Watching the planes take off from Cairns Airport while growing up ignited a passion for flying in Hans Batzke' and thanks to CQUniversity's Bachelor of Aviation' the aspiring pilot is fulfilling his childhood dream.
"Since leaving high school' my goal has always been to eventually fly professionally in some capacity' either through regional airlines or the air freight sector of aviation.
"However' back in the day' opportunities to study aviation for Indigenous students never existed' particularly due to the high costs in achieving the necessary qualifications'" Hans said'
"It was by chance that I stumbled across CQUniversity. Once I discovered the CQU Aviation faculty's relocation to an international airport like Cairns' I jumped at the opportunity to study my commercial (CPL) and air transport pilot licence (ATPL)."
Beginning his studies as a mature age student' Hans explained that finding a balance between family' uni' work' and community is critical no matter who you are – but these pressures are often intensified as an Indigenous student.
"My study journey has been difficult over the past year with many tragic deaths in my family (unrelated to COVID). Losing my brother to cancer in Term 1 this year has been particularly hard.
"Cultural expectations and family commitments are an added pressure. Indigenous culture is collective' community-based with a heavy emphasis on close and extended family'" he said.
"A death in the family' as an example' has cultural protocols to consider from the moment of death to burial and right up to the placing of the tombstone 12 months later.
"It is why many Indigenous students grapple with getting that balance right every day without the right support."
Despite these challenges' Hans' resilience' passion' and commitment never wavered' with CQUniversity supporting him every step of the way.
"As my lecturer' Professor Thatcher always says' 'Onwards and upwards!' It is a great saying that I have taken on board and helps me get back in the groove when times are tough'" he said.
"I was also fortunate to have received Indigenous scholarships' and man' it has been a real godsend. The costs are more prohibitive in aviation and scholarships are a great study assistance tool and a brilliant method of motivation.
"Tackling things on your own may work sometimes' but other times' a little help can be the difference in getting the answer or the breakthrough you need."
He encouraged others to pursue a rewarding career in the aviation industry.
"A huge potential exists in both the air freight and passenger services for trained pilots. This is due to the explosion of online buying and marketing trends. The world wide web has created a big demand for international airfreight of goods and services.
"National and regional airline partnerships through CQU have also paved the way for current and future aviation students to be placed in meaningful employment upon successful completion of our aviation studies."
He hoped that these advancements' paired with CQUni's inclusive philosophy and highly experienced teaching staff' will result in a steady increase of Indigenous aviation students and graduates over the coming years.
"There are not many Indigenous pilots in Australia and I think this needs to change'" Hans said.
"Aviation is not an easy course' however' there are many prospective Indigenous students who have the capabilities to do it.
"Once I graduate' I hope to share the wealth of knowledge and experience I have gained through this course with future Indigenous students who wish to become commercial pilots."