What do an Urdu-speaking investment banker and an ability linker have in common?
They’re both 5th Brigade Reservists and are working together as a mini-support unit for a mobile Services Australia (formerly the Department of Human Services) Centrelink team in the Snowy Mountains area.
Private Aaron Clarke, a driver from the 3rd Transport Squadron, and Private Syed Mairoj Hussainy, a logistician from the Logistics Company of the 5th Combat Services Support Battalion, are attached to a mobile Services Australia disaster assistance team.
They accompany the team into towns and villages affected by bushfires and set up Services Australia point-of-presence (POP) communication systems, which provide secure internet for the Services Australia computers.
On January 21, Privates Clarke and Hussainy were at Batlow town hall, following stays in Batemans Bay, Tooma, Tumbarumba and Adelong in southern New South Wales and Corryong in northern Victoria.
Private Clarke said they went with Services Australia to wherever the service was needed.
“After we set up the POP machine, we undertake community engagement by walking around town and talking to people who may need Services Australia disaster assistance,” Private Clarke said.
“In my civilian job I’m an ability linker with Settlement Services International, helping disadvantaged people, and that’s why I was given this job to support Services Australia.”
“The feedback we’ve received from locals about the Army presence is all very positive.”
Private Hussainy, an investment banker with NAB, said it was amazing to be given the opportunity to help people affected by the bushfires.
“My employer is very supportive of my Army call-out and is happy for me to stay until the crisis is over,” Private Hussainy said.
“The feedback we’ve received from locals about the Army presence is all very positive.
“I recently had to interpret for some Indian people who didn’t understand what they were being told about drinking contaminated water.”
Kath Kent, from Maitland, is a Services Australia social work support manager and said the support her team had received from Privates Clarke and Hussainy was “fabulous”.
“They’re doing a lot of leg work for us, getting out telling everyone we’re here,” Ms Kent said.
“We want to be able to pay people that $1000 disaster relief payment and Aaron and Mairoj have been engaging with the community to help us with that.
“And they set up our equipment each morning as well – it’s really good to have their support.”