Mulga Mail | Polly Farmer Foundation

Two day camp with Australian Navy opens Aboriginal students’ eyes to careers in the Defence Forces

Two day camp with Australian Navy opens Aboriginal students’ eyes to careers in the Defence Forces

Prime Minister Scott Morrison meets students to hear about their experiences

Aboriginal students from the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation, Clontarf Foundation and Wirrpanda Foundation experienced what life would be like in the Defence Forces after a two day Navy Immersion Camp on Tuesday and Wednesday this week at HMAS Stirling, the Royal Australian Navy base in Perth.

During a visit by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to the Naval Base on Wednesday, three students had the opportunity to meet the Prime Minister who was interested in hearing about their experiences of the camp and about what they had learnt during the two days.

Keilani West, Year 10 student on the Bunbury Follow The Dream program, said: “Meeting the Prime Minister was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and being chosen to represent the Follow The Dream program was a real privilege. We felt very special as we were the first people the Prime Minister made time to speak to during his visit. He was genuinely interested in us and wanted to know about where we come from, our education, and our experiences on the camp.

Eleven students on the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation’s Follow The Dream program, two students from the Wirrpanda Foundation and one student from the Clontarf Foundation spent two days with Navy staff in the Defence Force facilities in order to learn about the many career pathways available to them in the Forces. The whole experience ensured the students gained a sound understanding of the diverse roles open to them, day-to-day life in the military, and the Defence Force recruitment process.

Shontae Coyne, Year 10 student on the Swan View Follow The Dream program, says the Navy Immersion Camp opened her eyes to different career possibilities in the Defence Forces and gave her a realistic view of life in the Navy: “I have learnt about how challenging but also how rewarding a career in the Defence Forces would be. The Follow The Dream program is all about family and making everyone feel like they belong. It seems that working in the Navy would be like working with your extended family and I can really relate to this sense of belonging.

As well as meeting members of the Australian Defence Force, the students also took part in a range of exciting activities, including a simulated weapons training shoot, a tour of the HMAS Ballarat frigate, mountain bike riding, Navy-style fitness training, and a tour of all on-shore naval support facilities. This highly interactive and hands-on experience gave students the practical knowledge and understanding they need to make an informed decision about whether they would like to embark on a career in the Defence Force.

Cate Sims, CEO of the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation, commented: “Learning about career pathways through direct and hands-on experience is the most rich and impactful way to teach young people about what they can aspire to and what they need to do to achieve their goals. Our aim from this camp is to truly open students’ eyes to the rewards and challenges a career in the Defence Forces could bring.

For students who express a strong interest in joining the Australian Defence Force, they will be connected to Defence Force personnel and to other tailored opportunities beyond the camp, including work experience programs, visits to Defence Force and Army Reserve facilities, and connections to their local cadet units. By establishing a direct relationship with students and remaining in touch with them throughout their educational journey, the Defence Force aims to keep their interest alive and ensure they are fully abreast of all available opportunities.

This is the second Navy Immersion Camp that the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation has organised in partnership with Defence Force Recruiting Perth, following on from the great success of the inaugural camp held in April. This second camp is a joint activity between Defence Force Recruiting Perth, the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation, Clontarf Foundation and the Wirrpanda Foundation.

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