A WWII pilot was held up as the exemplar during the launch of Air Force’s new Indigenous strategies in Canberra on November 26.

Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, launched the strategies, titled Our Place, Our Skies and Common Ground at the National Museum of Australia.

Using the example of Indigenous pilot Squadron Leader David Paul, DFC, who refused to let his lack of education stymie his dreams to be a pilot, Air Marshal Hupfeld said Air Force needed to draw on the widest pool of applicants to maximise its potential.

“We only have to look back and remind ourselves of the incredible service Indigenous Australians made to understand what we risk missing out on today,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said. 

“So strong was Squadron Leader Paul’s determination to serve his country in the cockpit of a war plane, he voluntarily went to technical college to improve his education.

“He is emblematic of the type of person we need today; a determined, agile leader who deeply valued the pathways that opened for him through the opportunity for education.”

Our Place, Our Skies details Air Force’s approach to the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan, which is part of government’s Closing the Gap strategy, while Common Ground lays out the roadmap of how those outcomes will be achieved.

They are the latest in Air Force’s approach to reducing systemic issues which can discourage Indigenous men and women from joining Air Force, according to Air Marshal Hupfeld, who said related programs, such as Exercise Kummundoo, had been in place since 2015.

Our Place, Our Skies and Common Ground were not only programs to ensure continuous growth and success as a culturally safe and diverse employer of choice, it was Air Force's belief it was simply the right thing to do for a reconciled Australia.

“Air Force will support and empower all, regardless of background, to contribute to their full potential," Air Marshal Hupfeld said.

“In doing so, we maximise our people capability to achieve our mission to deliver the necessary world-class air power for Australia.”