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  • Writer's pictureSheree Hoddinett

A Passion for Helping Others

For Graham Wiseman, a career in the Royal Australian Air Force was the beginning of many years of helping people and would lead into his next role as a chaplain.

Helping others has always been a big part of Graham Wiseman’s life. A career in the Royal Australian Air Force spanning two decades and multiple moves nationally and even internationally set him up for his next rewarding chapter in life, working as a chaplain. Now enjoying retired life at Bolton Clarke Inverpine Murrumba Downs with his wife Pam by his side, Graham still dabbles in chaplaincy work, while making the most of opportunities to spend time with family and friends.

“We have had quite a life and I feel we have been blessed.

Graham joined the air force in 1961, the same year that he and Pam married. His RAAF career involved a mixture of reports and paperwork, looking after aircraft, maintaining safety equipment and overseeing a squadron. He was first posted to Point Cook in Victoria for two years before heading to Williamtown near Newcastle and then made the journey overseas, with a young family in tow.

“I was there for five years working on fighter aircraft before we went to Malaysia,” he says. “The first time we went we had our two little girls with us and the next time, yes we got to go back again, we also had our two boys.

“I was on base and that's where our house was. I was in charge and had to look after the aircraft work we did, which was in safety equipment. We used to fold parachutes and that sort of thing, especially aircraft parachutes. So when they land, they pop out a parachute and that pulls them up on the strip. When it’s dropped off the aircraft and collected and we had to repack them to be used again.

“Overall we spent five years in Malaysia and that’s certainly a different way of life over there. You do miss being at home and the way of life we have here, plus things like fresh milk and it’s hard to get Australian meat, but we had good stores and we made the most of it so it wasn’t too bad.” After retiring from the RAAF when he was 41, Graham (who turned 83 last month) also worked in a shop that sold furniture and then he joined Telstra for 11 years.

“I actually really enjoyed my time with Telstra,” he says. “It was doing nearly the same sort of stuff as I was doing in the Air Force, obviously not the same equipment, it was Telstra items but after about six months you find your rhythm and it becomes like a similar routine anyway.”

Venturing down the chaplain path came about after a lady at Graham’s church suggested the idea.

“When I got out of the air force, my mum was sick and I used to go and visit her in the hospital a lot,” he says. “The lady at our church said I should be a chaplain and I asked her why. She told me that everything I already do is chaplaincy. So I ended up applying and I did 12 months first with the Prince Charles Hospital and then I got on to general chaplaincy.

“It was a great program to be a part of because every church was involved and it was great. That way we were then able to go into any ward in any hospital because we were trained, not just in one religion and that meant we could visit anybody.”

It seems helping others has been the natural path for Graham to follow for many years.

“I've always been that way,” he says. “Even in the RAAF I was a warrant officer before I got out and in that role you're in charge of 30-odd men and they have to do as they're told, whether they like it or not. But you have to tell them the right way, you can’t force them. It’s more a case of pulling them aside and making them aware of what’s required of them.”

His chaplaincy chapter has spanned 25 years and you can tell by the way Graham talks about it all, it has brought great meaning into his life. As with many things in life as we get older, Graham has had to slow down due to a few health issues and it’s meant his interests and passions have had to take more of a backseat role.

“I’m just taking it easy, well trying to and enjoying life a bit,” he says. “I’ve been working here (at Inverpine) as a chaplain for about 12 years on and off, but now it’s getting to a stage where I have to hand things over and slow down a little bit more.”

Graham also talks quite proudly of his “big” family. With four children, Graham is also a grandfather of 11 and great-grandfather of six. Although many of them live on the other side of Brisbane, they are still there for support. One granddaughter even makes the time to visit with her partner every second Friday for morning tea. It definitely sounds like quite a highlight in the Wiseman residence!

“We have had quite a life and I feel we have been blessed, we really have,” Graham says.


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