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Monday, 30 November 2015
Page: 14177


Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (10:57): As a member whose electorate is home to the second-largest Defence Force population in Australia, I involve myself in as many activities as possible to get a better understanding of the many different aspects of our ADF. I recently had the opportunity to participate in another Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program.

The Defence International Training Centre at RAAF Williams Laverton, in Victoria, is an ADF training unit that provides language training and cultural familiarisation courses for foreign military officers. They host students from the defence forces of more than 50 Pacific, European, Middle Eastern, Asian, African and South American nations. Occasionally, the centre also hosts scientists, engineers, pilots and other professions. DITC welcomes more than 800 students a year, with an average of 50 students in residence at any one time; however, there were considerably more than that when I visited recently. After completing their training at DITC, the next stage is to study at one of our flagship training institutions, such as ADFA, the Australian Defence College and RMC Duntroon. One of the key objectives of DITC is to improve the training provided in Australia to foreign defence personnel by integrating them into our ADF training systems. Another key aspect is to foster cross-cultural awareness between our ADF and the foreign military personnel, which helps to promote Australia as an important player in our region and as a partner nation.

I was embedded with various groups as they studied, trained and became familiar with Australian culture. There were even classes in Aussie slang and culture, in which I made a small contribution. The participants at DITC range from newly enlisted personnel to senior officers. There were three distinct groups while I was there, including 11 officers of colonel-equivalent rank who will complete strategic studies in Canberra, 31 officers of major-equivalent rank who will complete masters-level strategic studies in Canberra, and 22 officer cadets for pre-officer training preparation headed for ADFA or RMC. I was delighted to join the latter group for a very special field trip to the magnificently renovated Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.

The courses include an overview of Australian customs, culture and environment and the Advanced Australian English Language Course. There is also a course known as MELT, Methodology of English Language Teaching, for officers who are training to be English teachers for the military in their own nations. While I was there I attended several lectures on various international issues, including a very informative presentation by Professor Kingsbury on the recent elections in Burma and the future impact of the results.

All these programs play a crucial role in our relationships with our neighbours. The officers I met were extremely focused on developing new skills to take back to their own countries. I particularly want to pay tribute to the commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Fiona Curtis, and Lieutenant Commander Rob Lightbody who gave so generously of their time to ensure I had a complete understanding of the wide range of activities they undertake at DITC, as well as their team of dedicated staff. They truly are outstanding ambassadors for Australia.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Sukkar ): In accordance with standing order 193 the time for constituency statements has concluded.