For Private Michelle Lingham, Army Reserve medic, the tropical environment of the Solomon Islands is a world away from her civilian occupation as a migration lawyer on the Gold Coast. However, after nearly four months on deployment, Michelle received a visit from her boss, who also happens to be her father, John Lingham, before Christmas.
Migration manager, John Lingham — who works with his daughter in the Gold Coast-based practice of Arcuri Lawyers — flew to the Pacific nation as part of Exercise Boss Lift. Exercise Boss Lift allows employers to experience first hand their civilian employee’s Reserve role and their duties while deployed overseas.
John joined 16 other employers to travel to the Solomon Islands for a four-day visit to the Combined Task Force 635 (CTF 635) — the Australian Defence Force contribution to the Regional Assistance Mission Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
During the four day visit to the CTF 635, which is made up of soldiers from Australia, New Zealand and Tonga, John underwent a range of experiences including school visits, battlefield tours and firing the Steyr F88 on the range under the tutelage of his daughter Michelle.
“I think Exercise Boss Lift is excellent, I really do. And I give the Reserves strong support,” said John. “However, it wasn’t until I got over here to the Solomon Islands, through this first-hand experience, that I realised to what extent the Reservists have made a personal commitment to this country.”
For Michelle, this was her second deployment with the Australian Defence Force, having previously served in Operation Resolute in Northern Australia several years ago.
“I had heard about her role undertaking border patrols out of Darwin but nothing beats seeing exactly what they do first-hand,” John said.
As Michelle’s employer, John has noticed she has become more responsible in her civilian employment at Arcuri Lawyers since joining the Reserves.
“She has always been very competent in her work and I’ve encouraged her to be a part of the Australian Army Cadets since the age of 12.”
Apart from catching up with Michelle, the visit to the Deaf School was a highlight for John during Exercise Boss Lift.
“The school demonstrates what can be done with limited resources for those who are handicapped in this society. I also enjoyed meeting all the other employers who came over on this trip with me and I think Exercise Boss Lift is one of the best kept secrets in the Australian Defence Force.”
John said receiving the Employer Support Payments was not a motivating factor in allowing Michelle to deploy but the payments do assist in allowing him to employ someone else to cover the period of Michelle’s absence.
Steve Smith, Coordinator of Exercise Boss Lift said Boss Lift was primarily about bringing civilian employers of Reservists to operational or training areas, to facilitate an awareness of what the Reservist does in that environment.
“This awareness also includes the benefits of that training or experience that the Reservist can take back into their every day jobs,” he said.
Exercise Boss Lift is conducted by the Department of Defence’s Cadet, Reserve and Employer Support Division (CRESD). For further information visit www.defence.gov.au/reserves
Photo: Arcuri Lawyers migration agent and proud father, John Lingham and his Army Reservist daughter, Private Michelle Lingham, make a good impression with students at the San Isadora Deaf School near Honiara in the Solomon Islands.