Army Indigenous initiatives

NORFORCE patrolman PTE Elijah Apurriyarnka from Goulborn Island assists with interpreting in a makeshift health clinic.

The Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Programme, Regional Force Surveillance Units and Australian Army Cadets are three important initiatives that support and employ Army's Indigenous community.

Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Programme

The Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Programme (AACAP) began in 1997 and is an ongoing commitment that reinforces the strong association between Army and the Indigenous peoples of northern and central Australia. It is a joint initiative between the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Army. 

19th Chief Engineer Works involvement in AACAP includes the design, planning, coordination and control of engineering works in selected communities. In the last decade, this involvement has extended to coordinating the health and veterinary training and support as well as the delivery of certified and non-certified employability skills programs.

In terms of infrastructure delivery, AACAP projects have delivered a mix of housing, road construction/upgrades, sewerage treatment plants, airfield construction or upgrades, health clinics, telecommunications infrastructure, school upgrades, potable water supply infrastructure, and housing sub divisions.

AACAP has improved health and living standards in Aboriginal communities as well as creating Indigenous employment opportunities during project operations and afterwards. Each project has three components: construction, health and training.

AACAP 2010 - conducted at the Pukatja community in South Australia, a community located in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.

AACAP 2011 – was conducted in the Fitzroy Valley Area, WA and included the communities of Joy Springs and Bayulu, with works continuing in Joy Springs in 2012.

AACAP 2012 – was conducted on the Dampier Peninsula of WA, including the communities of Beagle Bay, Lombadina, Djarindjin and Ardyaloon.

AACAP 2013 – was conducted in Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) community of Fregon in South Australia.

AACAP 2014 – was conducted in Wutunugurra and Canteen Creek in the Northern Territory. 

AACAP 2015 –  is being conducted in Titjikala in the Northern Territory.

 Watch the video for a brief overview of activities on AACAP 2014

The AACAP location map illustrates the locations throughout northern and central Australia where the AACAP has run since the programs inception in 1997. 

Regional Force Surveillance Units

A Regional Force Surveliance Vehicle Patrol from NORFORCE's Darwin Squadron pose for a photo near Oenpeli, Arnhem Land
A Regional Force Surveillance Vehicle Patrol from NORFORCE's Darwin Squadron pose for a photo near some inspiring local landscape at Oenpelli in Arnhem Land the day after the local cultural festival.

The Regional Force Surveillance Units (RFSUs) employ a large number of Indigenous soldiers, many of whom are employed from local communities on a part-time (Reserve) basis or through the Regional Force Surveillance List.

While the North West Mobile Force (NORFORCE) is well known for its engagement with Indigenous personnel, 51 Far North Queensland Regiment and the Pilbara Regiment are also closely involved with local Indigenous communities and the employment of local Indigenous people.

Australian Army Cadets

Roseaanne Parmbuk at the cadet unit in the aboriginal community of Wadeye.
Roseaanne Parmbuk durng a radio lesson given at the cadet unit in the aboriginal community of Wadeye.

The Australian Army sponsors a national youth development program through the Australian Army Cadets (AAC). The AAC program has the character and values of the Australian Army, is founded on a strong community partnership, and fosters and supports an on-going interest in the Australian Army.

There are around 15,000 cadets ranging in age from 12½ to 19 years and over 1,200 volunteer adult staff members in 217 Army Cadet Units across Australia. They are supported by 56 full-time staff (40 Australian Public Service and 16 Australian Regular Army) and 160 Army Reserve personnel.

Indigenous Australians participate as cadets and adult staff in several units across Australia. Four Army Cadet Units are located in remote areas of northern Australia and they conduct the AAC youth development program in a way that is specifically tailored for Indigenous youth. Many other cadet units across Australia, metropolitan, regional and rural, comprise both Indigenous and non-Indigenous cadets and adult staff.

The Army provides support to the AAC youth development program through Army foster units throughout Australia. In remote areas of northern Australia the Army's RFSUs provide this service with NORFORCE providing support to Cadet units in Wadeye, Daly River and Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory, and 51 FNQR providing support to the Cadet unit in Bamaga, Queensland.

Further information can be found at the AAC website.