The remote East Pilbara community of Jigalong in WA has come together for the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Programme (AACAP) 2019 Closing Ceremony.
Minister for Defence Senator Linda Reynolds said the AACAP deployment harnesses the skills of the construction, trade and training personnel in the Army.
“This is the 23rd consecutive year the Australian Army has deployed to a remote Indigenous community to deliver infrastructure, vocational skills training and health care services,” Minister Reynolds said.
“The 150-strong contingent of Defence personnel, along with teams from Papua New Guinea and Tonga, have spent three months building projects including a public amenities block and a youth and family centre.”
Minister for Indigenous Affairs Ken Wyatt said AACAP was an important element of the Government’s Closing the Gap initiative.
“The Army has done incredible work during AACAP 2019 to improve health, education and employment outcomes for the Jigalong community,” Minister Wyatt said.
“The Army Dental Clinic made a significant contribution to improving health in the community, treating over 60 residents in Jigalong.
“The Vocational Training Program was also a huge success with four paid positions in the local construction industry created, along with one paid position in the local school, and TAFE qualifications in tourism awarded to three trainees.”
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said Jigalong was the first Pilbara community to benefit from the program.
“On behalf of the people of Jigalong, in my electorate of Durack, I wish to thank the Army for their hard work and involvement in the community over the last three months,” Minister Price said.
“The Jigalong community have thoroughly enjoyed hosting the AACAP members, and have engaged with them through weekly sport, school visits and special events, including a Welcome to Country ceremony and NAIDOC Week celebrations.”
AACAP is a joint initiative between the National Indigenous Australians Agency and the Army, conducted annually since 1997. Planning is already underway for the next AACAP in Pormpuraaw, Queensland.