Gap Year personnel find their bearings in the West

This article has photo gallery Published on ABETSM Lincoln Commane (author), LSIS Ronnie Baltoft (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Stirling, WA

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

Royal Australian Navy Gap Year sailor Seaman Samantha Lindsay with a pair of torpedo tubes in the weapons engineering workshop at Fleet Support Unit - West at Fleet Base West, WA. (photo: LSIS Ronnie Baltoft)
Royal Australian Navy Gap Year sailor Seaman Samantha Lindsay with a pair of torpedo tubes in the weapons engineering workshop at Fleet Support Unit - West at Fleet Base West, WA.

Since the beginning of 2020, HMAS Stirling has hosted 16 personnel from the Navy Gap Year Program, as they try their hand at a career in the Royal Australian Navy.

The Gap Year program, often referred to as a “try before you buy” initiative, allows young Australians between the ages of 18-24 years a 12-month taste of service life before they commit longer term.

This gives young people who are interested in joining one of the services a chance to experience the different categories and primary qualifications that the Australian Defence Force has to offer.

Petty Officer Maritime Logistics - Chef Christopher Sommers is Stirling’s Gap Year Coordinator and is responsible for work placement, administration duties and welfare for the program’s officers and sailors.

Petty Officer Sommers said he fills a role in the Gap Year Program similar to that of a Divisional Officer.

“Essentially, my role is to ensure Gap Year personnel are given a diverse and rewarding experience during their posting,” he said.

“Participants can go to any workplace that has a position for them and we’ll try and find them a place in line with their first job preference.”

Petty Officer Sommers said participants nominate three work areas that are in line with the job that they want to do

Midshipman Felder, from the Melbourne suburb of Bentleigh, is currently working in the Maritime Logistics section at Clearance Dive Team Four.

“The Gap Year Program is really interesting and I would recommend it to anyone that is looking at joining the Navy but can’t decide on a specialisation,” Midshipman Felder said.

Participants are currently loan-posted to a variety of units at HMAS Stirling and Fleet Base West, including With the Adventure Training Unit, the Stirling Museum, Joint Logistics Unit - West and various ships and submarines.

Seaman Gap Year Samantha Lindsay joined the program after Defence Force Recruiting visited her school in Atherton, Queensland sparking her interest in joining the Navy.

Since being posted to Western Australia Seaman Lindsay said she had enjoyed her work at Fleet Support Unit - West and other more adventurous experiences.

“Western Australia is gorgeous and there are a lot of camping and four-wheel driving opportunities to explore,” Seaman Lindsay said.

The Gap Year Program has been implemented in the Navy since 28 April 2014 and has paved the way for hundreds of young Australians that want to be part of navy’s highly skilled and technologically advanced team.

Former Gap Year participant, and recently promoted Sub Lieutenant Sharni Hill has been working at Joint Logistics Unit - West for the past few weeks.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here, I am very involved in the day-to-day operations and I feel like I have a new family away from home,” Sub Lieutenant Hill said.

For more information on the ADF Gap Year Program go to:
https://navy.defencejobs.gov.au/students-and-education/gap-year.