East Timor visit sheds new light for CIT employee
28 Feb 2011
The inability to tell Reserve soldiers from their Regular Army counterparts while on operational deployment was something Canberra Institute of Technologyís Shane Kay didn't expect when visiting East Timor recently.
Shane was in Dili as a participant on Exercise Boss Lift, a Department of Defence program that aims to improve understanding of the skills and capabilities Defence Reservists can bring back into the civilian workplace.
As Executive Director, Corporate Governance and Organisational Capability, Shane was visiting Media Relations Manager Cameron Jamieson, who is serving an eight-month tour as the Senior Military Public Affairs Officer to the International Stabilisation Force.
"I found it hard to believe how integrated the Reservists were. The fact I couldn't tell the difference between the two speaks volumes for the quality of training Reservists receive at home," he said.
Shane was able to spend time with Cameron and other Army Reservists and their employers over a three-day period, and experience some of the aspects of life on operations, such as transport by helicopter and truck, firing weapons on a range, and a number of briefings on Australian Defence Force activities in East Timor.
His previous experience with Reserve service has been limited, and his perception of Army Reserve was that it was something akin to boy scouts, where people had the opportunity to play soldiers.
"I didnít realise just how real it is, that it is actually a real other career. They learn so many world skills and other qualities such as dealing with adversity, discipline, respect, and helping others," he said.
Shane said he would now look at Reserve soldiers with a lot more enthusiasm and he would consider how best to use Cameronís skills back in Australia.
"The Cameron I saw in East Timor was quite different to the one I see at home, in a positive way. He was really involved with managing social activities, which was a side I have never seen, and he seems to be working in his role at a broader level. He has always been good at what he does but it's all that other experience that makes a difference."
Cameron said that he has been able to do his normal civilian role at a higher level.
"This has been good for me because I am doing some of the higher function things, such as emergency management and working with the media at a higher level than I normally would outside of a critical incident at CIT. It has been great in terms of professional development because it strengthens my skill set," he said.
Cameron said his highlight had been finding out that the role the Defence Force plays is still a very important one.
"I've been in the Army for 28 years, both as a Regular and Reserve soldier, and have deployed six times. This has been the most satisfying so far. We're making a big difference just by being here," he said.
He says he enjoys being able to balance his civilian and military lives as an Army Reservist.
"Being a Reserve soldier suits the stage of life I'm at, where I have a family and I donít want to move around as much. I want to have a civilian career. I want to be able to come home most days so I can be as good a husband and a father as I can."
He enjoyed the opportunity to show Shane what he does and, in turn, Shane said he now appreciated the infrastructure that supports Reserve service.
"I didn't realise the importance of organisations like the Defence Reserves Support Council, for example, and the high profile support that Reserve service does get, so that was a good result from the trip," he said.
Operation ASTUTE is the Australian Defence Force's contribution to the maintenance of stability and peace in East Timor. The force consists of 475 Australian and New Zealand personnel with almost half of these currently being Army Reservists from Queensland, and is led by an Army Reservist, Colonel Mick Reilly.
Exercise Boss Lift is conducted by the Cadet, Reserve and Employer Support Division (CRESD), which is responsible for facilitating employer support for Australia's Defence Reservists.
The benefits of a Boss Lift experience to employers and Reservists is strongly supported by Senator David Feeney, Parliamentary Secretary for Defence.