By Flight Lieutenant Bel Scott

Six weeks in to Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019 (IPE19), Australian Army physiotherapist Lieutenant Nicola Hribar has treated just under 10 per cent of the 1200-member task group.

Physiotherapists have previously been employed on seagoing exercises, but this is the first time an Army physio has been assigned to IPE.

“This proactive approach to medical treatment ensures our personnel remain deployed and employable.”

Lieutenant Nicola Hribar conducts a consultation with Royal New Zealand Navy sailor Able Seaman Medic Rachel Walton in the medical facility on board HMAS Canberra during Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2019. Photo: Leading Seaman Steven Thomson

Lieutenant Hribar said it’s another way to keep Australian Defence Force personnel fit and able to do their jobs.

“By integrating a physio into the medical team, we are able to provide an additional force preservation and sustainment capability,” Lieutenant Hribar said.

“It’s not just one-on-one patient care. I’ve been involved in a number of multi-disciplinary training seminars and have delivered injury-prevention training to the infantry soldiers and the partner nation forces we are working with in IPE19.

“I’ve also been running sunrise yoga sessions on HMAS Canberra’s flight deck, which focuses on improving members overall wellbeing.

“I’ve really enjoyed the exposure to the various places we’ve visited in East- and South-East Asia while working in a dynamic joint environment.”

Lieutenant Nicola Hribar leads a sunrise yoga class for members of ships company and embarked forces on the flight deck of HMAS Canberra during AUSINDEX 2019. Photo: Leading Seaman Steven Thomson

Canberra’s Medical Officer, Lieutenant Commander Mitchell Parker, described the importance of having a physio for IPE19.

“The maritime environment requires personnel to live and work within a safety-critical environment,” Lieutenant Commander Parker said.

“The nature of the duties performed on board mean personnel require management for acute musculoskeletal problems requiring both chronic and acute injury management at an equivalent level of care they could receive ashore.

“This proactive approach to medical treatment ensures our personnel remain deployed and employable.”

HMA Ships Canberra, Success, Newcastle and Parramatta are currently on the three-month IPE19 deployment.

Running from March to May, IPE19 is geared towards enhancing interoperability with Australia’s key regional partners, including Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia.