I’m Thomas. I’m Canberra born and raised and I’m a descendant of the Wiradjuri tribe on my father’s side.
I joined the Department of Defence as part of the Indigenous Apprenticeships Programme (IAP) in 2015.
Before I applied for the IAP I was working as a mechanic but I decided it was time for a career change. My brother and sister both went through the Indigenous Australian Government Development Program (IAGDP) and work in the Australian Public Service (APS), so when my brother emailed me information on the IAP I was quick to apply.
I’m currently a Project Officer in the Woomera Prohibited Area Coordination Office. I work with a great team of people and we facilitate non-Defence access to the Woomera Prohibited Area located in South Australia, which is home to one of the world’s largest military testing ranges. It was challenging going from a physical job to one that is quite intellectual, but I really enjoy my role. I’ve found that working as a mechanic helped build my customer service skills which I now use when dealing with stakeholders.
I thoroughly enjoyed studying as part of the IAP and completing my Diploma of Government, and the program exceeded my expectations.
Approximately 30 apprentices started with me at Defence and I still chat to all of them! I was paired up with a buddy who I catch up with every couple of weeks and I’m now the chair of the new ACT chapter of the Defence Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Network (DATSIN).
I would definitely recommend the IAP to friends, family and Indigenous people considering a career in the APS. The possibilities are endless once you’re in the APS and the IAP offers so many opportunities to study and broaden your knowledge in a range of different departments. Having a certificate or diploma paid for while you’re working is an incredible opportunity and I’d encourage anyone thinking about it to apply.