Mentors drive success
Originally published in Army News on February 17. 2011.
With his friends and family looking on, Private Solinas, 28, proudly marched out of Kapooka on December 10 and has now started his Basic Driver Course at the Army School of Transport’s Road Transport Wing in Puckapunyal.
An indigenous Australian and father of two from Cairns, Private Solinas said he was determined to join the Army after completing a Directorate of Indigenous Affairs employment program called the Indigenous Pre-Recruitment Course (IPRC) in August 2009.
“The IPRC helped me to find myself because I didn’t know where to go or what I wanted to do with my life. I also wanted to become a better role model for my kids,” Private Solinas said.
“It was an excellent course and helped improve my literacy and numeracy skills. We did a lot of military and physical training too – I just got right into it.”
The IPRC is an intensive eight-week residential course designed to prepare indigenous jobseekers for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) recruitment process and introduce them to military life.
Training Developer and Private Solinas’ mentor, Warrant Officer Class Two Darren Moffitt, said the program was delivered by serving indigenous ADF personnel and Technical and Further Education (TAFE) instructors.
“The initiative is aimed at ‘closing the gap’ by providing indigenous candidates with the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed for success at DFR as they undertake the recruitment process,” Warrant Officer Class Two Moffitt said.
“After completing the IPRC, all graduates attend a Defence Force Recruitment (DFR) ‘You Day’ session, which is the first stage of the ADF recruitment process. They are also provided with ongoing mentoring support from a network of indigenous volunteer mentors from Army, Navy and Air Force.
“This mentoring support provides IPRC graduates with the necessary encouragement, guidance and emotional support to continue with their application.”
Private Solinas said his first attempt at the DFR ‘You Day’ was unsuccessful.
“I was absolutely devastated because I didn’t pass the aptitude requirements to enlist, but my mentors encouraged me to try again. Their confidence and the way they presented themselves had a big impact on me – I wanted to have those qualities too. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.”
To get up to speed, Private Solinas enrolled in a TAFE literacy and numeracy skills course before resitting the aptitude exam in March last year.
“Thankfully, I passed the second time and after a successful interview they told me I was in. I was overjoyed because I didn’t want to let my family or mentors down,” Private Solinas said.
“It just goes to show that if you work hard enough you can achieve anything. So far, I’m really enjoying my Basic Driver Course but it is difficult at times. Luckily, there are a lot of good instructors here to help me so I will keep trucking along.”
By Corporal Melanie Schinkel