For Allira Giles-Gregory, aged 19 from Maroubra, a unique training course run by the Australian Defence Force has opened the door to a new career.
She has just graduated from the ADF’s Indigenous Pre-Recruitment Course (IPRC) and has been offered a job as a driver 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.
"The course brings the two cultures together – military culture and Indigenous culture," said Allira. "On this course I have also made some lifelong friends. I have enjoyed waking up at 6 am to be with these people!"
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.
Allira graduated from the 02-2015 IPRC in Adelaide, where it was supported by the 9th Brigade of the Australian Army.
For Allira 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, Allira found some parts of the routine challenging – it took time to get used to drill, for example.
"We practised drill as a section," she said. "So I got used to it."
"It's been a journey coming here. It's been a life-changing experience. The staff come from all over Australia and different cultures which made it easier to adapt to the program."
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 Allira, the course has offered him new skills that he hopes to use in her new career.
"I came on the course with a goal to achieve,” she said. “I now know that I’ve changed for the better and made my dear mother proud."