Recognising more than seven decades of youth development service, the City of Perth recently granted the rare and ancient Freedom of Entry privilege to the Australian Air Force Cadets of No 7 Wing.
The Freedom of Entry privilege acknowledges the Air Force Cadets’ ongoing support for the City of Perth, including the annual ANZAC Day Parade and other ceremonial events, as well as its considerable service to young people in Western Australia.
Almost 400 Cadets and staff marched in the parade which, in keeping with tradition, was halted by City Marshal, Police Superintendent Kim Massam, before being allowed to continue to Council House. Following this challenge, parade members formally saluted the citizens of Perth.
Freedom of Entry was awarded by Lord Mayor of the City of Perth, The Right Honourable Lisa-M Scaffidi. Among those attending the parade were Director General Cadets – Air Force Air Commodore Terry Delahunty AM, Commanding Office of No 2 Flying Training Squadron Wing Commander David Strong, Squadron Leader Anthony Komorowski representing the Senior ADF Officer WA and Commanding Officer of No 25 (City of Perth) Squadron.
“The Australian Air Force Cadets is one of the most dynamic, effective and satisfying youth programs available and is open to young people aged 13-20 years,” said parade leader, Wing Commander (AAFC) Andrew Shearman OAM.
“Air Force Cadets get to do the things that most other young people only watch on television, including learning to fly aircraft solo while still in their mid-teens, using civilian and military rifles under supervision, going bush wearing camouflage uniform, operating military radios, using field signals, learning cooking and survival skills, studying aeronautics, navigation, meteorology and radio communications, first aid and music; as well as enjoying interstate and international travel.
Involvement in the Air Force Cadets can generate credits for the Year 12 Certificate of Education. Cadets may also undertake three weeks per year full-time tertiary-level training in leadership, decision-making, initiative, self-discipline, time-management, clear thinking, public speaking, management and administration that will qualify them for a TAFE Certificate III in Business Management.
The origins of the privilege of Freedom of Entry to a city and the colourful ceremony attached to it, have much deeper historical significance than the modern ceremony may imply. It dates back to Ancient Rome, where it was an offence for legions to enter the city without permission, as the Senate was fearful of coups against them.
Early in the 11th century, the walled cities of Europe trained soldiers for defensive measures and city protection. During the 12th century, when wandering bands of armed men during and after the Crusades were often undisciplined, Freedom of the City was rigorously controlled by the city leaders as a measure of precaution rather than an act of grace.
In granting Freedom of Entry, a city was stating that the unit was trusted so much by the people, that they had the right to enter with ‘swords drawn, drums beating, colours flying and band playing’.
In modern times, the granting of Freedom of Entry bestows no legal right or privilege on the recipient body, but it is accepted that the conferment is the most honourable distinction a city may bestow.