Wilfred ‘Bowie’ Bowie is currently serving as an Able Seaman Boatswains Mate (BM) onboard HMAS Darwin participating in Operation SLIPPER. Having grown up in Injinoo Queensland, Bowie wanted to find a job where he could be an example for his family and friends.
With the full support of his family, ABBM Bowie joined the Royal Australian Navy in September 2011, undergoing basic training at HMAS Cerberus. Being a BM was appealing, working outdoors, fitness and travelling along with the mateship and job security that the Navy gives you, he did not have to think for too long about joining.
Having an uncle involved in indigenous recruitment for the Australian Defence Force (ADF), Wilfred participated in the Defence Indigenous Development Program and was shown other job opportunities available outside his home town.
“My uncle wanted us to be challenged, to extend our horizons,” ABBM Bowie said.
Family involvement in the ADF can be traced back to WWII, with his grandfather being a private in a light infantry battalion. There are also numerous uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews that continue to serve in all branches of the ADF.
ABBM Bowie was selected to represent indigenous ADF personnel at the International Fleet Review (IFR), conducted in Sydney during October 2013.
“It was an awesome experience. Getting together and performing with other indigenous ADF members was an unforgettable experience,” ABBM Bowie said.
His experience of being involved in the IFR makes him reflect on something that his grandfather, Adhi Ephraim Bani, a traditional owner and mentor, once said - ‘Past must exist for the present to create the future’.
The IFR was Navy’s showcase celebrating the entering of Sydney Harbour, on 04 October 1913, of seven ships commissioned into the newly formed Royal Australian Navy.
Darwin is assigned to the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) in order to conduct maritime security operations in the Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean.
Darwin is deployed in support of Operation SLIPPER and is the 57th rotation of Royal Australian Navy ships to deploy to the Middle Eastern Area of Operations, since 1990.
Operation SLIPPER is the Australian Defence Force Contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, counter smuggling and counter, and enhancing regional maritime strategy.
The DIDP has been developed in order to address the needs of northern Australia’s remote indigenous people. The program provides young indigenous adults with the education, training, life skills and confidence – and as a result the opportunities to secure and sustain continuous employment of their choice and to be role models within their communities.