Legal acumen earns logistics sailor the Conspicuous Service Medal

Published on LEUT Geoff Long (author)

Topic(s): Australia Day Honours, Conspicuous Service Medal

File image of (then) Petty Officer Writer Melita English on board HMAS Darwin, during Exercise KAKADU, September 2012. (photo: )
File image of (then) Petty Officer Writer Melita English on board HMAS Darwin, during Exercise KAKADU, September 2012.

Chief Petty Officer Melita English has an uncommon affinity with the law, often providing the Fleet Senior Leadership Team with advice to help them solve complex legal and personnel administrative issues.

That she has no formal training in the legal field has only added to her accomplishments as the Fleet Legal Assistant.

Chief Petty Officer English credits a prior posting to Fleet Legal in support of the Sea King Board of Inquiry as sparking an interest in legal issues, which has been bolstered with practical experience gained working in several personnel offices.

“I’m very comfortable working with the law, particularly admin law. Fleet Legal has given me a vast knowledge of both criminal and discipline law.

I’ve been very blessed to work with some incredible lawyers who have mentored me and grown my professional knowledge,” Chief Petty Officer English said.

Of the Conspicuous Service Medal, she said she was humbled to be awarded the honour.

“I think that I was just doing my job, but I’m very honoured to be recognised,” she said.

Chief Petty Officer English hails from the far North Queensland village of Malanda and joined the Navy as a fresh-faced 17-year-old in 2001, qualifying as a Maritime Logistics – Personnel sailor.

Within 12 months, she was deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) on board HMAS Melbourne. She has also served on HMA Ships Manoora, Ballarat and Darwin.

She took over as the Fleet Legal Assistant at Fleet Headquarters in 2017 at a time of very high demand for legal services associated with challenges in staffing and resources, as well as changes in the provision of legal advice and services to Commanders and personnel.

According to her bosses at Fleet, Chief Petty Officer English’s exceptional management and professional mastery has seen review times for Fleet Summary Authority Trial and Administrative Law Decisions reduced by over a third.

This reduction in time has meant the link between behaviour and disciplinary action is clearer, providing for a more effective, meaningful and just outcome.

Chief Petty Officer English has toyed with the idea of getting a law degree, but in the meantime she is preparing for new Navy challenges in 2020, including a new position supporting Commander Navy Shore Force.

Formal qualifications or not, she’s likely to bring her legal acumen to any new role.

Chief Petty Officer English’s citation reads:

Chief Petty Officer Melita Leigh ENGLISH, NSW

For meritorious achievement in the performance of duty as the Fleet Legal Assistant.

Chief Petty Officer English has executed her duties as the Fleet Legal Assistant in Fleet Headquarters at a time of significant demand for legal services. She has demonstrated exceptional professional mastery, devotion to duty and inspirational leadership that have been instrumental in reducing disciplinary review times providing Commands and personnel with more effective, meaningful and just outcomes.