About 120 Soldiers have spent the past three months working on projects in an indigenous community on the Cape York Peninsula in far north Queensland, providing training to community members.
The work was part of the Army Indigenous Communities Assistance Program (AACAP), which began in 1997 and provided 47 Indigenous communities with a range of socio-economic and infrastructure benefits.
The program is a joint venture funded annually by the Prime Minister’s Department and the Cabinet and the Army.
This year, the army contingent included trade instructors, caterers, doctors, dentists, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, plant operators, project managers and engineers.
AACAP 2021 Commander Maj.Greg Stannard said he felt privileged to lead the delivery of the Army Workforce component of this year’s project, which enabled the capabilities Army Construction, Training and Health Services to provide immediate and ongoing benefits to Pormpuraaw, an indigenous community in West Cape York. coast, about 660 km northwest of Cairns in the far north of Queensland.
AACAP 2021 is the fifth project that Major Stannard has helped achieve.
âFrom the moment we arrived in Pormpuraaw in early June, the community made us feel very welcome,â said Major Stannard.
âThroughout the 11 weeks of delivering the program, the community was involved in all aspects of the program and the Army team really enjoyed their time in Pormpuraaw. “
The AACAP 2021 provided community members with valuable on-the-job training in catering, photography, maintenance, heavy-duty vehicles and factory machinery, welding and construction, and first aid.
âThe training focused on improving the skills of community members, which means the community can continue to benefit from AACAP long after we have left the area,â said Major Stannard.
In addition to the full training program, the medical and dental programs were completed by the local health clinic, a hangar was built for the local group of men, a center for independent living was also built and some engineering work. civil work were undertaken to provide two subdivisions of five lots for the expansion of community housing.
The army contingent was encouraged to spend their free time learning about the local indigenous culture.
âThe community of Pormpuraaw encouraged the contingent to try fishing and many soldiers were very successful there,â said Major Stannard.
“I think many of our members would happily stay in Pormpuraaw longer if they could.”
Army personnel also engaged with students from Pormpuraaw Public School, with the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) Marching Band, composing and recording a song with the students and teachers.
The song, composed at the request of the school’s teachers, used a mixture of English and local indigenous languages, Kuuk Thaayorre and Kugu.
The teachers wanted a song that the whole school could sing during the assembly and when welcoming visitors.
1RAR Band’s commanding officer and musical director Major Matthew O’Keeffe said the band worked hard to incorporate as many local characteristics as possible into the song, including the names of native animals and plants. this region, as well as the values ââof the school.
In addition to composing the song, the band members gave singing, dancing, movement and percussion lessons to enhance the students’ appreciation of the music.
âWe were particularly struck by the confidence with which the students would sing the song,â said Major O’Keeffe.
âChoirs can be hard work with kids because they are learning so many aspects for the first time, but we were amazed at the results we got with the students at Pormpuraaw in just a few lessons.
âWe achieved the results we were looking for so quickly. “
An interactive lunchtime concert allowed students to get up and put on a show and dance for their classmates.
Following the closing ceremony of AACAP 2021 on September 3, the military contingent completed the dismantling of the camp in which they had been living for three months.
While a small contingent of army engineers will remain in Pormpuraaw until November to continue managing the completion of the contracted infrastructure work, the main contingent has returned to Brisbane.
âWe have built what we hope will be a lasting legacy for Pormpuraaw,â said Major Stannard.
âHowever, the benefit was mutual, as our staff were able to apply their training and use their skills in a unique environment where they had to overcome the challenges associated with working in a remote location or in a location where it was not. It’s not a simple process to access stores and supplies.
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