An innovative Searanger program hosted by Charles Darwin University has provided real training and employment opportunities to participants.
After two weeks on Groote Eylandt covering navigation, boating procedures, maintenance and various other skills needed to be a coxswain, 11 Indigenous participants passed the testing 8 metre coxswain course.
CDU Lecturer in Maritime Studies, Milton Miller said the program delivered a wide range of training including driver education, coxswain training, survival at sea and occupational health and safety.
“The course equips participants with the skills to command with safety and efficiency a commercial vessel of less than 8 meters and provides employment opportunities in the small vessel sector including tourism, commercial workboats, fisheries and aquaculture.”
The course also achieved a national first with participant Ida Mamarika becoming the first Indigenous woman to qualify for the 8 meter Inshore Coxswain certificate.
Mr Miller said the course also aimed at filling a need for coxswain training for students with limited literacy and numeracy.
“These are the people who will help guard our coastlines from illegal fishing and manage the environmental issues that spring up in some of the Territory’s most beautiful, if inaccessible, areas,” he said.
“Such a training scheme is based on the concept that the best people to patrol the remote coastal fringes are the people who live on the coast – the ‘saltwater people’– or traditional owners whose ancestors have been managing the environment in their own way for hundreds of years.”
Several course graduates are hoping to use their qualification to gain employment with Customs and join the frontline in patrolling the vast expanses of coast across the Territory.