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Proud to Serve | Paula Gardiner

Paula’s pride in serving her nation shines through her 34-year service in Australia’s defence sector; from her time in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), then as a Commonwealth contractor, and now to her career with Babcock as Materials Coordinator, Regional Maintenance Provider (RMP)-West.

My interest in a defence career began when I was in high school in the late 1980s when my parents brought home some Australian Defence Force (ADF) recruitment literature for one of my brothers. I read through it and really liked what I read about the Navy.

I had wanted to be a policewoman, but at that time the Queensland Police Force didn’t take women until they were 18. To me, it made sense to join the RAN and use the opportunity to later transition into a military policing role after four years, but I ended up loving the role and stayed in a Materiel Logistics role.

I joined the RAN as a Stores Victualler predominantly looking after food and clothing. I wanted to serve at sea, however, in the late 80s and early 90s there weren’t many billets for women in my branch. I had also started a family and so I discharged after my second child was born.

Proud to Serve | Paula Gardiner - Royal Australian Navy

After seven years with the RAN, and attaining the rank of Leading Seaman, I transitioned into civilian life to work as a Commonwealth contractor, managing the WA/SA regions within the clothing store contract to defence. I held this role for 17 years, working my way up to Regional Manager.

For me it was almost like providing a continuity of care; I just loved being around defence, I loved the culture and providing the support.

During my time in the RAN, and then managing within the clothing store contract, I gained extensive knowledge of the RAN’s logistics and store systems. I also learned about the people and take pride in continuing and forging new relationships with the Commonwealth and stakeholders in the Department of Defence, whether it is civilian or military.

I joined Naval Ship Management (now Babcock) in 2019, bringing with me that defence ethos, knowledge, and relationships to the job. As Materials Coordinator for Babcock’s RMP-West program, I’m responsible for managing all the materials that are required for maintenance of RAN ships at Henderson in Western Australia.

My role involves provisioning, managing, and reporting for all Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) for RMP-West maintenance periods. I also provide discrepancy management, stocktake management and overall logistics management for GFE required in support of maintenance activities.

My work at Babcock feels like a continuation of my 34 years of service within the Defence community. Relationships really endure because of the work we do.

I’ve had the privilege of working with and supporting high-ranking female officers as they have advanced through the ranks. It has been wonderful to see them recognised for their hard work, seeing mechanics, engineers, electricians, and other roles women have taken on within the defence sector.

It is the relationships forged through service that endure and make Babcock a great place to work. By helping to support Navy ships and minor vessels throughout their maintenance periods, Babcock is enabling the RAN fleet to be seaworthy and capable to defend our country.

As the RMP-W, Babcock is contracted to provide sustainment activities to RAN assets in region, including the Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), ANZAC Class and Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR). Learn more here > RMP-W Case Study

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