The welfare of people at the centre of Navy’s aviation capability was the focus of the recent Fleet Air Arm Safety Stand Down held at HMAS Albatross in Nowra.
The addressing the theme Human Performance and Health and Wellbeing, the program featured a range of speakers from a sleep expert, to an Olympic swimmer, to a road crash trauma expert.
Fleet Air Arm Aviation Safety Officer, Lieutenant Commander William Veale said the theme was chosen as a way to address some of the issues that arose from the Defence Aviation and Air Force Safety annual survey where work life balance and mental health issues were identified as areas of concern.
“The Fleet Air Arm operates at a very high tempo and it is really easy to get caught up in the process of working hard and lose sight of potential insidious safety implications,” he said.
“The Safety Stand Down brings those issues back into our focus and allows us to regroup and do a sanity check on ourselves to ensure we are looking after each other.
“When putting together the program it was important that we found speakers who could not just engage the audience but have sufficient impact to empower them to adjust their lifestyles as required.”
Elite athlete Lisa Curry, Managing Director of Sleep Health at the Children’s Hospital Westmead Dr Carmel Harrington, peak performance coach and author of ‘Bullies, Blamers, Bludgers’, Blythe Rowe, Ryan Cooper and Sarah McMahon from Aviation Safety and Assurance Training and Rod Campbell and Michael Holbrook of the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service all spoke to the assembled Navy members.
Albatross Command Safety Advisor Mr Anthony Kinnear said the audience was spoilt with the standard of speakers this year.
“Each one brought a message from a civilian perspective but each was very relevant to our business,” he said.
“All the speakers were professional, appropriate and well delivered however the firies worked particularly well and their ‘in your face’ presentation had everyone’s full attention and should have left everyone with a greater respect for road safety, both as a vehicle operator, passenger or pedestrian.”
Lieutenant Commander Veale said that feedback had been overwhelmingly positive.
“Many have openly stated it was the best safety day they have attended in any forum, civil or military.
“Each presenter had their enjoyable moments; the smooth power of Dr Harrington; the raw energy of Blythe Rowe and her no nonsense insight into toxic workplaces; Australian sporting royalty of Lisa Curry talking about her life and the mindset it takes to be an elite and the health and nutrition base.”
He agreed that a personal favourite was the Road Safety Program from the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service.
“The presentation that Rod 'Rocket" Campbell and Michael Holbrook gave was outstanding and one that will have a lifelong impact in the audience,” he said.
“To see 900 people deadly quiet and some with tears in their eyes is a testament to the raw power of the presentation.
“I doubt that there will be a single member of the audience who walked away from that presentation without reassessing their driving and roadside awareness habits.”
A successful day may have set a precedent hard to follow with some attendees stating they were not sure how next year could top the impressive lineup.
“I guess that is our challenge for next year to ensure it as exciting and relevant to the audience as this year’s safety day,” Lieutenant Commander Veale said.
Commander of the Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Chris Smallhorn agreed.
“Safety is of paramount importance to not only our individual well being, but also to the resilient and sustained provision of maritime warfare,” he said.
“The team produced a gold standard event designed directly to address some of those issues that our personnel told us were important.
“No one would have left the room without some takeaway gems about our health, fitness, nutrition, how to be elite and of course our daily safe choices – it’s about warfare and all these elements contribute to the assured lethality of our Fleet.”