For Perth-born Training Systems Officer and former secondary school Japanese language teacher, Lieutenant Karen Thomson, delivering speeches at school assemblies and presenting awards to students is almost second nature. So when the opportunity to return to her roots to present two recipients with Australian Defence Force Long Tan Leadership Awards at Leeming Senior High School's Year 12 Valedictory Ceremony and Term 4 Assembly, Lieutenant Thomson did not hesitate to volunteer her time as a guest presenter.
The senior recipient was Logan Wake, a Year 12 student who was recognised for his leadership and teamwork skills, sporting prowess, musical talent and involvement in community fundraising events. The junior recipient was Kailyn Munro, a Year 10 student who, as well as being recognised for her strong leadership and communication skills, was also the recipient of a Certificate of Distinction in French language in a competition recently run by the Alliance Française.
"Both students were fine examples of young people upholding the values of the Australian Defence Force," Lieutenant Thomson said.
"It was an honour to be able to represent the Navy in this capacity, recognise the valuable contribution that young people make to society and encourage the next generation to seriously consider the Australian Defence Force as a fulfilling and lifelong career choice."
In keeping with the leadership and community engagement themes, Lieutenant Thomson was delighted to be asked to spend the afternoon with a class of Year 8 Japanese students and their Japanese teacher; who was also Lieutenant Thomson's Japanese teacher 15 years ago and the person that inspired her to pursue teaching Japanese language as a career.
After a brief じこしょうかい (jikishoukai - self-introduction), Lieutenant Thomson answered many questions about life in the Navy, contributed to friendly inter-service banter between an Air Force Cadet and an Army Cadet and kept score for the あお (ao - blue) team during an active vocabulary game.
The awards started in 2006 to recognise students who demonstrate leadership and teamwork within both the school and the broader local community. At the same time, they recognise those who display strong values, such as doing one's best, respect for others and 'mateship', characteristics that are integral to Australian society.
The awards are an important initiative by the Australian Government in conjunction with the Australian Defence Force designed to encourage senior students - tomorrow's leaders - to actively participate in the life of their schools and local communities. The number of schools participating is over 2,250.
In recognition of one of the defining moments in Australian military history, the awards are a fitting tribute to the Long Tan veterans, as the very traits they demonstrated such as determination, mateship, teamwork, tenacity, compassion and leadership, are the same attributes recognised in students.