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Remembrance, reflection and mateship – Colonel Michelle Campbell

22 November 2019

We were honoured to co-host the RSL Victoria’s annual state remembrance service at the Springvale War Cemetery located within Springvale Botanical Cemetery on Sunday 10 November.

The service was hosted by RSL state President Dr Robert Webster OAM along with many members of the community including guest speaker COL Michelle Campbell, The Hon. Bill Shorten, Premier Daniel Andrews and, The Hon. Michael O’Brien. Local student, community and government representatives were invited to lay wreaths during the service, as the bravery and sacrifice of many servicemen and women were honoured.

Following the event, we welcomed guests to join us for an informal afternoon tea provided by Café Vita et flores. During this time, stories were shared and connections were made.

It’s community events like these that we gather together that the importance of customs and traditions are observed and preserved for further generations to come as we take a moment to pause and reflect together.

During this time we were delighted to sit down with Colonel Michelle Campbell and learn a little bit more about her experience while serving in the military, as we reflected on what significant days of remembrance mean to her.

Colonel Michelle Campbell at the RSL Victoria's annual state remembrance service
Colonel Michelle Campbell at the RSL Victoria's annual state remembrance service

Colonel Campbell has a passion for preserving military customs and traditions as well as educating the community on the importance of commemoration, but her connection to these days of remembrance run deeper that her own career; “For me, it’s a moment to pause and reflect on my service but also my family connection, my grandparents helped out with war service...they lost a lot of friends. It’s remembering them and also my service. It’s a moment in time that you pause to reflect and be grateful.”

Colonel Campbell was deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 as chief of the NATO Redeployment Fusion Cell and has been in the army reserve for 30 years. So when it comes to times of reflection during her military career, COL Campbell spoke about the importance of taking regular moments to pause and express gratitude; “We had services every Sunday morning because we lost people every week, we would read aloud the names of those that had lost their lives, everyone was always welcome to attend.”

She also talked to mateship; the friendships that are forged by the endearing bond of one inclusive mission; “More often than not it’s hard times, but when you finish the hard times you come back and you reminisce together”.

An eminent and compassionate leader, Colonel Campbell was awarded the Article 5 NATO Meritorious Service Medal for ‘distinguished service exhibiting outstanding leadership and exceptional contribution’. Throughout her time in the military, COL Campbell took the time to encourage and mentor others, passing on the qualities that she had learned, equipping them to excel in leadership.

Today and forevermore, we reflect on the men and women such as COL Campbell who have made sacrifices and continue to make sacrifices for our country.

It is through each individual and heroic sacrifice that is continually made for our country by our many brave servicemen and women that allow us to lead the exceptional quality of life that we lead today.

RSL Victoria’s annual state remembrance service at the Springvale War Cemetery
RSL Victoria’s annual state remembrance service at the Springvale War Cemetery
Dr Vanda Fortunato - SMCT Chairman, The Hon Bill Shorten and Jane Grover - SMCT CEO
Dr Vanda Fortunato - SMCT Chairman, The Hon Bill Shorten and Jane Grover - SMCT CEO
Dr Vanda Fortunato - SMCT Chairman, Premier Daniel Andrews and Jane Grover - SMCT CEO
Dr Vanda Fortunato - SMCT Chairman, Premier Daniel Andrews and Jane Grover - SMCT CEO
RSL Victoria’s annual state remembrance service at the Springvale War Cemetery
RSL Victoria’s annual state remembrance service at the Springvale War Cemetery
RSL Victoria’s annual state remembrance service at the Springvale War Cemetery
RSL Victoria’s annual state remembrance service at the Springvale War Cemetery