More than 130 Ipswich Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families experienced a flight in military aircraft to show the “possibility of a career” in the RAAF.
The flights were intended to celebrate NAIDOC week, but due to COVID-19 related delays it was held on 27 September, according to the Department of Defence.
The C-17A Globemaster III and the C-27J Spartan lifted off from their home base in Amberley, located 40 kilometres south-west of Brisbane.
“The ADF is very close to my heart, and I would love to serve in uniform one day,” said former NRLW player and ambassador for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heal advocacy organisation Deadly Choices, Tracey Thompson.
“To me, these events are very important to help educate our young kids and the community, and to show them the possibility of a career in the Air Force,” Thompson added.
As of 1 January 2019, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders represent 1.8 per cent of the Air Force personnel according to the RAAF.
The Department of Defence’s 2019-20 annual reports show Indigenous members make up 356 of permanent Air Force members and 70 of the reserve.
Halfway through the flight, the ramps opened on the aircraft to “reveal the view far below” according to the press release.
Indigenous liaison officer at RAAF Base Amberley Flight Lieutenant Sarah Woods said it provided opportunities for the community to connect and experience a “day in the RAAF”.
“This type of initiative is fundamental in strengthening the relationship between the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Air Force communities,” Flight Lieutenant Woods said.
Flight Lieutenant Woods added that First Nations’ cultures are heavily centred on “coming together as one mob” to “share experiences, stories and culture”.
“This gathering on and flying over country gives a new and shared experience of defending country. It gives both groups a shared story and common goal.”
In more recent years, the Australian Defence Force has ramped up commitments to increasing diversity across the sector.
According to the Air Force’s ‘Our Place, Our Skies’ strategy from 2019 to 2028, it has pledged to boost Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contributions within the workforce.
The RAAF said it will achieve this by increasing employment, opportunities and engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities over the next decade.
In March this year, students from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander independent school spent a day at the RAAF base in Amberley, according to The Courier Mail.
Around 20 students and staff from Murri School in Brisbane toured multiple squadrons, were able to sit in the cockpit of a C-27J Spartan and hear presentations from aircraft pilots.