Lieutenant Ben Stafford, of 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment, is not only on his first operation but he is helping his hometown.

Originally from Bentleigh, Melbourne, Lieutenant Stafford – who now lives in Brisbane – is supporting the Victorian Government on Operation COVID-19 Assist.  

In his role as the ADF liaison officer to the Colac Incident Management Team, Lieutenant Stafford is establishing a relationship with government partner agencies in Colac and regional Victoria.

“I provide a conduit for the Incident Management Team to access defence planning and general duties support,” Lieutenant Stafford said.

“This allows for the coordination of joint Department of Health and Human Services and V22  – the unit I lead – community engagement patrols.”

The unit consists of 22 soldiers and non-commissioned officers who are tasked with supporting the Department of Health and Human Services with door-knocking and community-engagement activities.  

Lieutenant Stafford said a highlight was working with the team. 

“I’ve enjoyed working with soldiers and non-commissioned officers for the first time as I deployed onto the task at the conclusion of my Regimental Officer Basic Course in Puckapunyal,” Lieutenant Stafford said.

As a new officer in the Army, Lieutenant Stafford’s training has quickly kicked in.

“Establishing our role within Colac was difficult,” Lieutenant Stafford said.

“With the assistance of Sergeant Marc Dare, my Troop Sergeant, we worked out how we could assist the local community and have had people on the ground since.”

Lieutenant Stafford said he was looking forward to going back to Brisbane to be with his partner, Aisha, who serves in the Royal Australian Air Force.  

“I am looking forward to reuniting with my girlfriend after eight months apart,” he said.