Eight future Indigenous sailors, soldiers and aviators graduated from the recent Indigenous Pre-Recruit Program (IPRP) held at HMAS Stirling.

Their graduation included a Welcome to Country Smoking Ceremony conducted by local Elder Uncle Anthony Abraham.

It also included traditional Torres Strait and Aboriginal dance routines performed by the recruits based on teachings they received from members of the local Indigenous community during the six-week program.

In his address to the recruits, Officer in Charge Lieutenant Commander Christopher Thornton said they should be proud of their achievements.

“You will follow in the footsteps of other proud First Nation Australians that have served before you and you will continue that tradition,” Lieutenant Commander Thornton said.

The completion of IPRP marks the first milestone of the graduates’ careers in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) – the IPRP included intensive physical and adventure training, military skills, and cultural lessons and activities.

Recruit Jackson Hussey-Smith is joining the Air Force as a chef.

“I joined this program mainly for the fitness component but it has opened my eyes to how deep my heritage and culture runs,” Recruit Hussey-Smith said.

Recruit Shauna Hobson is a proud Kuuku Ya’u woman from Lockhart River in Queensland.

“I joined the Navy so I can build a better future for myself and show young teenagers in my community that anything is possible,” Recruit Hobson said.

Her next destination is Recruit School at HMAS Cerberus before starting her category training as a Boatswains Mate.

Similarly, Recruit Nicky Bond from New Mapoon, Queensland, will now go on to the Recruit Training Unit at RAAF Wagga to pursue his goal of joining the Air Defence Guard.

“My mob is the Yupangathi and Wuthathi people,” Recruit Bond said.

“I joined the Defence Force to challenge myself and to make my community and family proud.”

IPRP and the Navy Indigenous Development Program were developed in response to the Defence Reconciliation Action Plan which has seen many Indigenous Australians gain employment in the ADF as part of the Australian Government’s commitment to closing the gap.

The ceremony was attended by members of Stirling Command Team, Recruit School Commanding Officer, Commander Alisha Withers, Army Recruit Development Company representatives and a number of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members.