From Queensland Police Force to Kabul

Published on Department of Defence (author), Unknown (photographer)

Location(s): Kabul, Afghanistan

Leading Seaman Detering in the Middle East (photo: Unkwnown)
Leading Seaman Detering in the Middle East

Providing training in Iraq is a world away from detective work in Queensland, but that was part of Leading Seaman Joanne Detering’s job description after becoming the first Australian Defence Force Investigative Service member to enlist through Navy’s mid-career entry initiative.

A key initiative of the Royal Australian Navy 2012 Naval Police Coxswain Workforce Review, the entry scheme allows for directly recruiting suitably qualified civilian police into the Investigative Service.

Suitably skilled personnel with no previous military experience are employed in positions to directly enhance Defence capability, using civilian specialists in higher than entry-level Navy positions.

A detective in the Queensland Police Service, Leading Seaman Detering’s experience has included roles in the Child and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit (including Taskforce Argos), State Drug Investigation Unit, Organised Crime Investigation Unit (including Armed Robbery/Vehicle and Marine Crime/Casino Crime Unit), and the Petrie Criminal Investigation Branch.
Leading Seaman Detering was looking for a change in career when she saw an advertisement for an Investigator with Navy. She applied and, in 2014, enlisted as a reservist on a continuous full-time service contract.
She was posted to the Joint Investigation Office – Melbourne as an Investigator after completing her initial training at HMAS Creswell.
She was posted to the Middle East on deployment in February, where she said she was involved in numerous investigations and conducted a wide range of training with Australian and coalition colleagues.
“I had opportunities that I wouldn't have had anywhere else,” she said.

“I was transported in various military aircraft because it was the safest and quickest way to get to the locations that I needed to go, which is unlike anything I was exposed work as a civilian police officer."

“And to reflect on it now … what an experience."

“To think it wasn't long ago that I was working as a police officer in Queensland, and the next moment I was getting in and out of helicopters in Afghanistan,” Leading Seaman Detering said.

Leading Seaman Detering said the experience was both rewarding and enjoyable.

“I felt during my deployment overseas that I was welcomed and felt like a part of the wider region family."

“I met great people; they were very supportive of why the Investigative Service was there. I was surprised with the ability to contact home, in relation to the ease, the frequency, and I had minimal connectivity issues. There was no shortage of food, and the accommodation was more than I expected."

“I was also really surprised with the support from the locals, and I bought a few things at markets in Kabul and Bagram.”

Leading Seaman Detering said she travelled to various locations in the region providing training in relation to incident scene initial actions and preservation, sexual assaults and mortuary issues.

“Before I went to the Middle East thought it was going to be a high-stress place to be,” she said.

“It was that, but I found it to be really enjoyable and had a lot of laughs with people I hope to keep in touch with.”

She said there were slow periods, “Then a job comes in and it’s all go, go, go.”

“There were times that I didn’t know what was going to happen or where I was going to be the next day, or even the next hour. But I found that to be a great part of being there; expanding your investigative knowledge on jobs that an Australian Defence Force Investigator wouldn’t encounter in Australia."

“It was a great experience, and I hope to get the opportunity to go to the region again.”

Leading Seaman Detering is considering whether to extend her full-time Reserve service with Navy or enlist permanently.
She is completing a Bachelor of Policing (Investigations) studies with Charles Sturt University.

Navy remains dedicated to professionalising the investigative skill set within the Australian Defence Force Investigative Service.

Defence Force Recruiting continue to identify suitably qualified civilian police detectives for mid-career entry.