Engaging communities in a socially distanced world

This article has photo gallery Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author)

Location(s): Ulladulla, NSW

Topic(s): Community Engagement, HMAS Albatross

Students check out the Navy photographic display installed by HMAS Albatross’ Navy Community Engagement Program team at Ulladulla High School for its Careers Week initiative. (photo: )
Students check out the Navy photographic display installed by HMAS Albatross’ Navy Community Engagement Program team at Ulladulla High School for its Careers Week initiative.

The Navy Community Engagement team at HMAS Albatross has been faced with a few challenges in 2020, with the need to innovate new ways to ‘engage’ with the local community while adhering to social distancing conventions.

“We have had to really rethink our approach,” Chief Petty Officer Linda Eddington, the areas Navy Community Engagement Coordinator, said.

“Normally we would be out and about, attending and participating in a wide range of community events throughout the region.

“While we miss that direct interaction, we have brainstormed a few solutions and come up with ideas that can definitely be used for future activities.

“While nothing can replace that direct contact, some of these initiatives can definitely be used to supplement and reinforce our main role, which is to improve local knowledge and understanding of Navy’s role, people, capability and day to day activities,” she said.

High school career days are usually well-attended by the team, who provide students with the opportunity to meet Navy personnel, learn about what they do, and gain an insight into life in the Navy.

They also provide advice to students who are considering joining the Navy, and often inspire students with little to no exposure to the Defence Force to consider its unique and exciting career options.

“When we were invited to participate in Ulladulla Careers Week, we investigated ways to support this activity while still adhering to Defence and New South Wales distancing requirements,” Chief Petty Officer Eddington said.

“In the end, we decided to install a photographic display.

“Ulladulla High School’s Careers Week had the theme ‘It’s never too young to start exploring’, and that is exactly what we wanted to encourage the students to do.

“The Navy Image Specialists do such an amazing job of capturing life in the Navy, so we had a wealth of images to choose from.

“The nine photographs we chose for the display show diverse aspects of Navy life,” she said.

The display will remain at the school until the end of July.

The Navy Community Engagement Team hopes it will capture the attention of many of the school’s 1200 students.

Leading Seaman Kara Knezevic who assisted with the display said it was “a great opportunity for Navy to promote the different job opportunities available.”

“I think engaging with a high school like Ulladulla High School, which is quite coastal but also remote from the big city, shows the future generations that there are lots of different career opportunities available to them,” Leading Seaman Knezevic said.

“We want the students to know that the Navy is not just ships at sea,” Chief Petty Officer Eddington said.

“We have tried to show Navy’s diversity, teamwork and operational images of men and women, through a broad range of images that reflect the Navy today and into the future,” she said.