As her friends and family were celebrating Vanuatu’s 41st anniversary of independence in late July, Vanuatu Police Force Maritime Wing (PMW) PC Merwel Vocor was leaving Vanuatu for Australia.
CAPTION: Vanuatu Police Maritime Force Wing member PC Merwel Vocor studying at HMAS Creswell. Story by Leading Seaman Kylie Jagiello. Photo by Leading Seaman Ryan Tascas.
Supported by the Vanuatu-Australia Defence Cooperation Program, PC Vocor was selected to complete the New Entry Officers Course (NEOC) at HMAS Creswell.
PC Vocor is the second PMW member to attend NEOC, with her colleague PC Rachel Amkori completing the naval junior officer course last year.
Coming from Vanuatu’s subtropical climate, it took PC Vocor a while to get used to Canberra’s sub-zero temperatures when she first arrived.
“My clothes were not warm enough. Once I put warmer clothes on I was fine,” she said.
PC Vocor said joining the PMW had always been a dream for her and in preparation she attended Vanuatu Maritime College to get some sea training.
“We studied basic logistics, engineering and safety, first aid, hospitality and catering,” she said.
“I submitted my application to the PMW in 2018 and was selected the following year.”
Established in 1985, the Police Maritime Wing of the Vanuatu Police Force is responsible for providing a safe and secure environment for Vanuatu people.
Duties include regional policing, search and rescue missions, border patrols of Vanuatu waters, taking part in regional patrols with other nations and supporting disaster relief work.
The RAN and Police Maritime Wing share a rich history of cooperation and partnership, with the Vanuatu-Australia Defence Cooperation Program supporting Vanuatu to enhance its maritime security capability since 1987.
PC Vocor has fond memories of growing up in a small village on the island of Santo surrounded by her family.
“It was a challenge coming from a small village to Australia but I’m grateful for it,” she said.
On her first day of NEOC, PC Vocor was shy but as each day passed, her confidence grew and friendships blossomed.
“Now we hang out, I see NEOC as my family,” she said.
PC Vocor was nervous heading into the NEOC survival exercise.
“NEOC is all about teamwork and leadership and my team members helped me get through everything,” she said.
“They always encouraged me to keep going. We encouraged each other to be strong and always think about things ahead.”
When returning to Vanuatu, PC Vocor hopes to pass on what she’s learnt to other members of the PMW.
“I want to teach them what I’ve learnt in Australia, and to slowly change the way we do things to be more effective and streamlined,” she said.
“I’m grateful to the Australian Navy for providing international students the opportunity to come and upgrade their skills.”