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Saying Care with a Bear

WOCTL Graeme Gibney, of the PSU-ACT, presents one of the bears to ABCTL Sara Korevaar van der Meer, her husband Nicolas and new addition to their family, Anneke.

WHEN the Personnel Support Unit (PSU) Organisation was established in 2012, a limited supply of 'sailor bears' was provided to each unit to send to newborn babies of Navy women posted to the unit for maternity leave.

When the supply of bears ran out, PSU-ACT continued to source the bears from other local organisations and recently approached Keeping Watch which provided a grant to fund the continuation of the initiative.Keeping Watch was created in 2013 as an initiative of CN and the Navy Senior Leadership Group. The charity is an additional mechanism through which the RAN Relief Trust Fund provides comfort, recreation and welfare for a permanent or reserve member.

Keeping Watch's goal is to provide the financial means to support Navy personnel to assist them to continue their service. For some, this is about providing financial assistance in times of crisis, but in this case, it is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate a life milestone for serving mothers.

WOCTL Graeme Gibney, of the PSU-ACT, said the intent was to ensure members continued to feel a connection to the Navy while on leave during a period where their career wasn't their primary focus; especially in the early days after childbirth.

'The teddy bear scheme is focused on ensuring that members on maternity leave know they are not alone and that the Navy is thinking of them," WO Gibney said.

He said the initiative reinforced that Navy valued the contribution of women and supported them throughout all stages of their careers.

"For some, this time can be a stressful period where new mums feel isolated from their normal work-based supports, perhaps isolated from extended family, and at times separated from their partner due to service requirements," WO Gibney said.

Many of the new mums who received a bear and the accompanying card have expressed heartfelt appreciation for the gesture.

For those wishing to make a tax deductible donationpelase visit our donations page.

By Naomi Deignan



  • M Bult - HMAS Hobart

    When there was an unfortunate circumstance that resulted in financial hardship for a family member, Keeping Watch was eager to help out as much as possible. My divisional staff were more than accommodating to ensure that I understood the process, and between them and the Keeping Watch team I was constantly reassured that the help my family desperately needed at the time was being organised. Keeping Watch is the light at the end of the tunnel, you just need to reach out and ask for the help.
  • D Smith - Canberra

    I cannot thank Keeping Watch for helping us in our time of need. We were struggling with living expenses after a death in the family and I found out about Keeping Watch. I'm so glad I conatcted them to see how they could help. They were amazing throughout and the money could not have come at a better time. We are now moving forward positively and looking to the future. Thank you so much.
  • R James - Canberra

    I would highly recommend Keeping Watch if you need financial help and are a Navy family. We experienced an unexpected family crisis and we were struggling to meet daily living expenses and child care costs. Keeping Watch helped us through this difficult situation with a grant and offered some very valuable advise on how to deal with the loss. If you need help, contact Keeping Watch.