Working With The NZDF Chaplaincy Team
CPL Natalie Eagles, 27 Squadron Townsville - RAAF Reserve, writes about her TASMAN Scheme experience:
I was initially recruited into the Australian Defence Force as an Army Reservist Clerk Admin in Perth and joined the crew at ASQN 10LH where I stayed for approximately three years prior to relocating to Townsville with my husband-to-be. In Townsville I worked with both 11BASB and the RTC Unit at Lavarack Barracks before transferring to the Airforce Reserves after 8.5 years in the “green machine”.
At RAAF Townsville I have been working in a unique role as an Admin Assistant to the RAAF Chaplains and RAAF Base Warrant Officer Disciplinary (WOD) - for both Permanent and Reserve members since 2010. There’s never a dull moment in the Chaplaincy Centre with Mental Health Courses one week, and a Court hearing the next. Both the Padre and the Base WOD are based in the one building but at opposite ends and as a result there have been suggestions we need new external signage stating “Judgement” for the Base WOD and “Redemption” for the Chaplains – including large arrows highlighting their individual locations!
Surprise Nomination for the TASMAN Scheme
I was unaware that my previous Padre – CHAP Cam Carroll – had nominated me in Dec 2013 for the TASMAN Scheme, so it was quite a shock to receive a call from MAJ Hincks on 24 April 2014 advising me that I had made it to the second round in the nomination process.
It certainly made my day as it also happened to be my birthday!
The TASMAN Scheme was initiated by the Defence Reserves Association (DRA) and is sponsored by the Cadet, Reserve and Employer Support Division (CRESD).
It aims to promote Reserve service by providing opportunities for high-performing junior non-commissioned officers (JNCOs) of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Reserves to undertake a two week secondment with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). The Scheme rewards their dedication and commitment to Reserve service, while strengthening the ties and promoting interoperability between the ADF and NZDF.
My experience of the NZ Tri-Service Chaplaincy
The NZDF Chaplaincy team is also known as the “purple service” due to all three services working together i.e. Navy Chaplain at an Airforce Base, Airforce Chaplain at an Army Base, etc.
I arrived at RNZAF Base Auckland at Whenuapai on the 20 Apr 15 where I was based for the first week of my secondment and I was hosted by CHAP Janie McPhee (Airforce), CHAP Colin Mason (Navy), and Lisa De Jong (Chaplaincy Admin Auckland).
During my time I undertook a Base wide visit of all facilities which also included a meeting with the Base Commander – GPCAPT Tim Walsh. The team at the Parachute Training Support Unit invited me on a familiarisation flight around the outskirts of the city of Auckland and I thoroughly enjoyed the unique views from such small plane.
We visited the Youth Development Unit at Hobsonville and I saw the remaining remnants of some Airforce hangars which were being dismantled following the closure of the Hobsonville Airforce base and sale of the land to the NZ Government in 2002. The Hobsonville and Whenuapai bases merged to form RNZAF Base Auckland in 1965.
Along with CHAP Stuart Hight, I attended the ANZAC Day Dawn service and midday Civic service at the Auckland Museum, followed by a post-service gathering at the Hobsonville Returned Services Association (RSA). The following day I attended a Sunday service at a local Church with CHAP McPhee and her husband WOFF Jake McPhee with all of us in full service dress as CHAP McPhee was presenting an ANZAC Day speech and sermon.
Other activities during this first week included a familiarisation ride in a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) and a tour of the Devonport Naval Base. I managed to see Auckland and beyond from the city’s Sky Tower and also took part in a pub quiz night as the honorary Aussie. Sadly, I failed the only Aussie question of the night - must have been too much pressure!
The second week of my time with the NZDF was spent visiting various Bases/Camps as CHAP Mason and I travelled down the North Island via the scenic route. We managed to stop in at the Waiouru Military Camp as well as the nearby National Army Museum, followed by a visit to the Linton Army Camp which included a ‘meet and greet’ with the resident Chaplains.
RNZAF Base Ohakea was my next place to live in for a couple of nights and I did a tour of the Base and attended a spouse/dependant’s morning tea that was coordinated by the Defence Community Coordinator. Due to time restraints I was unable to squeeze in a familiarisation flight in one of the retiring Hueys. My hosts, CHAP Ra Koia (Army) and CHAP Murray Thompson (Airforce), were full of knowledge and made my short time at Ohakea very enjoyable.
Last place to temporarily call home was the Trentham Military Camp where CHAP Darren O’Callaghan (Army) and Sian Scannell (Chaplaincy Admin Wellington) were my hosts in the last few days of my secondment. Sian took me on a tour of the Base including a visit to the Youth Development Unit for a couple of training sessions and it was Sian who also enabled me to visit the New Zealand Museum – Te Papa Tongarewa and the Pukeahu National War Memorial prior to my flight home on 01 May 15.
Prior to departing for New Zealand I had gathered a variety of resources from Defence Force Recruiting, DCO, Regional Mental Health, VVCS, and Mates 4 Mates which I managed to distribute to most base Chaplains during my travels and they were very well received. Since returning home I have sent further items of interest to CHAP McPhee at Whenuapai for further distribution.
The whole experience was an amazing opportunity to learn and share the what/when/how and who in relation to Chaplaincy Administration and welfare supports for members both in Australia and New Zealand. I strongly encourage all senior leaders to consider nominating junior NCOs in the Tasman Scheme. Not only is it a wonderful experience but recognises and rewards the outstanding work contributions by Reservists in all three services.
As a thank you (and a reminder of my visit) I presented CHAP McPhee with a plaque prior to leaving Auckland (see photo). I believe it now hangs in the Chaplaincy Centre at RNZAF Auckland.
My family and I are now planning a family holiday to New Zealand in 2016 which will definitely include visits to my now extended Chaplaincy family.
CPL Natalie Eagles (RAAFAR) and CHAP Janie McPhee (NZDF)
The Tasman Scheme is sponsored by the Head of Cadets, Reserve and Employer Support Division in conjunction with the Defence Reserves Association.
The Tasman Scheme aims to promote Reserve service by providing opportunitites for junior non-commissioned officers to undertake training with the New Zealand Defence Force, and to promote interoperability between the Australian Defence Force and the New Zealand Defence Force. The Scheme is conducted in conjunction with the Defence Reserves Association.
Reservists of the rank of Leading Seaman, Lance Corporal or Corporal, regardless of trade or specialisation, may be nominated for the Tasman Scheme provided they meet the eligibilty criteria. The Scheme allows selected Reserve junior non-commissioned officers to be seconded to the New Zealand Defence Force for two weeks.
Details on the Scheme, including eligibility criteria, are contained in MILPERSMAN, Part 8, Chapter 3 - Tasman Scheme, or contact your local Defence Reserves Support office on 1800 803 485.
Nominations for the 2016-17 year will commence in November 2015 for consideration in April 2016.
Click here for Eligiblity, DEFGRAM & Application Form