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Unique bond forged through sacrifice and service

Written by Mark Acheson, Communications Partner with integratedliving

The concept of sacrifice might look different to Enda "Jo" Ward and Janine Lucas, but the word binds both client and integratedliving Australia Support Worker together.
 

Burnie's 96-year-old, Jo, served in the Australian Army during the Second World War, manning Sydney's spotlights in search of enemy planes.

Jo lights up at the notion that she may be the only Second World War female veteran on Tasmania's North-West Coast. Today is just the second time since the end of the war that she’ll attend an ANZAC Day service. Thanks to some strings pulled by Janine, she'll ride in one of the vehicles in the Burnie parade. Jo has mixed emotions about the service, born mostly out of modesty.

"I always thought ANZAC Day was for the men and their buddies," she said.

"I've never thought of anything like this. You just had your job to do."

At just 16, Jo enlisted to join the Royal Australian Airforce but was knocked back due to her age. She next looked to the army.

“They’d take anyone," she said chuckling.

Jo with Janine, Support Worker

Making her first ever Bass Strait crossing, Jo trained at Kapooka, the Army Recruit Training Centre south-west of Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. She dug trenches, assembled and disassembled weaponry, and was even shrouded in poisonous gasses as part of her training.

“We were 18-year-old kids that had never been away from home and then plonked into a five-man tent. You had to adjust yourself” she said.

While her time spent at Kapooka was mostly pleasant Jo said the camp food was less than desirable. “We had food, which I don’t think you’d ever eat,” she said.

“We used to put it in the garbage and go over to the Yanks and have theirs.”

After three months of training, Jo found herself at various outposts around Sydney.

“If certain planes came over at certain times you had what we call the code of the day, and if they didn’t have that code, we knew we were in trouble, she said.

“Oh yes we used the machine guns. The 303s.”

“They used a Tiger Moth, a bi-plane, for practice. We’d put the lights on and the guns would be going. I don’t know what the people in Sydney thought, but we were there to protect them.”

Janine has a deep sense of appreciation towards Jo and all Australian servicemen and women.

Meanwhile with Janine’s long lineage of family that has, and continues to serve in the forces, she believes she was bound by a sense of duty to continue caring for Jo as Burnie and its surroundings areas went into lockdown this time year last.

A COVID-19 outbreak at the North West Regional Hospital this time last year, believed to be linked to a passenger on the Ruby Princess, forced all staff in quarantine, and the hospital went into shut down for a deep clean.

For nine weeks Janine made the choice to sacrifice seeing friends and family to prevent any chance of Jo becoming sick. Janine spent her 60th birthday alone at home with her beloved pooch, Holly, and cat, Poppy.

"It was a very quiet birthday,” she said.

"I saw my dad from a distance when I did his groceries and took them down for him, put them in the middle of his backyard, yelled out that I loved him, hopped in the car, and drove away.

"There were a few of the girls (support workers) who did the same thing. We put our lives on hold for the job."

For Janine there's a deep sense of appreciation towards Jo and all Australian servicemen and women. She believes her sacrifices are only minuscule in comparison.

"I'm proud as punch of anybody that joins the forces, the sacrifices they make and putting their lives on hold for the betterment of everyone else, especially during wartime,” she said.

"I think anyone that joined the forces and went to war, be it World War Two or modern-day, I think they're heroes."

Janine cares for Jo in her home nearly every day of the week, both morning and afternoon. Once the morning routine is completed, it is "regulation" that the pair have a coffee and biscuit. They talk about their favourite television shows, Midsomer Murders or A Touch of Frost, or marvel at photos of Janine's pets.

Janine enjoys the many stories her client’s share and the lessons she learns along the way.

"I believe they give more than what I give. They've got knowledge, wisdom, and life experiences." she said.

"It's not an area I never really thought of working in, but when I got my job with integratedliving, I think I found my calling."