A pre-recruitment military course for Indigenous Australians has been credited with strengthening ties between the country’s Indigenous and military communities.
A new course aimed at young would-be service men and women is strengthening links between Australia's indigenous and military communities.
Demand for the Defence Indigenous pre-recruitment course was at an all-time high, and bringing increasingly positive results.
The latest intake of 34 was in their final stages of the six-week course at the Cerberus Naval base south of Melbourne.
For warrant officer Colin Watego, who was largely responsible for the implementation of the course, it was about changing lives.
"It is designed to really take our young people out of their comfort zone; it tests them in many, many areas," he said.
"We test them for their emotional stability and their leadership skills."
Warrant Officer Watego had been in the Army for 40 years, and was an Aboriginal elder from the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales.
He said the course was a wonderful reflection of the symbiotic relationship between Indigenous Australians and the nation’s military.
"It provides opportunities. There is no limit to what can be achieved in a structured environment like the defence force – it’s a continuation of learning and self-development," he said.
"You come from a community or family into a much bigger community or family."
Not all those who graduate from the course will enter the military or public service, but it offers insight into what’s required.
Those who wish to pursue the military furtherwere eligible to sit the next phase of recruitment which included an aptitude test.
As for the latest class, they endured confronting bush exercises, minimal sleep and an unexpected mud-run which Warrant Officer Watego said they handled well.
"Congratulations each and every one of you," he told them at the end of the course.
"I’m very proud, I'm very proud, mob."