More than 130 Ipswich Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families had the experience of a lifetime: a flight in a military aircraft from RAAF Base Amberley.
The September 27 flights were held to celebrate NAIDOC Week. They were delayed because of COVID-19 restrictions.
When the ramps opened on the C-17A Globemaster III and C-27J Spartan mid-flight to reveal the view far below, squeals of excitement could be heard above the wind.
Children poked their heads past their parents, trying to get a closer look at the Air Force loadmasters.
Former NRLW player and ambassador for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health advocacy organisation Deadly Choices, Tracey Thompson, was on one of the aircraft.
“The ADF is very close to my heart and I would love to serve in uniform one day,” Ms Thompson said.
“To me, these events are very important to help educate our young kids and the community, and to show them the possibility of a career in the Air Force.
“It’s about building up their confidence and self-esteem.”
Indigenous liaison officer at RAAF Base Amberley Flight Lieutenant Sarah Woods embraced the opportunity to connect the base with the local community.
“This type of initiative is fundamental in strengthening the relationship between the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Air Force communities,” Flight Lieutenant Woods said.
“The flight provides the community a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a day in the RAAF.
“In turn, the event provides Air Force members an important opportunity to genuinely connect with their local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.”
Flight Lieutenant Woods said there were other reasons why these events were important.
“First Nations’ cultures are centred heavily on coming together as one mob, one country to share experiences, stories and culture,” Flight Lieutenant Woods said.
“This gathering on, and flying over, Country gives a new and shared experience of defending Country.
“It gives both groups a shared story and common goal.”
There is no better way to get a taste of life in the Air Force than from the back of a military aircraft.
The children and adults disembarked thinking “that could be me one day”.
(Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised the image used in this story may contain images of deceased persons.)