FEDERAL MP Warren Entsch has congratulated 22 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who today graduated from the Defence Indigenous Development Program (DIDP) in Cairns.
Mr Entsch attended the graduation at the HMAS Cairns base where Warren Snowdon MP, the Minister for Indigenous, Rural and Regional Health, presented the graduates with their awards. Of the 22, 16 will go into the ADF and six will continue into private sector employment.
Minister Snowdon congratulates Sharni Ludwick on her graduation.
“This is a fantastic program and it was great to see how proud these young people were of their achievements,” Mr Entsch said. “They now have the skills to either go on to a career in the military, or they’ve gained invaluable experience for work in the civil sector.
“This is an initiative that really can change lives – I commend the trainers and the community mentors for their efforts.”
The event follows an approach by Mr Entsch to Mr Snowdon regarding a feared funding redirection for the Cairns program, which would have seen it relocated to the Northern Territory.
“It was a relief to get a verbal confirmation today from the Minister that the funding is safe, and the program will continue in North Queensland,” Mr Entsch said. “I look forward to getting that confirmation in writing so that the next group of trainees can get started on their journey to success.”
In his letter to the Minister, Mr Entsch said the DIDP program was invaluable for applicants who “can’t get a foot in the door any other way”.
During the seven-month course, applicants undergo an Induction Course followed by training in a range of fields, including completing education to a Year 10 level. It also offers them an insight into life in the ADF and creates employment for many local businesses and contractors.
“A major advantage in having the centre in Cairns is that this city is a hub for travel to regional areas in North Queensland – meaning that the trainees are able to ‘ease into’ living away from home while still having regular access to their families,” Mr Entsch told the Minister.
“By relocating the program to remote NT, they are essentially being dumped in the middle of nowhere and this will increase their feelings of isolation and home-sickness not at all conducive to their success.”
Today’s graduation had a surprise at the end, when Squadron Leader Kate Fox, who played a key role in training this year’s graduates, was presented with a prestigious Silver Medal for her work.