For Ishmaiel Lui, 18, from Warraber, 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.
"It brings the two cultures together, both the military culture and Indigenous culture," said Ishmaiel "On this course I've also found a new family. I've got my Defence brothers and sisters on the course and I've got my own family back home," he said.
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.
Ishmaiel graduated from the 02-2015 IPRC in Adelaide, where it was supported by the 9th Brigade of the Australian Army.
For Ishmaiel, the course 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, Ishmaiel found some parts of the routine challenging – it took time to get used to the regular Army drill, as it's something he's never done before.
"The early mornings and the self-discipline were easy, as I've been to boarding school in Cairns," said Ishmaiel. I have enjoyed the PT [physical training] too, as I love football and sport," he said.
"It's been inspiring to learn from the instructors on the course – some of them also come from Indigenous backgrounds. There's so much respect for them and it's good to see that."
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 Ishmael, the course has offered him new skills that he hopes to use in his new career.
"I came here to build a future for myself and improve my skills," he/she said. "It's changed my life coming here. I hope I've made my family and my community proud."