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TAFE Queensland has partnered with the Royal Australian Navy to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to overcome barriers and pursue a career with the Australian Defence Force. Graduate Clayton Anderson knows firsthand the positive impact of the Navy Indigenous Development Program (NIDP).

Clayton is from the Aboriginal Garawa and Yanuwa people, and grew up in the small community of Borroloola in the Gulf of Carpentaria region of the Northern Territory. At the age of 30, he gave up his job at a mine and relocated to Cairns to participate in the NIDP.

"It was hard to leave my family and my mother was sad, but very proud at the same time," Clayton said.

The five-month-long program is for young Indigenous adults who want to join the Australian Defence Force, but who may be challenged by reading and writing, or fitness. As part of the NIDP, recruits participate in military skills, physical fitness activities, cultural appreciation and leadership exercises.

Participants also undertake language, literacy and numeracy training at the TAFE Queensland Cairns campus and attend the Great Barrier Reef International Marine College to complete a Certificate I in Maritime Operations (General Purpose Hand Near Coastal) (MAR10318).

Clayton said he valued the opportunity to further his education.

"It was challenging to return to studying, but it has broadened my knowledge. The English, mathematics and communication skills I learned at TAFE are helping me to better myself in everyday life."

"I have always encouraged people to take in all the knowledge that they can. Education is one of the most important things that you can ever attain and the more education you get the easier you will track down your path in life."

"The facilities at TAFE are great. The teachers and mentors have been amazing, they're very experienced and very knowledgeable. They put so much time into supporting everyone in the program. It was the most impressive display of teaching that I have seen."

Now a graduate of the program, Clayton is more determined than ever to pursue a career in the Australian Defence Force.

"I want a long, successful career in the Navy, possibly in navigation. My studies at TAFE gave me the opportunity to improve my knowledge of mathematics and I'd like to use those skills and take them with me to get into navigation."

Clayton said he hopes his journey inspires others.

"One of my goals is to share my experience with my community. It would be a great thing for me to be able to share the challenges I faced and my achievements. I want to inspire others to learn and develop themselves as much as they can, whether it be through TAFE, the Navy or other opportunities."


Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Learn more about the Cairns campus

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TAFE Queensland