Personnel Support Unit keeping people in focus

Published on SBLT Gordon Carr-Gregg (author), POIS Bradley Darvill (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Harman, ACT

Topic(s): HMAS Harman, Health, Fitness and Wellbeing

Officer-in-Charge Personnel Support Unit - ACT Lieutenant Commander Christine Hillam at HMAS Harman. (photo: POIS Bradley Darvill)
Officer-in-Charge Personnel Support Unit - ACT Lieutenant Commander Christine Hillam at HMAS Harman.

For six years, Lieutenant Commander Christine Hillam has provided specialist support to countless Navy members in and around the ACT from an out-of-the way, nondescript office aboard HMAS Harman.

As Officer In Charge Personnel Support Unit (PSU), Lieutenant Commander Hillam, with the help of her team, has been able to make a significant impact in the lives of many Navy members requiring support for complex medical, administrative and personal issues beyond what is available through the divisional chain.

HMAS Harman Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Katey D’Costa, is appreciative of the provision of specialist support from the PSU to Navy’s greatest resource - its people.

“Lieutenant Commander Hillam has been of great value to the Canberra Navy community, she approaches every person as an individual and with a great deal of empathy for their varied situations,” Lieutenant Commander D’Costa said.

“She has used her 27 years of experience in Navy to maximize the support that can be provided to these members. In everything the PSU team does, they ensure our members are engaged and supported throughout what some have described as the most challenging time of their career.”

“Lieutenant Commander Hillam and her team are always a pleasure to work with and has been an amazing help to so many Navy people in their time of need. And in doing so, they have positively impacted the broader Navy family,” she said.

Midshipman Brandon Nelson has received ongoing support and mentoring from PSU this year.

“The team at PSU were a great help to me when I found myself outside of my training and career continuum because of an injury,” Midshipman Nelson said.

“They really have gone above and beyond what I expected. They were able to tee up meaningful work for me during my recovery,” he said.

PSU staff must undergo pre-employment assessment because their duties often involve helping individuals in extreme stress or who have complex issues.

“The most challenging aspect of our work has been changing the perception people have of what we do, removing the stigma of rehabilitation so that people can engage with our expertise and advice,” Lieutenant Commander Hillam said.

“Getting out to talk to people and networking with those who are away from their normal workplace for extended periods, through long term schooling, maternity or rehabilitation can keep them engaged with Navy and in a military mindset.”

“The most rewarding part is seeing members whom we support successfully navigate all the things that they have to do in order to move forward, be it either on a return to work pathway or transition from Defence.”

“We help them feel ok when they get to the other side and they often come back to us with thanks,” she said.

The PSU was established in 2012 under the direction of Chief of Navy.