TEACHING is a great way to play a first hand role in moulding the future generation but for Chantelle Mooney it’s her role in the Army Reserve that’s currently keeping her busy.
30-year-old Chantelle, a teacher at Watsonia Heights Primary School in Greensborough and a member of the Army Reserve for six years is on her first overseas deployment to the Solomon Islands. She is among the ranks of Combined Task Force 635, which is the military contribution to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
She will shortly return home to Australia to Australian shortly as part of the final rotation to Operation ANODE, the Australian Defence Force contribution to RAMSI to be reunited with her partner Brad, who is also in the Army Reserve.
“I’m a Transport Driver and my job responsibilities are to monitor the overall condition of 40 vehicles,” she said.
“That means that as soon as problems are identified with the vehicles, I liaise with the Workshop Mechanics to service and repair the fleet.
“I taught grade 5/6 for the past two years. I miss the students a lot so I’ve sent letters to the school so they know that I am thinking of them.”
“I’ve been missing him a lot so it’s getting harder to be away from him but we’re planning to travel when I get home, which is very exciting for us.”
Chantelle has really enjoyed the chance to get out into the local community and meet the Solomon Islanders to learn about their culture.
“I spoke to a few fishermen and their lifestyle is just so different. Here, the locals are completely dependent on what they grow in their backyard or what they collect on the beaches so that they can sell it at the market for an income.
“The children of the farmers also play an important role in the families’ earnings because they collect the seashells to make into necklaces or catch fish to sell at the markets or harvest vegetables to sell.
“There’s not as much technology or materialism to influence their thinking - it’s merely just work to get enough money to survive and make ends meet at the end of the day.”
A highlight of her trip was getting out to visit the primary school built in memory of Private Jamie Clark who was killed on deployment to Solomon Islands in 2005.
“We went to the school to build a sandpit for the kids. The locals did a beautiful traditional dance for us and I had a look through the school and saw the classrooms.
“It was very different to home. The timetables are the same every day and resources are very limited. It was an eye opening experience to see how kids are taught here.”
Chantelle’s also been given the chance to help out local communities closer to home after joining the Army response to the clean up efforts following the floods and fires that ravaged regional Victorian towns in recent years.
“When the bushfires happened in 2009 we were on a mandatory training weekend and at night we got the call out to go to Flowerdale.
“We stayed there for a couple of days helping out and communicating with the locals that weren’t aware of what was happening.
“For the floods in Swan Hill in 2010, there was a team of us sandbagging all the rivets under the railway tracks so that if the water from the lake overflowed, it would stop and soak up in the sandbags and prevent flooding into the community.”