For Tristan Felton, 20, from Henley a unique training course run by the Australian Defence Force has opened the door to a new career.
He has just graduated from the ADF’s Indigenous Pre-Recruitment Course (IPRC) and has been offered a job as a Rifleman in the Australian Army.
The six week course offers young people from Indigenous backgrounds the chance to experience military life in an environment that builds skills and self-confidence while respecting Indigenous culture.
"This course opens your mind - it gives you a set of tools you can apply anywhere in life," said Tristan.
"It's not just about joining the Australian Defence Force, it's about giving you skills for life."
The IPRC focuses on five core training modules; Indigenous and military culture; academic advancement; fitness and life skills; introduction to military training; and job preparation and interview skills.
Tristan graduated from the 02-2015 IPRC at Hampstead Barracks in Adelaide, where it was supported by the 9th Brigade of the Australian Army.
For Tristan, it has meant six weeks away from home immersed in a range of experiences including field training, live firing exercises and daily life in a barracks setting.
At the start, Tristan found some parts of the routine challenging. At times he found it hard to keep his motivation going.
"What helped me was learning not to be afraid of failure," he said. "I've now found a way to motivate myself and not give up."
Tristan also found the instructors on the course inspiring.
The Senior Indigenous Mentor of the course, Warrant Officer Class One Colin Watego, is a Bundjalung and Torres Strait Island man who has served in the ADF for 40 years.
He said the course offers high-quality training to young Indigenous Australians from a range of cultural backgrounds.
"The Indigenous Pre-Recruitment Course offers unique opportunities for personal and professional development that participants will take with them into a career in the ADF or back to their local communities," he said.
"The ADF values and supports young Indigenous people and I am proud to be part of the leadership team running this course."
For Tristan, the course has offered him new skills that he hopes to use in his new career.
"I came here because I had to make a change," he said. "I now know I can keep on progressing and go further."
"I see the Australian Defence Force as a gateway to furthering myself, now and into the future."