The recent defence industry dinner and awards provided an opportunity to display the strong bonds the sector has developed.
The inaugural WA Defence Industry Gala Dinner was held at Optus Stadium earlier this month.
Organised by the volunteer and not-for-profit defence industry associations – Australian Industry Defence Network in Western Australia (AIDN-WA) and Henderson Alliance – the event was designed to be a celebration of industry.
AIDN-WA vice-chair and industry engagement manager for Naval Ship Management, Brett Peek, provided the opening address and noted the event was an opportunity to celebrate industry and all it offered.
“We wanted an event that was accessible to all, that showed we all share a common goal, and to show those outside of WA how connected our community is,” he said.
Mr Peek’s introduction was followed by a video address from the Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price, who provided optimism for the future while including some political talking points for the sector.
WA Defence Industry Minister Paul Papalia, alongside Henderson Alliance chairperson Rohan Green, presented the Minister’s Award for Services to Defence Industry to Maritime Defence Solutions director Terry Gropp.
Mr Green said the awards were a welcome initiative for industry by the state government.
“Recognition in our industry is a way of giving thanks to those who aim to assist others or those companies that set an example for others to follow,” he told the audience of almost 500 people.
“It sets a benchmark for the future and hopefully inspires many other wonderful individuals and SMEs to continue pushing forward.”
In this vein, and in a week that included the safe rescue of four-year-old Cleo Smith in Carnarvon, Mr Papalia, who also holds the police portfolio, gave special thanks to WA Police in a message that resonated with those at the event, the defence community, which is also unified in its passion to protect and serve.
In my capacity as AIDN-WA chair, and representing both industry associations, I provided the closing address, in which I sought to bring together the key elements expressed throughout the evening.
“The WA defence industry is a rich tapestry of dedicated, resilient and innovative SMEs, world-class primes, supportive government and government agencies, selfless military personnel, collaborative industry groups, and a strategically critical location.
“WA is seeking continuity to ensure job retention and the development of ongoing capability. We are looking for commitment, especially leading into an election cycle, where promises become realities. And we are showing our cohesion, across the whole WA defence ecosystem.
“Give us your challenges, and watch this cohesive ecosystem respond in the way WA already has for several other world leading industries. Continuity, commitment, cohesion.”
A celebration between colleagues and friends across industry, government and defence, the event provided a clear message that WA industry is ready to tackle challenges together in support of the national interest.
In terms of further recognition of talent, the AIDN-WA Young Achiever Award was presented to Warren Ko of Ventia. In co-presenting the award, 2020 winner Taylor Odishoo spoke of her experience and highlighted the potential for imposter syndrome in youth, and the importance of supportive colleagues and friends in pushing through that barrier as a key to her success.
• Kristian Constantinides is the general manager of Airflite, and chairperson of AIDN-WA; the opinions expressed are purely his own