People sleeping rough to benefit from Canberra's long deployment

Published on LEUT Anthony Martin (author), ABIS Leo Baumgartner (photographer)

Topic(s): Charities, Fundraising & Community, HMAS Canberra (L02)

Chief Petty Officer Maritime Logistics - Chef James Elliott with his collection of donated sanitary products onboard HMAS Canberra during Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 2019. (photo: ABIS Leo Baumgartner)
Chief Petty Officer Maritime Logistics - Chef James Elliott with his collection of donated sanitary products onboard HMAS Canberra during Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 2019.

Some people walk past homeless people in the streets, barely giving them a second thought or at best offering a few coins. But not Chief Petty Officer James Elliott.

The Maritime Logistics Chef posted to HMAS Canberra wanted to do more about this important social issue.

“I’ve always been passionate in assisting the community where possible.

“On previous ships I’ve engaged and encouraged my chefs to provide assistance to the homeless in one way or another,” Chief Petty Officer Elliott said.

Chief Petty Officer Maritime Logistics - Chef James Elliott on the flight deck onboard HMAS Canberra during Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 2019.

Chief Petty Officer Maritime Logistics - Chef James Elliott on the flight deck onboard HMAS Canberra during Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 2019.

A while ago, Chief Petty Officer Elliott met a lady who travelled frequently for business and collected all the complimentary soaps from her hotel rooms to gift to people in homeless shelters in the Sydney area.

Meeting the lady planted a seed in his mind and he came up with an idea to provide hygiene and cleaning products to homeless members of the community.

When HMAS Canberra was preparing to deploy for INDO-PACIFIC ENDEAVOUR, the SEA SERIES of exercises and Exercise TALISMAN SABRE earlier this year, an opportunity presented itself. 

The Senior Sailor realised there would be an average of 750 personnel on-board the Navy’s Flag Ship for a period of around six months.

The ship’s company of Canberra would visit seven countries, and make domestic port visits to Townsville and Cairns, with many personnel taking opportunities for respite by paying to stay in hotels ashore.

Chief Petty Officer Elliott saw the next six months as an opportunity to help people.

“I thought I could adapt the idea of that single traveller and magnify it by the 750 tri-service personnel on board.

“We collected all the complimentary hotel soaps, tooth brushes and shavers we could throughout the course of the trip to provide assistance to the local community in and around the Woolloomooloo area,” he said.

The crew of HMAS Canberra banded together in a common cause and collected hundreds of soaps, shampoos, conditioners, combs, shavers and tooth brushes.

“Seeing personnel donating their products was humbling and made me proud of the people I am serving with,” Chief Petty Officer Elliott said.

Now that he has returned from the six month deployment, Chief Elliott is looking forward to sharing the hoard of products with those in need.