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 Western Australia.
Soldiers from the Australian Army’s 13 Brigade were deployed to Manjimup to establish temporary accommodation for fire-fighters and possible evacuees from the surrounding area that were threatened by the fire danger.
Corporal James Black, from Morley, from the 13 Combat Support Service Battalion maintenance workshops at Karrakatta Barracks, was one of the soldiers deployed.
The former John Forrest Senior High School student in Morley had only just started his role at 13th Brigade before being called up to assist with supporting the fire fighting effort in the South West region of WA.
“I grew up in Perth before being posted interstate with the Army, and having spent a lot of my down time in the Northcliffe region, I feel proud to be able to provide support to a community that I've spent some time with in the past,” James said.
“Being able to support the fire-fighters, who are doing a fantastic job fighting the fires in the area, ensuring they have a place to rest and unwind after doing the work that they are doing, it’s a rewarding experience, I feel I am making a difference.”
The veteran of four overseas deployments to East Timor and Afghanistan, James is relishing his role at 13th Brigade in Perth.
“I enjoy working with Reservists,” he said.
“You get exposure to a wider range of work and personal experiences, they bring their civilian skills to their work.”
Corporal Black credits a trip to the Perth Royal Show as a boy with his choice of a military career.
“I remember going to the Perth Royal Show and getting an Army show-bag when I was eight years old, I absolutely loved it,” he said.
“So it was basically a dream from childhood to join, everything just fell into place and I've been able to have a really successful career in the military.
“I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.
“I have a very supportive partner, she's seen me go away, she's always stuck by me.
“It's great having someone to help look after the day-to-day things when your away, I'm so thankful that she can do that for me.”
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.