Volume 1, Chapter
Index & Glossary
Chapter 2


This chapter explains each of Defence's outcomes and outputs, including our achievement against performance targets and the cost to the Government of our outcomes.

Outcome Three: Army Capability

Feature—Army Completes 10 Years of AACAP

Sapper Hans Young

Sapper Hans Young from 21 Construction Squadron

L-R Doug MacDonald

L-R Doug MacDonald from Advance Training International, with Murphy Abbott and Sapper Shaun Simon

In 2006, the Australian Army undertook its tenth year of the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program (AACAP), with works on infrastructure and technical training for the people of Borroloola, a community about 900km south-east of Darwin.

The AACAP is an ongoing initiative that reinforces the strong association between the Army and the indigenous people of Northern Australia. It is a cooperative initiative between the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA), the Army and state and territory authorities to improve environmental health conditions within remote Aboriginal communities.

The AACAP seeks to maximise benefit to indigenous communities by focusing on projects that allow the Army to make best use of its construction expertise and capability and capitalise on the Army's ability to deliver a range of services. Each project has a construction component, a health component and a training component.

The construction component focuses on the provision of environmental health infrastructure such as housing, water, sewerage and electrical services as well as improving access to primary health care facilities by constructing or upgrading roads and airfields.

The health component focuses on augmenting existing community medical, dental and veterinary programs. The training component focuses on specific skills required within the community and includes courses on construction and building maintenance, vehicle and small engine maintenance, welding, concreting and cooking. The AACAP objectives are consistent with those of the National Aboriginal Health Strategy.

The AACAP was conceived in 1996 after the then Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation met with the Prime Minister to raise concerns about the poor primary health of indigenous Australians.

Between 1997 and 2005, nine projects focusing on improving environmental health of indigenous communities have been completed at such places as Palm Island and Bamaga in Queensland, Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia and Melville Island off Darwin in the Northern Territory.

Over the period 1997 to 2005, more than $55 million has been provided by FaCSIA for the project. The Army has also provided significant resources through the provision of personnel and logistic and movement support for the projects. Further funding from FaCSIA has been approved to continue the AACAP through to 2009.

In 2007, current planning is that AACAP will assist the Doomadgee region.

AACAP 2006

Lieutenant General Peter Leahy and Jeff Harmer

Joint effort: Chief of Army Lieutenant General Peter Leahy and Secretary of the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jeff Harmer after signing the new AACAP Memorandum of Understanding.

Bombardier Nathan Hannan

Many hands: Bombardier Nathan Hannan, hard at work on the site at Borroloola.

The AACAP 2006 construction works centred on the four communities represented in Borroloola—Yanula, Mara, Garawa 1 and Garawa 2—while health services and training were provided in the Borroloola communities and in regional communities.

A team of about 110 soldiers built four homes, provided health services, worked on water bores and engineering services and trained the local community in various technical skills such as welding and small engine maintenance.

The soldiers were mostly from the Army's 21st Construction Squadron, based in Brisbane, with project management by the 19th Chief Engineer Works from Sydney. Additional soldiers were attached from a variety of supporting engineer, health, logistic and training units, as well as Royal Australian Air Force tradesmen.

Six additional homes and a variety of other infrastructure works were project managed by the Army but delivered by civil contract.

The soldiers provided training such as basic first aid, personal hygiene, nutrition and diet, personal wellbeing, and education in diabetes management. Specific training for dealing with sports injuries was also included.

For AACAP 2006, the Army took a different approach to training by dedicating personnel to the design and development of the training program and to the coordination of the training program on the ground. The AACAP 2006 Training Program used skilled training with experience in remote communities. Mentoring and leadership was provided by personnel from Norforce, 2 Division and the Royal Australian Engineers.

The AACAP 2006 was supported by international staff as part of the Defence Cooperation Program with a nine-person trade detachment from the Papua New Guinea Defence Force and an 11-member trade detachment from the Tongan Defence Force. This support helped develop and maintain South Pacific relationships and interoperability with the Australian Army.

All of the soldiers underwent cultural awareness training before being sent to Borroloola. The Army undertakes these projects only after close, culturally sensitive consultation with the indigenous communities involved.

The total value of the AACAP work this year was more than $7 million, which was funded by FaCSIA.

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