Students and chaperones from remote Northern Territory communities got inspired during a visit to a recent Navy Indigenous Development Program (NIDP) graduation. Chief Petty Officer Tony Thomas is the Navy Community Engagement Program Coordinator in the Northern Territory. He said a decade of building trust and relationships in remote communities was rewarding and important.
“Opportunities have been made possible by working closely with Defence Indigenous Affairs through the Community Engagement Program,” Thomas said. “I heard about NIDP and wanted to help close the gap, bring the kids to the program so they can see for themselves. Watching the NIDP graduation they get to see pride on the faces of the graduates but also the families, realising they can have this too. The students will now go back to their schools and communities with photos and stories and spread the word, and encourage others to do it.”
From the remote Numbulwar community in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Carlene Budden works at the local school assisting teachers. She said being a chaperone on the trip opened her eyes to the opportunities. “I have always been interested in the Navy,” she said. “Chief Petty Officer Thomas has been visiting the school since I was a kid and talking about Navy. Seeing NIDP I realised I can do this.”
Solomon Tapau, from the Ngukurr community, said his father had been the driving force to him finishing school. “He looks after me, has guided me and always been there for me so I want to make him proud,” Solomon said.
Hearing about NIDP through Thomas, he said he kept asking his teachers about Navy and was chosen for the trip. “I am going to apply for NIDP when I turn 18 and hope to join Navy. I want to bring pride to my family name and my community,” Solomon said.