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11 November 2020
Major Lauriee Arthur (left) met with the Minister for Defence, Senator Linda Reynolds, after her address to the personnel on operations to the Middle East.
Words Simone Worthing
In non-COVID-19 times, Salvation Army Red Shield Defence Services (RSDS) deploy one representative to the Middle East region every four months to support Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.
Major Lauriee Arthur follows in the tradition of the first Salvation Army officer to be deployed to support troops, when Founder William Booth commissioned Adjutant Mary Murray to go to the Boer War and find ways to support soldiers on both sides of the conflict.
Lauriee, who is a senior RSDS representative and team coordinator at Gallipoli Barracks, Brisbane, served ADF personnel at the Middle Eastern base, focusing on providing welfare and wellbeing support to all personnel.
Below, she reflects on some of her experiences during that time.
“My role was exactly the same as I have here at Gallipoli Barracks. The Salvation Army in Australia works predominantly with the Australian Army, and my deployment also included serving Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force personnel – many of whom didn’t know about the ‘Sallyman’ or ‘Sallyma’am’ [as RSDS representatives are often referred to].
“I found that being a female endeared me to other women, especially in the air force. All personnel, though, men and women, were happy to see the Sallyma’am, with a few from the air force and navy asking why they didn’t have one in their service!”
Lauriee’s role in deployment involved providing support to all ADF personnel. “I got to know all of the ADF members, focused on building relationships and then was able to check in on them to see how they were, how they felt about what was happening at the time, and how their loved ones at home were going.
“People came to me to have someone to talk to. They came to me with work problems, family issues, health concerns and I also had an opportunity to share my Christian faith. I supported the base chaplain to run a Bible study and church services too. It was also a pleasure to attend the monthly coalition force church service that the chaplain started while I was there.”
Lauriee, and the other RSDS members who have been deployed on the rotation, assisted the ADF chaplain with a rest and recreation program where personnel were taken to culturally important locations in the host country to increase their understanding of that nation’s people and culture.
“This gave us time to chat with people and get to know them,” shares Lauriee. “The Sallymen also helped welcome newcomers to the base, were part of the base orientation process and farewelled those returning to Australia. I particularly enjoyed Fridays – the mornings with ADF personnel providing refreshments during weapons training, then in the afternoon sharing iced donuts with headquarters staff. The perfect end to a very busy week!
“It was an enriching and challenging experience, I loved it, and would do it again. The biggest challenges were being away from family, and the endless, terrible humidity and heat.”
Resuming her role at Gallipoli Barracks, Lauriee continues to work with Australian Army military personnel and their families.
“I work with both men and women, but as a ‘Sallyma’am’, can work a bit differently to my male colleagues,” says Lauriee. “I work a lot with the wives and partners of the soldiers, especially when their partner is deployed or away for weeks on training exercises. This includes supporting a wife or family until other close relatives can get there in a crisis.”