Life-changing decisions

Published on SQNLDR Lindsay Paterson (author), CPL Oliver Carter (photographer)

Location(s): Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

Royal Australian Navy sailor Able Seaman boatswains mate Peter Bride (left) rehearses his lines during the Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills program. (photo: CPL Oliver Carter)
Royal Australian Navy sailor Able Seaman boatswains mate Peter Bride (left) rehearses his lines during the Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills program.

Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Peter Bride has made some life-changing decisions in his life which have included joining the Navy in 2011 and more recently to be part of an innovative arts program conducted by the Australian Defence Force and held at the University of Canberra.

He was born and raised in Pascoe Vale and began his working life as a carpenter there. He met his wife Michelle in his home town and has extended family still a part of the Pascoe Vale community so he is still a regular visitor to the town.

During his period as a carpenter he realised he wanted to do something to make his old man proud and to be someone his nieces could look up to. He has some relatives in the service and thought the Navy would be the way to go. Once he made that decision he worked hard to be able to meet the standard to get in and he hasn’t looked back since. 

“I joined the Navy as a Boatswains Mate in 2011 and really enjoy my work with various types of weapons,” Able Seaman Bride said.

Like other Defence Force personnel, Able Seaman Bride has been involved in many operational activities and some of these have taken their toll on him. With the support of the Australian Defence Force though, he feels he is doing everything he can to continue serving.

Royal Australian Navy sailor Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Peter Bride practices his role in a play during the Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills program.

Royal Australian Navy sailor Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Peter Bride practices his role in a play during the Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills program.

Ready for another challenge, Able Seaman Bride was shown information about the Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills program so it didn’t take him long to take the plunge and nominate himself.  

Launched at the beginning of May, the program aims to improve confidence, well-being and resilience by demonstrating to participants that they are capable of learning new skills and able to adapt to different environments.

As part of the program participants are encouraged to learn a new set of skills in an unthreatening and fun environment.  Experts in four artistic streams offer skill training that is non-competitive, supportive and adapted to individual needs. Participants gain a sense of accomplishment and grow in confidence as they achieve, and sometimes exceed, both personal and group goals.  The other potential benefit to participants is an improved ability to communicate with their families, their mates and the community. 

“There were four streams to choose from and I chose the drama stream even though this was way outside my comfort zone,” Able Seaman Bride said.

Able Seaman Bride had no prior experience in the arts so choosing to do drama from the four streams on offer (music, visual arts, music and drama) was another example of a brave decision.

"During the four weeks we had great fun and laughed so much. It felt good to be with people going through similar issues as I am.” 

Able Seaman Bride said the program definitely delivered on its promises and he is really happy he plucked up the courage to take part in it.

“The program was all that I could have hoped it would be. All the participants were looking for something different to do to assist in their recovery – so the group really connected. Great bonds were made within days and I can’t believe how much fun I had. As well as new life skills, I have made life-long friends,” Able Seaman Bride said.

“While at sea the crew becomes your second family and helps you get through the rough times and that’s exactly what I found with the program.”

Able Seaman Bride has always had the support of his family and wife and credits Michelle with much of his progress.

“Michelle has supported me through thick and thin and I don’t think I would be where I am now without her support. I really appreciate what she has done for me.”