Meaningful opportunity

LEADING up to the International Day of People with a Disability, on December 3, RAAF Base Edinburgh has embraced the Defence Administrative Assistance Program (DAAP), which supports an inclusive and diverse workforce.

Secretary of Defence Dennis Richardson launched the program at the base on October 25.

DAAP is a Defence partnership with local Australian Disability Enterprises designed to help people with a disability engage in meaningful work. It assists with administrative support at Defence bases across Australia.

The partnership at Edinburgh is with Barkuma Inc, which assists units including 92 Wing, No. 24 Squadron, the Maritime Patrol Systems Program Office and the Air Warfare Centre.

Mr Richardson said Defence employs more than 100,000 people “and this is a small part of putting back into the community while also meeting our business needs”.

“Approximately 130 people are employed through this program across the country through organisations such as Barkuma,” he said.

Temporary SADFO at Edinburgh GPCAPT Greg Weller hosted the launch. It was attended by Barkuma Inc CEO Geoff Blackwood, Acting Deputy Secretary Defence People Richard Oliver, and members from the Defence Diversity Directorate, Barkuma Inc employees from the DAAP, and Air Force and Army personnel.

Mr Blackwood said the program was important to organisations such as Barkuma Inc, which provided job opportunities and training for about 800 people living with disability across South Australia.

“Often, people with varied abilities do not get to even tender for these opportunities. The fact that we can come and assist others is great. It’s not just lip service. The main thing is that our employees feel very proud to do this,” he said.

He added that Barkuma was an Aboriginal word meaning to help or to assist, “and that’s what we’re here for”.

Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) divisional chief David Kershaw attended the launch, accompanied by members of the group who are working with the DAAP.

Mr Kershaw leads a DSTG “Career and Diversity” initiative.

“This initiative is about nurturing the talent of our people to be future leaders, supporting their career development and embracing workforce diversity,” he said.

He said four employees from the DAAP provided valuable administrative support to the DSTG Edinburgh site.

Services Director Research Information at DSTG Edinburgh Mandy Furlan said the DAAP team helped her with the collection uplift for the Defence Library Service and with jobs such as shredding.

“I recently moved offices and inherited a significant amount of paperwork from the move. If it wasn’t for the DAAP team, I would not have been able to complete the necessary administration in a timely manner,” she said.

In support of the “Career and Diversity” initiative, DSTG has also organised presentations from World Access for the Blind Australia, the University of Adelaide and the RSL to coincide with the International Day of People with a Disability.

By PLTOFF Oliver Jiang and Holly Brambley