Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 4 2009 Contents 44
recent encounter on a busy
adelaide street will remain a
defining moment in leanne
storey’s professional career.
Working as an International
Policy Officer within Defence’s
Strategy Executive, Leanne was deployed to Iraq
in 2008 as part of a team sent in to help
permanently resettle a designated group of Iraqi
Locally Engaged Employees (LEEs) and members
of their family unit, at risk because of their
engagement with the Australian Government.
Almost six months on, the team had a unique
opportunity to get an update on their progress
as part of a series of meetings that were held
around Australia. Happy to witness some tangible
outcomes from the work she had done, Leanne
was also given some surprising news.
“After the meeting I was rushing to get a
cab to the airport when one of the Iraqi men
approached me,” Leanne said. “He said that he
and his wife loved my name so much, and were so
grateful for the work we had done in getting them
to Australia, that they named their first daughter
after me—it was pretty amazing.”
The Iraqi man and his wife formed part of a group
of more than 400 others who had been employed by,
or were closely connected with, ADF elements in Iraq
mostly as translators and interpreters.
But as the ADF began withdrawing from southern
Iraq in mid 2008, insurgent groups were increasingly
targeting Iraqis who had provided assistance to
Coalition forces, as many had visible roles.
“We knew that some had received threats
from insurgents trying to discourage them
from supporting us, and our concern was that
these threats were very real, so the Australian
Government offered them an option to get a
permanent visa in Australia as respect for the
work they did for us,” Leanne said.
Leanne joined two other Defence civilians
and a group of ADF personnel and Reservists who
provided legal, medical, and logistical support.
They also worked closely with two Department of
Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) officials who were
deployed to complete the visa application process.
“The Reservists assisting us really understood
the policy and were really glad to be a part of
what we were doing,” Leanne said. “This was
also a unique deployment in that it was the first
time civilians had been deployed to an operational
theatre to address a specific policy issue. It was all
Although the ADF had records of most of the
locals who had worked with ADF forces, there were
still many others that needed to be located. And so
with the assistance of an interpreter, little business
cards were given out to the local population with an
email address and mobile number.
“Even with the cards, we found
overwhelmingly that word of mouth worked best,”
Each day, after dodging armoured vehicles on
the way to breakfast at the mess, Leanne would
read through emails and take calls from Iraqis
wishing to meet for a consultation.
of the Iraqi
many would not
get to see, and I
am very grateful
– International Policy Officer
Set up as more of a chat than a screening
process, they would give advice on eligibility of the
scheme, and the Reservists would conduct medical
assessments for families in support of the issuance
“We had people coming in to chat with us,
literally in tears because all they wanted to do is to
get their children to a place where they were safe
and their kids could have a good education,” Leanne
said. “Some of their children were very ill and they
would have never been able to get the appropriate
medical help if they had stayed in Iraq.”
“I saw a side of the Iraqi population that many
would not get to see, and I am very grateful for that.”
To prove that they had worked with our ADF
forces, many of the Iraqis brought with them
certificates and letters of recommendation from
previous ADF Commanders.
“I have honestly never read a bunch of more
glowing recommendations, the letters these ADF
Commanders took time out to write were just
amazing,” Leanne said.
The team would then take any other evidence
of employment and an ADF legal officer would
check certificates and paper work and sign off
the documents as being genuine.
“The ADF reservists would then conduct
medical assessments to ensure the Iraqis were
fit for travel,” Leanne said.
“The compassion they demonstrated in
undertaking this task, with all the security and
cultural implications it entailed, was a credit to
each and every one of them.
“DIAC would then assist Iraqi employees
and their family members by processing visa
applications, providing them with travel documents
and referral to settlement service providers.”
The Iraqis then departed their home country
on an ADF aircraft before transferring to commercial
transport for the long flight to Australia.
Now resettled throughout most capital cities
in Australia, these LEEs are entitled to the full suite
of on-arrival support as is provided to refugees
resettled under the existing Humanitarian Program.
aBoVe leFT: leanne takes in the view while at the outer perimeter of the camp in southern Iraq. aBoVe: The cDF awarded a group commendation to four
Defence personnel for their efforts in implementing the humanitarian visa scheme in Iraq. (l-r): captain alison malpass, ms sari sutton, cDF acm angus
houston, ms emily Jeffrey, ms leanne storey. aBoVe rIghT: leanne (left) and sari next to what is believed to be the original house of abraham and the
ziggurat in the outer perimeter of the camp in southern Iraq.
Defence civilian helps
with new beginnings
By Jack Foster
defence magazine ›
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