ADF Cadets

COVID-19 and build our nation’s recovery. Team work, leadership and a willingness to contribute are going to be attributes that we need in abundance. We are therefore very fortunate in this country that we have three branches of the ADF cadets, which for decades have helped to instil these values in generations of young Australians.

In the electorate of Fisher we are particularly blessed. We have four units of Army, Navy and Air Force cadets. They are doing a fantastic job in building the future for Sunshine Coast leaders and understand the value and importance of duty and responsibility. TS Onslow in Golden Beach has been going since 1976. It is now in great hands under Commanding Officer Lieutenant Peter Peroz and Whole Ship Coordinator Sub Lieutenant Kerry Contessa. The unit is currently undergoing a transition, with a number of senior cadets, including Cadet Petty Officer Barnett having recently aged out. Nonetheless, the unit’s 36 cadets have kept up a full schedule, including participating in the PCYC games in Brisbane; a ship visit to HMAS Mermaid; rigging, sailing, kayaking and taking part in local remembrance activities.

Equally, the Royal Australian Navy Cadets of TS Centaur don’t let being up a mountain range in Maleny deter them from taking part in all kinds of naval activities. The unit commemorates the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur, which was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine off the southern tip of Moreton Island in 1943 with the loss of some 268 lives. The unit has been running since 1997 and, since that time, its cadets have taken part in sailing and powerboating, as well as bushwalking, camps and parades, which you’d expect from a unit in the hinterland. TS Centaur do a terrific job in instilling leadership, self-discipline and teamwork in their cadets, and it’s a privilege to watch these traits on display every year when I travel up to Maleny for the Australia Day service.

Number 223 Squadron at Caloundra Aerodrome are also going through a period of transition, ably led by their Acting Commanding Officer David Bentley. At the beginning of this year, their respected commander Pilot Officer Barry McGlynn was promoted and moved on to a regional role, while the cadets have been shifting to a new age range of 12 to 18 years. Despite this, throughout COVID-19, 223 Squadron have managed to maintain almost their full program. Their 92 cadets have continued to parade every Monday night; they’ve done their usual bivouacs and, perhaps most importantly of all, they’ve continued to fly.

Earlier this year, I visited 106 Army Cadet Unit, then based at Meridan Plains state college, and met with their commanding officer, Captain Morgan Way. Captain Way is a plumber and builder—so he’s got to be a good bloke!—with a decade’s experience in teaching young apprentices and he brings that experience, along with a passion for the outdoors, to his work with our local cadets. He is ably assisted by 2IC Lieutenant Rob Couchman and administration officer Lieutenant Allison Couchman. Though 106 Army Cadet Unit and its 90 cadets have recently had to relocate to Caloundra Aerodrome, they now have big plans for taking the unit forward. They are instituting a buddy system, expanding the range of locations and the activities they do, and bringing first aid training to all their senior cadets. Perhaps most importantly, they are elevating the role of senior cadets in the management of day-to-day operational matters and giving them input into decision-making. It’s exactly this kind of experience of adult leadership and responsibility which lies at the heart of the value of our cadet programs.

By giving young people a voice and accountability for their actions, we grow their confidence and help them to understand the consequences of the decisions that they make. Ultimately, that is what the ADF cadets are all about. When they join up, cadets make a commitment to our community. They demonstrate their desire to make a contribution and their willingness to take responsibility for themselves and for their fellow Australians. Cadet leaders like Peter Peroz, David Bentley and Morgan Way are fantastic role models, giving up their time to help these young people to develop their skills and providing them with an example of service and passion that I know will stand them and their country in good stead into the future.