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Kirstin

Kirstin FERGUSON

Year of Award: 2003 Award State: Queensland None > Defence And Security
Social Welfare > General
To examine innovative strategies and procedures for responding to the needs of Australian Defence Force families in the event of a family member dying whilst in service - USA
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Dr Kirstin Ferguson, from Brisbane, is a non-executive director on a range of company boards with a PhD (Business), LLB (Honours) and BA (Honours). In the earlier part of her career, Kirstin was an RAAF Officer after graduating as the most senior female cadet from the Australian Defence Forces Academy (ADFA) in 1993. Kirstin also graduated as the most senior RAAF cadet for which she was awarded the Chief of the Defence Force (Air Force) prize.

Upon graduation, Kirstin was posted to an F-111 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley. In addition to her duties as an Administration Officer, during this period she assisted bereaved military families as part of her additional role as the Base Burials Officer. A few years later, close friends were killed in an F-111 crash while they were on exercise in Malaysia and Kirstin witnessed first-hand the continuing issues that resulted for their bereaved families. These observations prompted Kirstin to apply for a Churchill Fellowship to investigate support strategies for military bereaved families as they dealt with the aftermath of the death of their loved ones. 

During her 2003 Churchill Fellowship Kirstin travelled to the US and met with the Australian astronaut, Dr Andy Thomas, to discuss the care for families after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster as well as representatives from the Pentagon and American Airlines to understand what strategies they have in place for the support of those involved in tragedies.

In Australia, Kirstin interviewed a large number of bereaved families of those killed while serving with the Australian Defence Force, as well as the then Chief of the Defence Force (Major General Peter Cosgrove) and then Chief of the Air Force (Air Marshal Angus Houston). Kirstin’s report was presented to the Chief of the Defence Force upon completion and many of the recommendations were incorporated into military policies and procedures.

(an excerpt from "Inspiring Australians" 2015)

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