Recognising support for ADF reservists


The winners of the annual National Employer Support Awards (NESA) were announced in Sydney recently.

Defence’s NESA acknowledge the country’s most supportive civilian employers of ADF Reserve members and their contribution to ADF capability.

The event was held at the Australian National Maritime Museum in November, bringing together the best of the best.

All in attendance had been nominated by their reservist employees and had already won their respective state/territory Employer Support Award.

Head of Joint Support Services Division Major General Douglas Laidlaw hosted the ceremony and described the finalists as being an example of what it means to be a remarkable, supportive employer of ADF reservists.

Fire and Rescue NSW were the winners of the public sector category, with Commissioner Jeremy Fewtrell accepting the award. Captain Lucas Catalano, who works for Fire and Rescue NSW, nominated his employer for the award.

“It’s a really great honour for us to receive this award. I really appreciate our reservist nominating us,” Commissioner Fewtrell said.

“Fire and Rescue provides a similar common purpose [to that of Defence]: you become part of a team, and you’re working in high-pressure situations, but you have all that wonderful camaraderie and support. So to be able to have reservists like Lucas providing that capability to the community and to the nation, it’s a real honour for us to be able to support him.

“The ability for him to lead a team and have a positive impact on the community, as well as his specialist skills as a HAZMAT technician, shows how capable, versatile and transferable his skills are.”

Captain Catalano said that having a supportive employer made the balance of juggling a civilian and military career a lot easier.

“It’s definitely a force multiplier, working in a busy command where I’ve got the requirement to deploy overseas pretty rapidly or attend training tasks. I know my employer is always going to support my leave, which just means one less thing I have to stress about,” Captain Catalano said.

Major General Laidlaw said the awards showcased employers that have demonstrated outstanding support to their staff who conduct ADF service and contribute to protecting Australia’s national interests.

“You are here tonight as your reservist values your support in enabling them to undertake Defence service,” Major General Laidlaw said.

“I commend the award-winning organisations and all the nominees for their continued support of our ADF reservists and their communities across Australia.”

Winners of the 2023 National Employer Support Awards:

Ensign Laboratories, Victoria – Private Sector, Large

Protegas, Queensland – Private Sector, Medium

Functional AF, WA – Private Sector, Small

Queensland Police Service, Bob Atkinson Operational Capabilities Centre, Queensland – Public Sector

Fire and Rescue NSW – Public Sector

Patrol Boat Group Headquarters, NT – Public Sector

St John WA – Not for Profit

Honourable mentions:

Symbion, Queensland – Private Sector, Large

Talent Quarter, NSW, Private Sector, Medium

Humanihut, South Australia and LEGEAR Australia, Victoria – Private Sector, small

Tasmania Government Department of Justice – Public Sector

Fit to Drive Foundation Incorporated, Victoria – Not for Profit

For more information on support to reservists as well as recognition for civilian employers of reservists, visit ADF Reserves and Employer Support.

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