Army reservist Corporal Stehpanie Schuurmans has spent the past few years working in the ski fields of Japan and travelling, all while continuing to serve part-time in the ADF.
CAPTION: Army reservist Corporal Stephanie Schuurmans at the Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort. Story by Captain Michael Trainor.
Under new opportunities for reservists provided through the Army’s Total Workforce System, Headquarters 1st Division/Deployable Joint Force Headquarters employed Corporal Schuurmans to support the ADF with her language skills, which has helped the ADF to strengthen its relationship with Japan.
Corporal Schuurmans said the opportunity to keep serving remotely under the Army’s Future Ready Workforce program had provided her with the flexibility to continue her travels and maintain a good work-life balance.
“After serving full-time from 2013-2019, I transferred to the Army Reserve so I could pursue my passion for advancing my Japanese language skills as well as travel,” Corporal Schuurmans said.
“I arrived in Japan in November 2019, where I worked at the Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort.
“I was able to use and develop my language skills in an employment setting, and I learnt to snowboard.
“I found a job going on [the intranet] to work remotely for Headquarters 1st Division/Deployable Joint Force Headquarters to help with Japanese language and culture.
“I applied and was lucky enough to be given the opportunity.
“The job has been extremely interesting and rewarding, and being able to do this has been a win-win for both myself and Defence.
“I’m more motivated to serve and it’s provided me with an opportunity to provide real capability.”
Corporal Schuurmans used her Japanese language skills to provide linguistic support to the Australian contingent deployed to Japan as part of Exercise Yama Sakura 81.
“My role was to provide linguistic and interpreter support in a variety of settings, including everything from peer-to-peer level engagement, key stakeholder interpreting, logistics, bookings and amendments, cultural immersion activities, and ensuring things run smoothly where the language barrier is often present,” Corporal Schuurmans said.
“Being able to participate in this fantastic opportunity with the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force has been amazing.
“The Japanese staff were extremely welcoming towards the Australian contingent, and are passionate Australian enthusiasts.
“During this whole experience, including the exercise, I feel that I have been able to fulfil a key role here in providing linguistic and cultural support to the ADF, which eventuated due to the flexibility and support offered by Army.”
ADF Contingent Commander on Exercise Yama Sakura 81 and Colonel Effects at Headquarters 1st Division/Deployable Joint Force Headquarters, Colonel Corey Shillabeer, said the opportunity for reservists to provide specialist support to the ADF through the Future Ready Workforce greatly enhanced Defence’s overall capability.
“Here in Japan, being able to use Corporal Schuurmans’ in-depth knowledge of the local language, customs and culture proved invaluable to our participation in the exercise,” Colonel Shillabeer said.
“Not only did her support enable Army to build a strong relationship with our Japanese Ground Self Defence Force counterparts, the work she has undertaken remotely over the past few years for the HQ while in Japan added much-needed capacity to our team back in Australia.”
Corporal Schuurmans returned to Australia for Christmas.