As part of ongoing efforts to ensure balance and well-being are part of everyday naval life, the Australian Defence Force Centre of Mental Health based at HMAS Penguin took personnel away from their workplaces for a change of scenery recently.
Serving up some Sydney history with a guided tour of tunnels on the harbour’s Middle Head, the visit was a joint effort through New South Wales Parks and Wildlife.
Commanding Officer HMAS Penguin Commander Ian Campbell, said the tour was fascinating.
“It was a great opportunity to see these amazing tunnels and fortifications which are literally on our doorstep,” Commander Campbell said.
“We have a great relationship with Parks and Wildlife, and it was an excellent opportunity to look at these historical fortifications.”
Once the traditional land of the Borogegal clan, Middle Head has been used by Defence for more than a century. In 1871, the first gun battery was constructed at Middle Head Fort.
The complex is linked by underground tunnels, ancillary rooms, and magazines and there are gun pits and notorious ‘tiger cages’, where soldiers were once trained to resist torture.
“It was incredible to be able to bring together some exercise and the tunnels tour and learn about the hardships and challenges faced by those who served here,” Commander Campbell said.
“It was a bonus was that we got to see ships sail out of the Harbour – a reminder to us all that we need to be fit to fight and win at sea, and mental health is an important part of this.”
Following the tour, Lieutenant Colonel Jacqueline Costello, the officer in charge of the Centre of Mental Health, hosted Penguin’s ship’s company for a presentation about mental health support services available in Defence.
The session focused on the skills required to initiate a conversation about mental health and well being with work colleagues.
“Being able to engage with such a broad cross section of ship’s company and discuss the importance of mental health was a great way to complete the tour,” Lieutenant Colonel Costello said.