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By Kyra Gillespie

The Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC) Beaconsfield 403 Squadron commenced a recruitment drive for its second intake this year on Monday 17 July.
Interested youth between the age of 13 to 18 years old are encouraged to come along and give it a go, with a particular focus on growing the numbers of female cadets.
The AAFC is the premier, aviation-orientated, youth development organisation in the country, sponsored by the Royal Australian Air Force.
The Beaconsfield 403 Squadron is one of the biggest growth corridors for youth in the state, drawing cadets from not only Pakenham, Berwick and Beaconsfield, but also as far as Belgrave, Cranbourne, Lyndhurst, Nar Nar Goon and Drouin.
The AAFC trains and cultivates team-work, leadership and confidence in the individual, and gives cadets an enriching experience such as life on all three services bases, being a member of a military parade or guard, field-craft skills, range practices, national and international trips, camps and competitions and lots of flying and aviation-related skills.
Recruiting Officer Samantha O’Sullivan boasts about the benefits of the cadets for young people.
“The cadet experience helps to develop the individual throughout their teenage years, cultivating personal and team qualities and encourages a community and service spirit that will benefit both the cadets and their communities for years to come,” Ms O’Sullivan said.
Cadets are provided with full training from the moment they commence. They participate in drill and ceremonial training, general service knowledge, team building and leadership training, powered and non-powered aircraft flying, air traffic control and aircraft recognition, and also have the opportunity to train in flight simulators.
They attend Anzac Day and Remembrance Day services both locally and in Melbourne, and visit the Avalon Air Show where they get to fly on military aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules in the skies above Melbourne.
Cadets also participate in bivouacs, a camp-style activity in the bush where cadets get to put into practice the skills and lessons they have learned in the classroom.
They engage in field-craft activities such as bush survival, navigation, radio communications, and how to move undetected in the bush, as well as work as a team.
“Through these activities, cadets have the chance to develop a sense of purpose, responsibility, self-confidence, respect, discipline, self-reliance, leadership, and a commitment to voluntary service,” Ms O’Sullivan said.
The AAFC’s next mission is to recruit more female cadets.
Commanding Officer Warrant Officer (AAFC) Mark Dunstan said: “That’s the beauty of the organisation. There’s no gender on the teams; male and female as a mixed group compete for the same prize.”
“Currently, the top two senior ranking cadets at the squadron are females, and of the three cadets we currently have on the two-week long promotion courses – two of them are female. So in the public arena, the girls are the leaders,” Warrant Officer Dunstan said.
Leading Cadet Angelina O’Sullivan, who joined in 2016 said: “My parents saw an advertisement for cadets, and while I tried to convince myself that this wasn’t for me, I joined anyway. What I found was how great the training program is, and the opportunities and camaraderie it offers someone of my age. The confidence, life skills, friendships and unique experiences that you gain along the way is truly amazing. It is not about the individual, but the overall squadron, through team-work, respect and consideration, and I am so grateful for the experiences that led me to this point. It’s up to you how much you do or don’t put in, but by giving it your all, you will benefit not only in the short term, but well into your future.”
The AAFC allows cadets to experience a wider option of careers in the defence force.
Prospective candidates will often stand out from their fellow applicants due to the extensive training afforded, discipline and leadership qualities instilled that are adaptable to a wide variety of professional fields.
403 Squadron meets every Monday night during school term at 6.30pm at the St Francis Xavier College, Beaconsfield campus. Applicants must be 13 years of age on the date of enrolment, and not attained the age of 18 years, have parental or guardian permission to enrol.
For more information on how to join, contact admino.403sqn@aafc.org.au

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