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August 16, 2012
hands of friendship
For RAAF dental nurse LACW
Natalie Summersgill, the experience
was a chance to expand her career
knowledge by working in clinics
without power with overseas dentists
on patients presenting with advanced
"It's been very different to what I
am use to," she said.
"The language barrier with our
patients was the biggest challenge, but
it's amazing how far a smile will get
you, and a friendly touch on the hand
of a scared child can be very calming
The purpose of the annual Pacific
Partnership activities is to bring
together partner and host nations to
share common specialist skills on real-
time activities to create a capability
to respond to any future large-scale
As such the partnership becomes
a melting pot of different cultures,
expertise and techniques that creates a
valuable learning and sharing environ-
In the case of RAAF anesthetist
SQNLDR Gareth Lyttle, though, the
learning was about their unity.
"What surprised me most was how
similar we all are in the way we prac-
tice medicine," he said.
"There's a common culture of
wanting to work together and we've
been able to integrate into the system
here the way we would at home.
"One of the most valuable things
about working alongside Americans,
the Dutch and even other Australians
has been learning that we are more
similar than we are different.
"So in the event of a disaster relief
operation I think we would all work
together in a very constructive way."
CMDR Ken Walters, the Australian
contingent commander, said the ADF
members had represented their country
"Our continuing presence on the
annual Pacific Partnership mission has
not gone unnoticed by our American
allies," he said.
"The Australians are the largest
partnering military force to the US
this year, and we are the only partner
nation to have served on all Pacific
Partnership activities with the US
since its inception in 2006.
"At the heart of the partnership,
though, is the direct impact we make
on the lives of people.
"For example, in just the
Philippines, the multinational medical
teams saw over 16,000 patients at the
regional day clinics, and at all those
clinics there were Australian medical
and dental personal working shoulder-
to-shoulder with people from as far
away as Canada and the Netherlands.
"Added to that are the untold thou-
sands of people who will benefit from
the engineering and veterinary projects
we have completed.
"Pacific Partnership is very real
proof of how Australians can come
together with other nations to alleviate
suffering and build close relationships
that leave an enduring legacy."
TAKING HELP WHERE IT'S NEEDED: USNS Mercy which served as a
floating hospital and laboratory for 12 weeks.
Photo: LS Andrew Dakin
SHINE A LIGHT: Dental nurse LAC Natalie Summersgill, left, directs
a torch light for dentist Miranda Davis during a dental assessment at a
primary school in Vietnam.
Photo: FSGT Craig Sharp
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