A year of opportunity

Published on SBLT Katherine Mulheron (author), LSIS Nina Fogliani (photographer)

Topic(s): Defence Force Recruiting, Navy Gap Year

Recruit Matthew Masiero is one of the Gap Year Recruits in Rogers Division undertaking his initial sailor training at Royal Australian Navy Recruit School at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria. (photo: LSIS Nina Fogliani)
Recruit Matthew Masiero is one of the Gap Year Recruits in Rogers Division undertaking his initial sailor training at Royal Australian Navy Recruit School at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria.

Taking a gap year is often a popular way to take time out from study or work with a chance to rest, travel, volunteer abroad or decide a future career path. For Recruit Matthew Masiero of Morwell, Victoria, joining the Navy under the Gap Year program fit all of those needs - except resting.

Joining the Navy as a medical sailor has been an aspiration for the 18 year old for many years. When the Navy Gap Year program was re-introduced this year he jumped at the chance to apply.

In 2016 more than 430 young Australians are participating in the Australian Defence Force Gap Year Program, experiencing life in the Navy, Army or Air Force.

The program attracts a diverse group of young people from different cultures and backgrounds, with more than 40 percent of applicants for the 2016 program female.

With a keen interest in sports and his community, the last few years have seen Recruit Masiero coaching gymnastics, volunteering as a surf life-saver with the Sea Spray Surf Live Saving Club and being a member of the 426 Squadron Air Force Cadets on top of his high school studies.

He believes those pursuits have shaped what he wants to achieve in life and that joining the Navy is the way to do it.

“I got involved in surf life saving for the life experience and a chance to give back to the community in a meaningful way," he said.

“Being part of community and sports groups grounds you, you get to know the people you’re living with.

“I think the work and lifestyle with Navy will give me the chance to keep doing that; to keep being active and helping the community but in different way.”

Recruit Masiero said his family and friends are proud he joined up and after just seven weeks of training he is already keen to sign on for a long term career.

“My first weekend leave I saw family and friends, shared what I’ve been doing during training, did some fun sports with my dad, brothers and friends, and I caught up on sleep.

“Navy training has been a great experience so far; the chance to move on from my old lifestyle of school, gymnastics, cadets, and starting a new phase in life - it’s really exciting.”

Leading Seaman Kristy Clark participated in the Navy Program in 2009 and went on to join the Permanent Navy. She is currently an instructor at HMAS Cerberus, training the latest Gap Year intake.

“I was fortunate enough to join the Navy Gap Year Program. This was a life changing experience that offered me insight into each of the jobs within Navy, both at sea and ashore.

“It gave me an appreciation for the core roles within Navy and opened my eyes to see that without each person doing their job correctly, the Navy couldn’t function as a team,” she said.

Assistant Minister for Defence, Michael McCormack officially launched the 2017 Australian Defence Force Gap Year Program at the Melbourne Australian Defence Force Careers Expo on 4 March attended by students from more than 70 schools and universities across Victoria.

“The Gap Year Program offers young Australians a great adventure from which they can benefit personally and professionally,” Mr McCormack said.

“The Year 12 graduates who complete this Program gain valuable training and life-skills. Throughout their year they learn about teamwork and professionalism. They work hard and adapt to new situations and build resilience.

“The leadership skills they develop can take them anywhere. But, in past years, after experiencing service life about 80 percent of participants chose to remain in either the Reserve or Permanent Australian Defence Force workforce,” he said.

The Navy Gap Year program offers Year 12 school leavers the opportunity to undertake standard recruit and seamanship training, work in shore establishments around the country alongside a broad range of specialist sailors, as well as going to sea to experience the lifestyle and commitment of sailors aboard a Navy vessel. On completion, participants can transfer to Reserve or take up permanent service in the Australian Defence Force or move onto other careers outside of Defence confident in themselves and their leadership skills.

Defence Force Recruiting is currently looking for another 495 people to take up the Gap Year opportunity in 2017.