For the past 25 years, the Australian Maritime College Search has had a close working relationship with a host of Pacific nations, born from 22 patrol boats gifted to 12 Pacific nations in the 1980s and 1990s.
A graduation ceremony on Wednesday also marked the 25th anniversary of the college’s partnership with the Australian Defence, providing specific training to Pacific Islanders to run their patrol boats.
Each year about 150 students come to Launceston to study short courses: instructor Chris White said the course was a unique partnership between the college’s commercial arm and Defence in the South Pacific Islands.
He said students who graduated on Wednesday would return to their current naval or police jobs.
“I’ve got [students] here that are mechanics, electricians, ship drivers, so there’s a spread of different people that will go back parts of their navy or police force, hopefully with more knowledge on how to manage and lead people,” he said.
This term the students were tasked with designing and installing a brand new kitchen, reflective of the ships they live and work on.
Tevita Waqavakatoga, from Fiji, said the skills learnt during the course had changed the way students approached leadership.
Joseph Napa, from the Cook Islands, said designing and installing a ship-ready kitchen had given the students new confidence.
“The toughest bit was the planning bit at the start, but after a few references from AMC Search … we had to set out an objective for us to aim for, and this is our result,” he said.