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Interview: Nick Wray

Churchill:

So for Remembrance Day 2019 we thought we would interview Recognition of Prior Learning Assessor, Nick Wray, who spent 47 years in the military, nearly five decades. So Nick, can you please tell us a little bit about what you were doing and what Remembrance Day means to you?

Nick:

Okay, thanks Leonie for the opportunity. So my background in the military was that I started in 1970, I joined the Citizens Military Forces, which was the forerunner of the Australian Army Reserve. And the Vietnam war was still in place that time of course, and my national service number came up in 1972 that I elected to continue to serve in the Army Reserve, or the CMF as it was back in those days. So I then went and did that after two years, went and did some officer training and was conditioned in the artillery. And I really enjoyed my time at the artillery.

And so after that I was in that role, I was battery commander, so I had to command appointments. I then spent some years, nine years full-time service as an officer in command, company commander and also deployed to Iraq with the Australian Army training team. And then, I think it was five years instructing on the Australian regular army captain schools that, the officer training wing in Canungra. And after that in 2002, my team went to Queensland University regimen where I was the instructor on the captains and majors courses and I was the senior instructor for the Australian Reserve majors course, command leadership management and training package. So and then I retired in 2017, 20 months ago. But I’m really pleased that I’ve got now a further involvement with defence members that are seeking Recognition of Prior Learning with Churchill Education and able to continue to help people progress and change their lives.

Churchill:

It’s such a great opportunity, so much experience and so much personal insight into the services of anyone who’s been through defence. So it’s fantastic for Churchill to have you and with your insight doing assessments.

Nick:

I’d have to say that on the flip side of that coin is that Churchill Education are really customer focused and they’re a great organization and company to work for and we see some really good outcomes for people. And that’s brought me really good job satisfaction. But to move onto the Remembrance Day aspect that you spoke about Leonie.

Churchill:

Yeah.

Nick:

And what does it mean to me? Well there is of course the traditional gate signifies the end of hostilities in World War I. But to me, after that nearly five decades of serving in the Australian Army, it means more about gratitude and remembering my own service and those people that have served before me. And there are probably four aspects I’d like to touch on.

The first one is gratitude, not only to those that gave their life in inaugural conflicts that Australia has been involved in, but also those who served either at home or supporting those overseas or deployed overseas, to serve those people that did eventually give their life. Because that’s a segue into the commitment that’s required. And I’m grateful and I think about that commitment on Remembrance Day because each and every person that serves has signed a contract for the value of up to and including their life to serve their country.

Churchill:

That’s a big commitment, isn’t it?

Nick:

Well, you know, that’s what it is. That’s what it is. And you’ve got to be part of a very large team and that thing brings me back to remembering those with whom I’ve had the pleasure and the honour to serve over those years. And you can imagine from 1970 and after the Vietnam war in the Army Reserves when the military service was not the flavour of the month, that those people continued to serve, they really did help shape my life. Some of those people I’ve served with are no longer with us, they’ve passed on. But they have all impacted my life and some particularly positively impact my life. So I think of those people on the Remembrance Day and not only the ones that I know, but the people I don’t know that had been part of the army, I should say Defence Force I guess, but in my army experience that I don’t know, but they’ve still impacted on my service and ultimately on shaping my thinking.

In particular, the last aspect was sort of the code of ethics that the army instils through its training, through its culture in most of its members. And that there is a code of ethics that you can live your life by. That include things like comradeship or mateship, honesty, integrity, acceptance, respect, all those positive aspects that we would like to think we all have. But it’s actively shaped and encouraged, instilled when you’re serving in the army, was for me anyway. And that’s what I think of on Remembrance Day. I remember obviously the people that have given their life to provide this great country we’re in, but those also served who fortunately didn’t have to give their life, but still supported those efforts.

I think it’s a commitment that people had to make. Some probably made it with less thought than others, but the commitment was the same regardless. And remembering the people that I served with, and helping, that’s impacted on me and hopefully I’ve impacted on some of them. And in my training roles up through Canungra, I think there was about a thousand or so young officers, regular army or permanent forces.

Churchill:

Were you tough on them?

Nick:

It’s not a case of being tough, it’s an education rather than training.

Churchill:

Okay yeah.

Nick:

It’s an adult education environment, these are very bright young people and they just need that guiding and mentoring. And that was the role. And I really enjoyed it because you know, interacting with that group of people, I’ve got a lot of satisfaction out of that, job satisfaction is really the ultimate goal. But also in the reserves, which are a different group of people because they also have their civilian life. And they’ve either been in the full-time army and have transitioned to reserves, and that’s where Churchill Education helps with recognition of prior learning, or they have been purely reserved from day one. But regardless, they all live by those code of ethics and they’re all held accountable to those code of ethics. And you know, it’s a voluntary organization [inaudible 00:08:48] and that code of ethics is required. And that does then transition into your private life, [inaudible 00:08:58] can’t help but do that. So that sums up, I guess, Leonie what my thoughts are on Remembrance Day.

Churchill:

Thanks Nick. It’s really great to hear from someone within the Defence Force because I think a lot of us attend dawn services and we buy the poppies and all of those things that most of us know about. But to have the experience from the inside to really understand the significance of it, I think it was really special that we can tell that story.

Nick:

And it’s also important too Leonie, that those who have not served find it difficult to understand comradeship, et cetera, that you get from serving. But their support of the Defence Forces, when you’re a serving member, that is incredibly valuable. So when you say we only buy poppies or whatever, that is a terrific contribution to the shaping of this country.

Churchill:

Okay.

Nick:

And to the supporting of the Defence Forces. So that should not be undersold.

Churchill:

Okay.

Nick:

That aspect should not be undersold.

Churchill:

Okay.

Nick:

All right.

Churchill:

All right, thanks Nick.

Nick:

Okay, it’s been a pleasure.

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