Army Recruit Training Centre (ARTC) – Kapooka’s connection to the Wagga community has become even stronger with the appointment of Indigenous leaders Hewitt Whyman and Joycelan Williams as ARTC’s Indigenous “Aunty” and “Uncle”.

ARTC Regimental Sergeant Major Warrant Officer Class One Clifford Bell said that from a training perspective the move would assist in the highly successful Indigenous development programs that had been conducted at ARTC since 2017.

“Key to the continued and improved retention of Indigenous trainees are the ARTC Warrant Officer and Sergeant Indigenous mentor positions that provide cultural support to trainees and cultural advice to instructors and staff, “Warrant Officer Bell said.

“Unfortunately these positions are vacant and difficult to fill. To fill this gap we have been relying on engagement from these two respected local Indigenous people who have been voluntarily involved in our Indigenous programs on an increasingly frequent basis.

“Consequently we’ve sought to formalise this relationship with Uncle Hewitt and Aunty Joycelan for our benefit and theirs.

“The assistance they have already provided us, and will now continue to provide in this new formalised arrangement is invaluable. Our Indigenous development programs enable Indigenous participants to meet the entry requirements to the Army Recruit  Course (ARC) and over three quarters of them go on to successfully march-out.

“But aside from that, if formalising these fantastic local individuals as ARTC’s Aunty and Uncle goes some way to recognising their standing in the local community, then we absolutely welcome that too.

“Aunty Joycelan is a Wiradjuri Elder who has a long history of cultural mentorship and education through art, school dam TAFE programs in the Wagga area.

“Uncle Hewitt, a Yorta Yorta man served in the Australian Army between 1968 and 1977, and his final posting was as a Recruit Instructor a Kapooka before commencing a long and successful career in the Aboriginal Legal Service.

“Both of these individuals are excellent local citizens and perfectly suited to our needs for Indigenous mentorship to act as advisors to staff and mentors to recruits,” Warrant Officer Bell said.