Growing up in a family of Australian Defence Force (ADF) members at Atherton in the Queensland highlands outside of Cairns, Rian Whitby always planned to join up – it was just a matter of how and when.
After completing two years of a Bachelor of Engineering at James Cook University (JCU), Rian found his way into the Navy with a Defence University Sponsorship.
The Sponsorship has been the perfect transition for Rian to gain the career he always wanted. Rian can study at university, get paid and have a guaranteed job in the ADF at the end of it.
The Sponsorship has offered Rian an exceptional level of financial stability that has made the world of difference to life as a student. No other university sponsorship Rian researched offered the same level of financial assistance together with the support network that Defence offer.
“The Navy gives me support outside of the university,” says Rian. “I know that there is always someone on base to offer help or assistance, or even to just talk things through.”
With the choice of Navy, Army or Air Force, with each having a significant need for qualified engineers, Rian’s decision to enter into the Navy was thoroughly investigated.
“From an engineering perspective I feel there is more happening in the Navy compared to the Air Force or Army and I like the idea of knowing I’ll be posted to one base for the first three years of the job,” he said.
Since being part of the sponsorship program Rian counts the highlight so far as being flown down to HMAS Albatross outside of Nowra on the NSW South Coast. The trip opened his eyes to the potential on offer and made him keener than ever to continue to join the Navy.
Subsequent to completing his third year and now in the fourth year of his Engineering Degree at James Cook University, as part of his Sponsorship Rian spends two weeks training at a Navy base each year.
Challenges have been few and far between for Rian since joining the ADF but he knows there is a lot of challenging and confronting experiences on the way.
Rian appreciates how the sponsorship has facilitated his future career in the Navy. “There is a support network to call on for assistance and it is largely discrete – you always know you can trust who you’re talking to.
“And I am acutely aware of the career I will be undertaking when I graduate; I understand how things will flow when I graduate due to my exposure to the Navy life.
‘The great thing is, once you decide it’s for you, there are several years of study, the opportunity for contact with personnel and Defence experiences to keep you motivated,” he said.
For more information about the Defence University Sponsorship visit