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Monday, 29 July 2019
Page: 1275


Mr LEESER (Berowra) (11:30): I'd like to thank my friend the member for Canning for his motion, which gives me the opportunity to speak about the cadet units in my area as well as to highlight the success of one of my constituents. Cadets do a range of activities, from drill training for discipline and teamwork to field craft, including knots, camouflage and survival radio communications; navigation; firearms training, including proper cleaning, handling and firing of machine guns; first aid; physical training; and overnight bivouacs to test and refine field craft skills and use specialist equipment such as personal radios, night-vision goggles and first aid equipment. We see cadets most often on ceremonial occasions for dawn services, marches and remembrance events.

I want to acknowledge the work of two local cadet units in my area that provide such great service on those ceremonial occasions across all the different locations in my electorate, including at Hornsby, Brooklyn, Berowra, Galston, Glenorie, Kenthurst and at the Anzac Jawan Cenotaph. I want to acknowledge 226 Army Cadet Unit based at Normanhurst Boys High School, now led by Captain Geoffrey King, formerly led by Captain Stan Hinsby. I also want to acknowledge the Barker College Cadet Unit, whose commanding officer is Captain Justin Langley. These cadet units bring something special to the remembrance commemorations in my area. I want to thank them for their service and acknowledge the support they give all of our local RSL sub-branches—in particular, the Hornsby sub-branch, with local hero Terry James as its president.

Recently I was told the success of one of my constituents, Francine Jepsen, in the Australian Air Force Cadets. I think her success and her feelings about cadets illustrate the benefits of cadets which other speakers have outlined today. Francine lives in Cherrybrook. She attended Cherrybrook Technology High School, is currently studying security studies at Macquarie University and hopes to serve in the RAAF. Francine is a member of 322 (City of Ryde) Squadron, which is based in Dundas and is part of 3 Wing. She joined the Air Force Cadets three years ago.

The Australian Air Force Cadets were founded as the Air Training Corps in 1941. Since then, thousands of young men and women have played a part in the organisation, exemplifying its core focus on youth development. 3 Wing is one of nine wings in the AAFC and comprises over 2,200 cadets and 300 volunteer staff, all of whom are spread throughout New South Wales and the ACT. 322 Squadron was formed in 1951, and the unit has over 150 cadets and is the largest unit in the country. 322 Squadron has a comprehensive training program which offers a variety of activities, such as bivouacs, air experience days, ceremonial parades, firearms safety training and social events through the year.

A few weeks ago, Francine was selected to attend the cadet warrant officer promotion course at RAAF Base Wagga, amongst a detachment of 164 cadets and 31 staff members from across 3 Wing. The course went for two weeks, with long days from 6 am to 10 pm, containing intensive lessons on both practical and theoretical leadership, instructional technique, field craft, service knowledge skill and ceremony. Francine topped the course and was awarded the Gilbertson Award for the Dux of the Course and the Derek Wynn Leadership Award, and was promoted to Cadet Warrant Officer. This is the third promotion she's attained. She was parade commander for the final March Out Parade. She told me:

It was nothing short of emotional to graduate alongside my peers in front of our supportive friends and families, having come so far together in such a short period of time.

Francine was called to serve in AAFC while watching the Anzac Day march in 2015. She said:

I remember seeing veterans, ADF members and all services of cadets marching together, and feeling pride and respect for each individual which passed my line of sight. I told my mum that one day I'd like to be marching there too.

Francine credits the mentoring of great staff at both squadron and wing level for her enjoyment of cadets and for the leadership skills they've taught her—in particular, commanding officer Squadron Leader Merridy Thompson and Warrant Officer Chris Gibson, who supported her and taught her 'the true meaning of accountability and respect for followership'. As she writes:

I have been lucky enough to be mentored by staff members at both squadron and wing level, who volunteer their time to enhance cadet careers and create life-changing experiences.

Today Francine enjoys marching in the Anzac Day parades herself, where she feels 'an even deeper sense of pride from within the organisation and for the Australian Defence Force'. Last year, when Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited Australia, Francine's squadron was chosen to meet them. None of this has diminished the humility that Francine brings to her leadership. She's acknowledged the tenacity and endurance of her friendship with the 20 other cadets who graduated with her. Francine intends to leave her mark on the AAFC as her cadet career comes to an end at the conclusion of the year and looks forward to giving back in staff positions. In her words, cadets has allowed her to grow and develop in a safe environment, presenting her with opportunities she couldn't have found elsewhere. I want to thank Francine and all the cadets for their service.