Four federal Members of Parliament recently received an insight into the hidden life of submariners as part of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Parliamentary Program.

Dr Anne Aly, (Member for Cowan, WA) Mr Julian Simmonds, (Member for Ryan, QLD), Victorian Senator Raff Ciccone and NSW Senator Hollie Hughes had two nights at sea on Navy’s Collins-class submarines, followed by tours of the advanced simulators that prepare our submariners for sea.

The Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program was established in 2001 to provide parliamentarians, without previous direct military experience, a practical experience of ADF personnel and capabilities, in order to facilitate a well-informed national conversation about Defence issues and expenditure.  

The program is co-sponsored by the Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester and the Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Vice Admiral David Johnston.

The ADF Parliamentary Program is open to all elected federal members of parliament and receives bipartisan support with up to 40 parliamentarians nominating to participate in a range of activities throughout the year. Activities range from base/ship visits, exercises and operations. 

Minister Chester said the program allowed Members of Parliament to gain experience and appreciation for our ADF personnel and the work they do.

“The program gives members a chance to gain an insight into what our ADF personnel do on a day to day basis,” Mr Chester said.

“It is also a chance for our ADF personnel to learn more about the roles of parliamentarians and the workings of the Australian Parliament.

“To immerse the participants in the experience, parliamentarians are provided with appropriate military clothing with a unique ADF Parliamentary Program epaulette and cap to identify them clearly as participants.”

“They also work and live alongside the crew, being afforded the opportunity to experience a range of accommodations and messing throughout the week”. 

For Dr Aly, this was her first experience with the program and said she appreciated the window into service life.

“Taking part in the Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program was an invaluable chance to see first-hand the work of our ADF personnel, and I encourage all my fellow parliamentarians to take part in the future,” Dr Aly said.

“My visit to HMAS Stirling and time on a Collins-class submarine has been a highlight of my year. I’m extremely grateful to the officers and crew who made my time on board memorable and unique.”