For Brayden Stokes, 21 from Darwin, 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 Combat Engineer 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.
"It brings the military and Indigenous cultures together, they are similar but different," said Brayden. "They are all warriors and I didn't realise there were so many indigenous soldiers," he said.
"Everyone really got to know each other in the bush phase, we have learned from each other, made memories, like another family," said Brayden.
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.
Brayden graduated from the 02-2015 IPRC in Adelaide, where it was supported by the 9th Brigade of the Australian Army.
For Brayden, 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, Brayden found some parts of the routine challenging. It wasn't the early mornings and self-discipline, it took time to get used to the different personalities and how to work together as a team.
"It's taught us an understanding of Army culture, why there are rules and discipline, and that if we put the hard work in, there can be a better life for us," Brayden said.
"The instructors have been really good role models. We have seen a change in ourselves," he said. "Some of the instructors are indigenous as well, and they want to help us to achieve the best we can. There's a lot of two-way respect.
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 Brayden, the course has offered him new skills that he hopes to use in his new career.
"The course has given me the desire to learn more about my own culture and I want to know more about my history. My family are very proud of me doing this course and I want to make a positive change and be a role model to others," said Brayden.