The AustralianGovernment has recently responded to a request from the Western Australiangovernment for the provision of Defence support to bushfire fighting efforts inthe South West of WA.
Soldiers from theAustralian Army’s 13 Brigade were mobilised to Manjimup to establish temporaryaccommodation for fire-fighters and possible evacuees from the surrounding areathat were threatened by the fire danger.
PrivateMorag McGregor, formerly from Northam, is a driver with the 10 TransportCompany at Karrakatta Barracks in Perth and was one of the soldiers deployed.
“As avolunteer fire-fighter myself, this is an amazing thing we are doing,” shesaid.
“When you'vebeen on the frontline fighting the fire for twelve hours you may not of had thechance to even have a break during that time.
“You'retired, you smell of bushfire smoke, you're hot and sweaty, and you don't wantto be thinking about looking after yourself, so being able to just come into anarea where they can literally lay down on a bed and go to sleep is going to beamazing for them.”
The25-year-old former Northam Senior High School student has been an Army Reservistfor eight years.
“Growing upin Northam, I wasn't sporty so I joined the Army Cadets,” Morag said.
“I told myfriends one day that I was going to join the Army and they laughed at me, theysaid ‘no you won't’.
“I finishedschool and said ‘You know what, I’ll join to prove to myself that I can do it’.
“I wanted togo full time, but my parents weren't quite sure, so I thought I'd get a tastethrough Army Reserve.
“Eight yearson, I’m still enjoying it.”
Morag’sfamily had their hesitations, but are proud of what she’s achieved in the ArmyReserves including being deployed on Exercise Swift Eagle in 2008, deploying tothe Solomon Islands in 2012 and now assisting in the fight against bushfires insouth west WA.
“I have twoolder sisters, the eldest still can't believe I'm in the Army, but all myfamily are really supportive and proud of the role and work that I do inuniform,” she said.
“They haveeven messaged me while I've been in the fire region, telling me how proud theyare of what I am doing.
Being aReservist means sometimes Morag has to be away from her civilian job, whichrequires the positive support of her employer.
“My civilianemployer is very supportive of my role in the Reserves,” she said.
“My currentboss is really understanding, I rang him when I was advised of our task tosupport the fire-fighting effort and instantly he said ‘No worries’.
“It isfantastic that they allow me to provide my service to the community as a Reservist.
“I do salessupport for a fresh fruit and vegetable company. My day job is a lot of officework behind the desk, so I really enjoy getting out and getting my hands dirty.
“90% of myfriends these days are in the military, so they are like my second family,they'll do anything to help out. You get experiences you'd never get incivvie-street; it's a whole different world.”
Approximately 40 Armysoldiers from the Brigade’s Irwin Barracks at Karrakatta travelled in 10trucks to transport and construct the tent accommodation in the township of Manjimup.
The soldiers erected 20tents and camp stretchers and provided tables, chairs and lighting to supportup to 200 temporary occupants.