Interview with Peter Reardon
Peter began his career in the federal Department of Employment, Education and Training, where he was involved in career guidance, training and employment counselling, before moving into management. Concurrent with his full-time employment, he also joined the Army Reserve at 19 and was posted to the Psychology Corps, whose main role was soldier and officer selection.
Over the ensuing years, he rose to the rank of warrant officer class one. He joined the Victorian WorkCover Authority as a business analyst in 1990, and later moved into an education and training role before being appointed as human resources manager for the WorkSafe division. By now he had been commissioned as an army officer, and in 2003 he was posted to the Victorian Army Cadet headquarters, where he was offered a full-time appointment as an army officer. He came to Scotch College on a part-time basis in 2009, and was appointed as Commanding Officer of our Cadet Unit on 1 April 2012, receiving the CO’s sword at the 2012 Tattoo.
Peter still holds a part-time appointment as a major in the Army Reserve, and last year reached the milestone of 40 years of military service, as well as becoming a first-time grandfather to his eldest daughter’s child, Eloise Jean.
ABOVE: PETER REARDON RECEIVING THE COMMANDING OFFICER’S SWORD AT AN ANNUAL CADET TATTOO.
What do you most enjoy about your work at Scotch College?
A lot of my role involves planning, administration and management, all of which are important and which I have been involved in throughout my career. However, the role also offers the opportunity to be closely involved at what the army would call the ‘operational level’. This includes being involved in the weekly training, the promotions courses and being in the field with the cadets, as well as taking them to various ceremonial activities, and I find this mix of practical and intellectual activity to be very enjoyable. I particularly enjoy the discussions with Heads of Houses and other teaching staff that help me align the programme more closely with the pastoral development and engagement of the boys.
Scotch is proud of its tradition of service, and this year the school is commemorating the sacrifices made by Old Boys who lost their lives in the pursuit of freedom. How do you think the great traditions of service and duty benefit the students of today?
The last 20 years have seen a very strong identification by young people generally with the service and sacrifice of past generations, as evidenced by the growing numbers at Anzac Day and other memorial services. This has puzzled many commentators, who regard it as a contradiction to some other more widely recognised traits of youth. The walls of our Memorial Hall record the sacrifice in conflict of hundreds of Old Boys and masters; but, fittingly, the walls also record hundreds of names of those who have given service to the school in countless other endeavours and areas of leadership. So to my mind, the Memorial Hall stands like a beacon to the students of today, directing them to the community’s call to service and duty, in order to make their contribution to a greater purpose..
I know that the Pipes and Drums and the Military Band have supported the Melbourne Anzac Day March for many years, but I am especially impressed to see the large number of our cadets who also volunteer to come along and carry the banners of veterans’ associations each year. The formal commemorative nature of this march, like our Tattoo, means that the cadets are allowed to wear the service medals of their forebears on the right breast of their cadet uniform, and these boys are always very keen to show me whose medals they are wearing and what they represent.
What student expressions of personal growth most impress you?.
Each year more than 120 Year 9s join the Cadet Unit, which includes the Military Band. Between February and September, these boys go through the recruit training programme, culminating in annual camp. The opportunities for personal growth for Year 9s are many and varied, whether it is skill-based, such as drill, fieldcraft and navigation, or whether it is behaviour-based, such as discipline, punctuality and personal organisation, or ‘character development’ such as the challenge of abseiling.
However, I believe the boys who stay beyond Year 9 get the most opportunities, as they take on real leadership roles within the Cadet Unit. Last year I was watching a Year 10 corporal conduct a dress inspection of a Year 9 cadet, and to be honest, it was less than impressive, such that he was more relieved than the Year 9 when it was over. When I asked his Year 11 sergeant for his opinion, the sergeant’s response to me was ‘not good, but he will be better next time’. I was and remain impressed with his candour, as well as the confidence he had in the corporal’s prospects for improvement.
What event do you like most in the busy Scotch Cadets calendar?
As well as the weekly training sessions, our main events are the Term 1 bivouac, the annual Tattoo, Anzac Day, main camp in September and the promotion courses camp in December, and all have some great highlights. Also tucked into our programme early in Term 4 is the Farewell Parade for the Year 12s, followed by their Cadet Valedictory Dinner.
The ceremonial uniforms always look spectacular on the billiard table green of the Meares Oval. This is probably the event that I enjoy most, as it is a chance to put the ‘final product’ on display..