The Australian Government has recently responded to a request from the Western Australian government for the provision of Defence support to bushfire fighting efforts in the South West of WA.
Soldiers from the Australian Army’s 13 Brigade were mobilised to Manjimup to establish temporary accommodation for interstate fire-fighters and possible evacuees from the surrounding area that were threatened by the fire.
Private Lauren Berryman, from Greenwood, is a driver with 10 Transport Company and was one of the soldiers deployed.
“This is the first major activity I've done as a Reservist,” she said.
“I only enlisted in December 2014, I'm pretty new compared to everyone else here at the Battalion, but we’ve done what we can to support the fire fighting efforts.”
The soldiers’ military training paid off handsomely on the day, with the Diggers building a tent city within hours of their arrival at the vacant site to ensure the interstate fire-fighters had a place to stay as soon as they arrived.
“We've done the best that we can getting the 'tent city' organised, and if we are needed again to support the community during a situation like this, I'd really like to be involved again,” Private Berryman said.
The former Vale Senior High School and St Stevens School student said she always wanted to join the Army, even from a very young age.
“I guess joining the Army Reserve was something I always wanted to do, as a kid I was not really into the normal girly stuff, so joining the Army has always been a dream of mine,” Lauren said.
“My friends are always asking and really want to know what I've been up to.
“They don't really believe me when I tell them I drive trucks for the Army, but they are always intrigued by what I do.
“Being a Reservist is challenging, especially through the recruitment phase, but if you stick it out, there are many rewards at the end.”
Approximately 40 Army soldiers from the Brigade’s Irwin Barracks at Karrakatta travelled in 10 trucks to transport and construct the tent accommodation in the township of Manjimup.
The soldiers erected 20 tents and camp stretchers and provided tables, chairs and lighting to support up to 200 temporary occupants.