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Navy welcomes graduates from Indigenous Development Program

Callan Morse -

The Royal Australian Navy has welcomed the latest graduates from its Navy Indigenous Development Program.

Graduating from HMAS Cairns' class 20, the 13 program participants hailed from across the nation from as far away as the Torres Strait, Tasmania and South Australia's Port Pirie.

They included graduate Recruit Tyrell Williams, who said the program provided a challenging and rewarding experience, inspiring him to continue his journey with the Navy.

"The program has really challenged me mentally and physically. It has also helped me get used to being apart from family," Mr Williams said.

"Adventure training was one of the highlights of the program for me; I really enjoyed kayaking at Babinda Boulders.

Officer in Charge Navy Indigenous Development Program Lieutenant Commander Christopher Thornton addresses during the graduation ceremony at Munro Martin Parkland, Cairns. (Image: Sittichai Sakonpoonpol)

"Considering that I want a career in the Navy, I think the program has set me up well for my next step which will be Recruit School."

Established in 2013, the Navy Indigenous Development Program (NIDP) is a 21-week program for Indigenous Australians aged 18 to 35 from all over the country, providing numerous learning opportunities from literacy and numeracy to physical fitness, leadership and maritime mastery.

The course also includes a significant cultural component, with students engaging in art and dance with local Indigenous communities.

Officer in Charge NIDP, Lieutenant Commander Christopher Thornton, said the program offers students a unique experience and valuable skill sets.

Navy Indigenous Development Program graduates performed a traditional dance during their graduation at Munro Martin Parkland, Cairns. (Image: Sittichai Sakonpoonpol)

"The transformations that we see in the recruits from day one to graduation are very rewarding indeed. Our recruits walk away with more self-confidence and discipline that will help them in the future," Lieutenant Commander Thornton said.

"If recruits successfully complete the program they could be eligible to join Defence should they choose to, or if they prefer they can return to their communities better prepared for success in the workforce with skills they have learnt."

The graduation took place at Cairns' Munro Martins Park, and included performances from the Boigu Island Dance Troupe as well as graduating students.

Deputy Chief of Navy Rear Admiral Jonathan Earley oversaw the graduation as reviewing officer, with Indigenous Elders, local dignitaries and members of the public also in attendance.

The NIDP aligns with the Navy's contribution to Closing the Gap initiatives.

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