A returned Indigenous digger says joining the Defence Force helped him to break the cycle of disadvantage. He is urging more Indigenous Australians to become soldiers.
By
Myles Morgan

Source:
NITV News
24 Apr 2014 - 3:28 PM  UPDATED 25 Apr 2014 - 10:29 AM

NITV News recently travelled to RAAF Base Edinburgh in Adelaide to speak with an Indigenous digger upon his return from Afghanistan.

Kamilaroi-Bundjalung man Private Andrew Roberts returned from a nine-month tour in Afghanistan earlier this year.

The 22-year-old from Blacktown in Western Sydney went to Defence Force Recruiting in 2011.

"I just said I'm interested in joining the Army and they asked me what Corp would you like to do and I did a bit of research before I joined, and I said I want to be a grunt, infantryman," Private Roberts said.

In Afghanistan he carried the heavy Maximi machine gun for his section.

"The main role was being a guardian angel, to protect officers or guard them when they go work with the Afghan Army because of the insider threat," he said.

Now back home with the Seventh Royal Australian Regiment in Adelaide, Private Roberts says he's looking forward to time-off with family and friends.

He hopes more Indigenous people will join the Army and break the cycle of disadvantage.

"I like to think it's a stable income, stable job. [Iit] keeps you out of trouble definitely and it'll get you into line," he said.

The Army says it is making renewed efforts to embrace the diversity of Australian culture.

Warrant Officer Don Taylor is responsible for recruiting and retaining Indigenous people in the Royal Australian Air Force.

"You're in the Army, you're green, you're not black or white or yellow," he said.

Officer Taylor agreed that Indigenous Australians are needed in defence and that a career in the military provides stability.

"It's obtainable to be working in defence, all the jobs they may see in their community is also duplicated within the defence organisation," he said.