The 2018 class of Airservices Australia’s Aviation Rescue Fire Fighter program has graduated, with a quarter identifying as Indigenous.
Fifteen weeks of discipline, hard work and sacrifice have paid off for 20 young men and women who have graduated from the Aviation Rescue Fire Fighter program.
Diversity has been a highlight of the 2018 class, with a quarter identifying as Indigenous, including Leon Kelly and Josh Sibosado.
The Western Australian men took part in Airservices Australia’s Indigenous traineeship program, in conjunction with Kimberly TAFE.
Their graduation ceremony is the culmination of 12 months of TAFE study, an induction program and 15 weeks of training.
Mr Kelly says the process has been worth it.
“Oh it’s really… it hasn’t really sunk in yet. But I’m feeling really proud and it’s a long time coming so I’m feeling really good about it,” he said.
The program receives over 2,000 applications every year, but only 20 people make it through to the final stage.
Graduates go on to work as firefighters at airports around Australia.
Mr Sibosado says it was the team aspect that drew him to the industry.
“Every facet of firefighting you’re relying on everyone around you and that could come down to life and death. I really have the trust the guys that have come through and I hope that they have the same with me,” he said.
Lead trainer Gary Taner said Mr Kelly and Mr Sibosado excelled in the program.
“Their calmness – incredibly calm. Their demeanours are fantastic. Their attitudes, their willingness to get involved. They’ve really performed extremely well throughout the course,” he said.
Mr Taner says he hopes the men’s success will encourage more diversity in the firefighting industry.
Mr Kelly will return to Broome to become the first Indigenous recruit to work at that airport.
“I really encourage it when I get back home really get around other people let them know how to get into. It’s a really rewarding career so I definitely will be encouraging it when I go back,” he said.
Mr Sibosado says he also wants to encourage other Indigenous Australians to become firefighters.
“Probably one of my driving forces is to try and be a leader for other young Indigenous lads and girls coming through and sort of showing them that life is worth the drive and worth the dreams,” he said.