Getting work-life balance right at the hub of Navy aviation

This article has photo gallery Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author), CPOIS Cameron Martin (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Albatross, NSW

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

L-R: Commanding Officer HMAS Albatross, Captain Fiona Sneath; Able Seaman Aviation Technician Avionics Braedon McGuinness; Leading Seaman Aviation Technician Aircraft Kyle McPherson; and Executive Officer HMAS Albatross Commander David Hutchinson at the opening ceremony of the Sea Monkey Garage. (photo: CPOIS Cameron Martin)
L-R: Commanding Officer HMAS Albatross, Captain Fiona Sneath; Able Seaman Aviation Technician Avionics Braedon McGuinness; Leading Seaman Aviation Technician Aircraft Kyle McPherson; and Executive Officer HMAS Albatross Commander David Hutchinson at the opening ceremony of the Sea Monkey Garage.

Two exciting new work-life balance initiatives have recently been launched at HMAS Albatross.

The Sea Monkey Garage and the Chief Petty Officer Kane Vandenberg Memorial Mountain Bike and Running Trail are already proving popular with members posted to the Navy’s aviation base.

Able Seaman Avionics Technician Braeden McGuiness said The Sea Monkey Garage was “a space where members of the Albatross community could engage in constructive hobbies with friends.”

“It’s a place where they can exercise and improve their technical knowledge and hand-skills outside of work, and have access to the appropriate tools and equipment to do so.

“When looking around for the right place, I saw the potential of the old service station on base, and realised what an asset the space could be for people posted to Albatross if it was utilised in the right way.

Able Seaman McGuiness put together a proposal of how the building could be used to benefit members on the base.

He then pitched his idea at the Fleet Air Arm Shark Tank innovation forum.

“It received a lot of support and I was given the go-ahead to implement the idea.

“Then, when Commander Shore Force, Captain Stephen Bowater, visited earlier this year, I showed him the facility and outlined my ideas for it.

“He consequently made a welfare grant of $5000 for us to purchase the equipment we needed to make it a reality.

“This really kicked things into gear for us and sped up what would have otherwise been a very slow process,” Able Seaman McGuiness said.

He said that while the workshop has been set-up to primarily focus on automotive projects, he’d like to see people interested in all kinds of hobbies using the facility and equipment constructively.

“It’s intended to be an inclusive space where people of all levels of rank, skill, knowledge and experience can come together to learn, share, and enjoy their interests on common ground,” he said.

The Mountain Bike and Running Trail is named in memory of Chief Petty Officer Kane Vandenberg, who lost his life in an accident whilst conducting the Australian Defence Cycling Challenge at Stromlo Forest Park in 2013.

The opening was attended by many of the late Chief Petty Officer Vandenberg’s colleagues, from the aviation community and local area, as well as by his wife Margaret, who was invited to cut the ribbon to officially open the trail. 

The trail was built entirely through volunteer labour, mainly by members of the mountain bike club, with some funds and equipment from the Estate & Infrastructure Group, the Albatross Welfare Fund and Headquarters Fleet Air Arm.

Made up of three loops, with a combined distance of 7.5 kilometres, the trail has five bridges and three technical structures.

It runs along the extensive buffer zone adjacent to HMAS Albatross, winding into the dense bushland on the Currambene Creek, and is suitable for all skill and fitness levels. 

Albatross’ Commanding Officer, Caption Fiona Sneath, said both projects were inspiring examples of the community spirit at work at the establishment.

“They’re fantastic resources, providing important opportunities for people to get together outside work times, to pursue their interests and passions, whether it’s working on projects or cycling, and having a great time doing it.

“I hope they both flourish,” she said.

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Gallery: https://images.navy.gov.au/S20193048.