Defence Indigenous Program changes lives for better
Originally published in Army News on September 15, 2011.
Talking at the Garma Festival, 40km south of Nhulunbuy in East Arnhem Land on August 7, Private Baker told how the program had changed his life. “I grew up near Borroloola in the Gulf Country Northern Territory,” he said.
After leaving school when he was 14 to work on a nearby cattle station, Private Baker knew there was more to life and joined the seven-month DIDP.
“I knew I had to make a change in my life,” he said. “This course opened my eyes to the opportunities available to me but it was going to take a lot of hard work on my part.”
At the end of the course, Private Baker won an Australian Defence Force scholarship to attend Saint Joseph’s College in Hunter Hill, Sydney. “For someone like me, attending one of the premier schools in Sydney was a bit scary. I was tested to see where I was academically and the school decided I would have to join at Year 9.”
He was disappointed, because he was 17 at the time, but the school assigned him a tutor and he worked an extra four hours a day to meet the requirements to advance from Year 9 to Year 11 in one year.
“It was hard but I went from near the bottom to receiving awards for second and third in my classes.”
He now hopes to go into politics in the Northern Territory (NT) when he finishes Year 12.
“As a member of the Northern Territory Government I would bring new goals and ideas to the job.”
“I want to help my people, but more than that I want to help my people help all the people of Australia.”
Another great success story presented at the DIDP forum was that of Private Warren Gaykamungu, from Milingimbi. He is studying a Bachelor Degree by correspondence at Deakin University.
DIDP is a whole-of-government initiative between the Department of Defence, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and the NT Department of Education and Training.