Digging gardens, building play equipment and fixing fences reinforced the value of service for Australian Defence Force Academy trainee officers undertaking community work on Exercise Weary Dunlop.

Conducted from October 15-18, more than 300 first- and third-year trainee officers headed to 25 sites across Canberra and the surrounding region. 

Collectively, they completed more than 2000 hours of community service.

Split into small teams, participants spent time at local primary and high schools, charity groups, such as St Vincent de Paul Society, and not-for-profit organisations like the Girl Guides.

Officer in charge of Exercise Weary Dunlop Major Tobias Raimondo said it was important to promote the value of service among the trainee officer cohort.

“Community work such as that done through Exercise Weary Dunlop helps instil in our trainee officers the necessity of putting others before yourself,” Major Raimondo said.

“Over the four days, the trainee officers spent time reflecting on the importance of service, the importance of supporting the local community and demonstrating selflessness of character to place the needs of others ahead of their own.” 

During one activity, at Canberra College, ADFA trainee officers built gardens and constructed play equipment for the College’s CCCares program, which helps more than 150 pregnant and parenting students attain secondary school and trade qualifications.

Exercise Weary Dunlop was conducted in partnership with local community groups and VolunteeringACT.

The CEO of VolunteeringACT Jean Giese thanked ADFA for providing support to local community organisations hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year has been a challenging year for volunteering with more than 70 per cent of organisations in the Canberra region forced to stand down their volunteers due to COVID-19,” Ms Giese said.

“This year’s Exercise Weary Dunlop has delivered thousands of volunteer hours, enabling organisations to undertake critical projects that would not otherwise be possible.”