For the second time this year, Army Reservist, Corporal James Sutherland of the 1/19 Royal New South Wales (RNSWR) Regiment is back in  Canberra from Orange, NSW, to support his nation in a domestic operation. 

A leading hand by day at Hanson East Guyong Quarry, Corporal Sutherland is a section commander as part of the Defence Forces’ Operation COVID-19 Assist.

Corporal Sutherland is managing a team of reservists whose tasks include assisting ACT Health with contact tracing to understand COVID-19’s spread.

“I’m part of a group that assist’s the civil community with monitoring personnel who have come into contact with anyone who has tested positive to the coronavirus,” Corporal Sutherland said. 

“I ensure my team of eight maintain health standards and are ready to deploy on 24-hour notice tasks to aid the community.”

Corporal Sutherland has been a reservist for seven years after serving full time with the regular Army’s 1RAR.

Over the past 12 months, he has served in Iraq as a section commander on the Quick Reaction Force and in Canberra for Operation Bushfire Assist.

“My wife jokes that I’ve been home for only two-and-a-half of the last 12 months,” Corporal Sutherland said. 

He believes his military experience has set him up for civilian work.

“The key to both has been the ability to manage people, expectations and personalities. Though in the civilian world, there are a lot of different personalities compared to the similar traits many serving members have,” Corporal Sutherland said. 

“From my time in the Army, I’m used to helping and being in a leadership role. I find that if you lead by example, others will follow what you do, which is important for the job that I’m in.”

Officer Commanding of 1/19 RNSWR Major Mark Whitfeld is full of praise for Corporal Sutherland and applauds the backing provided to reservists by their employers and families.

“As an officer commanding, I’m grateful for the support of employers like Hanson because we could not do this seamlessly without them. For our soldiers to perform their reservist duties knowing that they have the hearts and minds of their workplace behind them, makes a world of difference. The same goes for support from families,” Major Whitfeld said.

Corporal Sutherland is grateful for the support of his wife and children also. 

“I’d like to thank my wife, Miriam and kids. Miriam has given me up to the military for nearly 12 months and I can’t thank her enough. She gives me support and runs the house like nothing is different, which allows me to focus on the task at hand.”