Bringing her heritage to the table

Bringing her heritage to the table

Captain Lily Charles

The Army Indigenous Development Program (AIDP) aims to give Indigenous Australians the best chance of success in Defence by helping participants meet entry education standards for Army.

But Private Shanika Murgha, from 3rd Brigade’s 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment, says the program is much more than that.

“The program is designed for Indigenous members to enhance their literacy and numeracy skills and their physical fitness, but it was also a really good way to get us used to the structure and culture of the Australian Army,” Private Murgha said.

“We got a lot of insight and a lot of knowledge, it was like having a little cheat sheet to take to our training at Kapooka.”

Growing up in Yarrabah in tropical North Queensland, Private Murgha found the move away from her family home challenging.

“When I enlisted it was the first time I’d actually left my home. It’s a small community and I’m very family orientated so it was really tough to leave but my family have backed me the whole way.

“They really encouraged me to go out and explore the world, to make something of myself.

As an Indigenous woman and soldier, Private Murgha said her culture plays a huge part in her career in the Australian Army.

“There is a melting pot of culture within the Australian Defence Force.

“It is important to recognise not only Indigenous members but all people of colour, and to recognise that while we all have our Army culture, we also all have our own individual cultures.”

“It’s about bringing yourself to the table and letting people know ‘this is me, this is who I am’.”