me.”

Navy Indigenous Development Program Recruit Colin Aruba conducts a simulated shoot on the Enhanced F88 Austeyr during his visit to the 3rd Brigade at Lavarack Barracks in Queensland. Photo: Corporal Brodie Cross

The program has had many successes, including Seaman Joshua Daw, a Course 13 graduate last year who has since completed basic training at HMAS Cerberus and is now undergoing further training to become a maritime personnel operator. 

“NIDP gave me such an insight into what was ahead and, personally, the course enabled me to overcome physical fitness challenges,” Seaman Daw said.

“Due to the support throughout NIDP, I was able to meet the expectations comfortably during basic training. 

“I am really hopeful I will be posted to Western Australia, which is fantastic for me as a Nyoongar Man.  The opportunity to be a local representative for my community and role model for cousins and others is important.”

Seaman Daw highly recommends the program, saying it was exactly the direction he needed. 

“I was given all the tools needed to succeed and I will personally be advocating for the program to my own family and community,” he said.

As part of the program, course participants travel to Defence establishments around Australia to better understand how the Army and Air Force work together with Navy.

Click here for more information about the Navy Indigenous Development Program.

Navy Indigenous Development Program recruits learn about the capabilities of the Australian Light Armoured Vehicle during their visit to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment at Lavarack Barracks in Queensland. Photo: Corporal Brodie Cross