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21 January, 2021

Mackay cadet unit sends out the call to arms

Before the pandemic hit, the 122nd Army Cadet Unit in Mackay numbered around 100 members.

By Andrew Sorensen

Major (AAC) John Zimmerman said the 122nd Army Cadet Unit had fared better than they expected. Photo: Andrew Sorensen

This was before the cadets were hit with a five month suspension affecting all units across Australia.

Australian Army Cadets officer commanding John Zimmerman OAM said the unit was forced to work around the limitations by shifting their classes to online sessions.

“Lessons were sent out – email, Facebook and all that sort of stuff,” Major (AAC) Zimmermann said.

“We certainly keep weekly activities happening.”

After the pandemic had finished, he said their numbers fell to around 70 cadets as some sports clubs and community groups started before they could.

“We had around the hundred mark - we were at our sealing pre-COVID,” he said.

“We probably fared way better than expected.”

He said the main focus for cadets now is to try and return to some form of normality while they observe the restrictions required by COVID laws.

This includes splitting the large classes and sending them into separate rooms.

Part of this process involves recruiting a new generation of cadets, which is open for anyone in school aged between 13 to 17.

“We normally draw in between 30 and 40,” he said.

Some of the skills the cadets can learn is self confidence and leadership skills, which could lead to some members operating the unit.

He added that some cadets could become commander of their unit and the leadership structure was made up of cadets

“Leadership training is probably a heavy focus and our unit motto is train to lead,” he said.

“A reasonable proportion of our training is to train the cadets to operate the unit themselves.”

The 122nd Army Cadet Unit currently has 20 expression of interests and is halfway to their goal of 40 new recruits.

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