HAVING graduated from Royal Military College-Duntroon (RMC-D) on June 25, Lieutenant Vanessa Farrell has joined her two sisters by becoming an officer and her first posting will be to the ship that steered her career change.
Her younger sister, Captain Louise Farrell, is posted to 1 Aviation Regiment in Darwin. Their older sister, Captain Joanna Farrell, who is posted to Army School of Transport – Maritime Wing, said: “To be honest, I think Vanessa just felt left out.”
Lieutenant Vanessa Farrell was an accountant when Joanna invited her on a family sailing trip from Townsville to Sydney on HMAS Canberra, where she was posted as the Troop Commander in the amphibious department.
“I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing, so Joanna convinced me to look at my options in the ADF,” Vanessa said.
During the sailing trip, Vanessa spent five days immersed in ship-life, seeing the work that Joanna did and talking to other ADF members on board about their roles.
After her time in Canberra, Vanessa made the difficult decision to give up her career.
“I had a long conversation with Joanna – about how everyone on board was so happy, and how I hated my accounting job – and then the next week I went to DFR [Defence Force Recruitment],” she said.
Joanna also intended to become an accountant but instead joined the Army, paving the way for her sisters.
Joanna joined the reserves while studying, intending to become a pay clerk to complement her accounting degree. She was offered a role as an operation mover and enjoyed the role so much she transferred to the Australian Regular Army two years later.
The following year, Joanna was accepted to RMC-D – the same year her youngest sister, Louise, was finishing school and looking at options for university.
“I was really enjoying my time in Army and I’d heard about the Defence university sponsorship program. I thought this would be a good option for my sister Louise to consider,” Joanna said.
Louise received a scholarship from QUT to study her first year of engineering and maintained good grades, which in turn qualified her for Defence funding for the remainder of her degree.
She commissioned as a Specialist Service Officer in 2016, having completed a Bachelor of Mechatronic Engineering under the university sponsorship program.
“I always wanted to do engineering and Joanna opened my thinking to realise I could do that in the Army. So really, she started it,” Louise said.
Now an aviation engineering officer specialising in the ARH Tiger, Louise was selected to be an Army-funded member of Women in Aviation.
“Army has given us a lot of great travel and education opportunities. By the time Vanessa came around to joining, our parents thought it was a smart career move,” Joanna said.
Vanessa said her officer training boosted her confidence.
“Everything I’ve done there has built my character and my ability to do things I thought I wasn’t great at,” Vanessa said.
Vanessa’s family proudly watched her graduate, ahead of her first posting as the Troop Commander in the amphibious department – the same position Joanna held in Canberra on their family sailing trip.