July 3rd 2012
Can our Navy Cadets survive?
Learning real hands-on skills such as sailing or getting a powerboat license, marine engineering, and communications, gaining confidence and a sense of leadership, plus just plain old having fun, are what the Magnetic Island Navy Cadets are all about. But, right now, due to the retirement or departure of a number of staff off Magnetic, the organisation, which has helped build the lives of Islanders between the ages of 12 and 19, since 1999, may have to close due to a lack of staff (who don’t need a military background) particularly women staff.
“We can’t recruit without staff”. That’s the message we learned from retired Cadets’ Officer, Lieutenant Jim Davis, who started the Island group which has had up to 30 young young people among its ranks in better years and over 150 involved over the past 12 years.
At present, the Training Ship (TS) Magnetic Island, officially a Sub-Unit of TS Coral Sea based in South Townsville, has only 9 or 10 cadets. According to Jim Davis, the problem, stems from a number of former long-term staff leaving the Island.
The Unit now have only 2 appointed staff and one Unit Support Volunteer (USV) who have been with the cadet unit for over 5 years. Staff members to replace the staff who are retiring, or who are due to retire, are urgently required to ensure that the Magnetic Island ANC Unit continues operating.
At this year’s annual inspection Jim, who is helping with publicity, learned from senior officers that, without more staff, the Island unit would be, ‘virtually unviable’.
A major factor is the need to include at least one woman amongst the staff for the group which has seen many girls gain great life skills.
“It would be a very sad occasion should the Unit have to close down after all the work that so many put in to making it the success it was. In 2010 the Magnetic Island Navy Cadet Unit was judged as the Best Unit in North Queensland.
”It’s not recruiting for the navy but youth development sponsored by the navy. Only about 1 in 100 cadets actually go on to join the navy," said Jim Davis.
Staff are appointed by the Director Australian Navy Cadets after undergoing interviews, police checks and a psychological assessment of their suitability to work with young people. In addition voluntary staff may be appointed for specific duties by Senior ANC Officers and full training is provided.
To become a Navy Cadet you need to be between the ages of 12.5 years and 19 years old, be a permanent resident of Australia and assessed medically fit to Australian Naval cadet standards.
ANC Training Ships are required to have a Unit Committee. This committee is made up of the parents of cadets and other interested people from the community. The main role is to provide and maintain facilities and equipment not supplied by the Navy. The Unit is also recruiting volunteers for Unit Committee.
Anyone interested in taking part in this exciting activity and wish to find out more about Navy Cadets and how to join can contact the CO of TS Coral Sea, LEUT John Osborne, 0412 724 141, or Magnetic Island Sub-unit OIC, Robert Allan, on 0408 005 830.
To learn more about Magnetic Islands’ Navy Cadets we suggest readers use our search engine box at the top left corner of our front page and enter “cadets” (no inverted commas) and explore the stories we have reported on them over the years.
Story and photo: George Hirst
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