Georgia Piggott: A Career in the Army

Even in 2022, it’s not that common to hear stories about alumni joining the defence force. As of 30 June 2020, the number in the permanent Australian Defence Force reached 19.2 %.

Class of 2019 graduate Georgia Piggott is one of this relatively small number of women in the services.

Georgia joined the Australian Defence Force (ADF), enlisting in the Army before heading off to the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) in Canberra to complete a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Business and International & Political Studies.

We asked Georgia to share some of her story with us.

What inspired you to join the Services?

I was inspired to join the defence force by the challenge and uncertainty of it. The opportunity to do something different that would challenge me mentally, physically, and intellectually seemed very exciting and is what drove me to start my application process. Additionally, my father and his service to Australia also inspired me and were a driving factor in my application. 

Have you found anything challenging during your time at ADFA?

Whilst at ADFA, the most challenging thing so far would have been COVID-19 and the restrictions that it brought. When I first joined in January, I thought I would be coming home for two weeks in April, but it wasn’t until December that I could come home. Spending that much time away from home as a 17-year-old was definitely challenging, but I had a great support network and friends at ADFA to keep me positive.

What’s a typical workday look like for you?

Every day at ADFA is different. However, it usually starts at 7.00 am with roll call. From 8.00 am – to 10.00 am, we have military training, which ranges from physical training sessions to character and ethics to learning about Australia’s strategic environment, future threats and what will be expected of us as junior officers in the ADF. 10.00 am – 6.00 pm is dedicated to university, which ranges depending on what degree you are studying.

As an Arts student, I spend on average, two to four hours each day at university, and the rest of the time I will spend doing personal admin or going to the gym. In the evenings, we have sports and extra co-curricular, with Wednesday evenings dedicated to a VIP brief. Throughout my time at ADFA, I have heard from each of the Chiefs of Services, Chief of Joint Capabilities and the Chief of the Defence Force.

On weekends we have no academic or military commitments, so it is a good time to relax and prepare for the week ahead. 

 What do you do to relax or take time out from your schedule?

To relax and take time out, I like to go to the gym or go for a run. Exercise is not only a key part of being in the ADF but is a great way to clear the mind and take some personal time out. I’ve recently sustained an injury that limits me from being able to do everything I could previously do, so I have taken up swimming which I find very therapeutic. Additionally, whenever we can, there are trips up to Sydney or to the coast for the weekend, which is a great way to escape the freezing cold of Canberra and take some time to relax. 

 How have you found the training?

Academically I have found the training more than manageable. As I am doing an Arts degree, I have plenty of spare time to catch up on extra work and military commitments. Additionally, I have used study and time management skills learnt and practised during high school to help me manage my time between military, academic and sporting commitments.

Physically, I have been challenged a bit, but not as much as I expected, specifically during army-specific training with activities like weight-loaded marching and fire and movement. However, nothing is unachievable if you really set your mind to it. When you’re on piquet at 2.00 am in negative temperatures for two to three hours, waiting and watching ahead or crawling through mud during a PT session, it can be mentally challenging to keep going. For me, it is knowing that whatever I’m doing will end and knowing that those who have gone before me have done it much tougher than I ever will. This is what keeps me going. 

 Do you have a family tradition of people serving in the armed forces?

My father served in the Australian army for 18 years, including time in the Reserves, Armoured Corp and Special Air Service Regiment. 

 Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I will likely be a senior Lieutenant or junior Captain. I will hopefully be in the Intelligence Corp and working in the human intelligence space. As I’m Army, this will likely be in Brisbane, Townsville or Darwin. I have a minimum of five years to give back for my training time. However, I think that I’ll be staying in the defence force for a few more years than that. 

Thanks for sharing your story with us Georgia.

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