Teaming up with the military, Mark Saddler has taken a group of budding Indigenous army, navy and air force recruits under his wing.
A culture walk across the Marrambila on Wednesday was a first for both Mr Saddler and the training team at RAAF Base Wagga, after the Wiradjuri man was invited to mentor the latest group of Indigenous Development Program participants.
The pre-recruitment course gives young Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people, who do not meet the Australian Defence Force’s direct-entry requirements, an opportunity to build their fitness and education before enlisting.
The initiative was kick-started at Kapooka two years ago and aimed to ensure Indigenous Australians were better represented in the Australian Defence Force.
It gives those, who do not meet the direct-entry requirements, an opportunity to build their fitness and education, before enlisting.
Acting as a conduit between the Indigenous community and the army’s training program, Mr Saddler said he was able to share stories, history, tradition, and pride with the recruits, which helped to strengthen their ties with the land and their culture.
“As a Wiradjuri man, I help bring an understanding of how we click and how we work,” Mr Saddler said. “[The course has] had a lot of dropouts in the past. This time only one [recruit] wanted to go home.”
He said the Australian Defence Force was rich with Aboriginal history, which was something he wanted to see strengthened and continued.
“My intention as a Wiradjuri mentor is to instil in them a sense of pride for themselves and their nations,” Mr Saddler said.
“I want them to become role models in their a communities, because we need young Kooris to see what they can achieve.”