Community engagement looks different now for some members of the RAN Band Melbourne, as they trade instruments for personal protective equipment.
They are deployed on Operation COVID-19 Assist helping Victoria Police at vehicle control points around the state.
Petty Officer Musician Chris Palamountain said he was enjoying the deployment.
“The police have been fantastic, they have been nothing but friendly, supportive and welcoming,” Petty Officer Palamountain said.
“It has been interesting chatting with officers and getting to know them, as well as learning the similarities and differences between the ADF and Victoria Police.”
Both RAN Band Sydney and Melbourne deployed about 60 per cent of their members on the operation.
Under the direction of police, Navy members are checking people leaving metropolitan Melbourne.
The musicians are deployed with many other members of the ADF.
“Our forward operating base is triservice. Staff from all three services are working together to co-ordinate members on the ground,” Petty Officer Palamountain said.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of this deployment is meeting, leading and working with personnel from other parts of Navy and the ADF.
It has been interesting chatting with officers and getting to know them, as well as learning the similarities and differences between the ADF and Victoria Police.
“I am team leader of a group of five personnel, none of whom I have met before.”
Petty Officer Palamountain said everyone adapted quickly.
“I have been impressed with how readily the team has learned this job and with their positive attitude to the task,” he said.
“They have all been highly professional and we are developing a great team spirit and camaraderie.”
Saxophonist Petty Officer Palamountain joined the RAN in 1998 and regularly composes music the Navy Band performs around the country.
Petty Officer Palamountain’s last operational deployment in 2003 was in HMAS Kanimbla as part of Operation Slipper and Operation Falconer.
While domestic operations like this are less common, members of the band are proud to contribute.
“It means a great deal to me as an RAN musician to be helping on Operation COVID-19 Assist,” Petty Officer Palamountain said.
“It reinforces our role within Navy being called on to conduct these duties.
“To be able to contribute with the efforts of stopping the spread of COVID-19 has been a rewarding experience.”