If Army medic Private Lauren Dam gets another opportunity to deploy to Solomon Islands, she has promised to return with a rugby league ball.
Alongside her Defence career, Private Dam has made a name for herself as a rugby league player, playing the 2021 season for the Gold Coast Titans and representing both Army and the combined ADF team in the sport.
However, on her first overseas deployment to take part in Exercise Coastwatchers, one of the first things she noticed was that the most popular sport was football (soccer) rather than either of the rugby codes.
“I was a little bit disappointed that rugby league had such a small following, but with so much energy and talent in the community, I’m sure I can come back with a rugby league ball and get everyone involved,” she said.
Private Dam is a medic with the 2nd Health Battalion in Brisbane. During Exercise Coastwatchers she has been providing support to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR) team, running a boats training course for the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF).
As well as being the medic during the training, she has also run first aid courses with the RSIPF – an experience she has enjoyed.
“Working side-by-side with local police during their training has been great,” Private Dam said.
“I’m proud to see my medic skills making a difference for Solomon Islands communities.”
As well as working alongside the RSIPF, Private Dam has enjoyed working with the amphibious boat team from 2RAR.
“I’d never worked with 2RAR before so it’s great to see another side of an infantry battalion – on the water rather than out in the field,” she said.
Before joining Army in 2017, Private Dam grew up in Coffs Harbour where she played a number of football codes and worked as a lifeguard and in a retail surf shop. However, she said from an early age she wanted to become a medic.
“I’ve always liked the idea of helping people and that guided my choice to join the Army to become a medic,” she said.
“I also saw that Army was very involved in humanitarian and disaster relief [HADR] work, which appealed to me.”
Exercise Coastwatchers is a regular annual exercise series designed jointly by the ADF and RSIPF to build Solomon Islands HADR and policing capabilities.
This year’s event – the first since 2019 because of COVID-19 restrictions – is being held in three phases. The last will be held in November.
Private Dam said if she could return to Solomon Islands for the third phase, she would be sure to take some rugby league balls along.