Soliders walking across green grass approaching a black helicopter marked army; colonial-style buildings and palm trees in the background
Case study /
Keeping Australians safe

Krystian: defence

SGT Ray Vance/Department of Defence

‘In my job I get to provide assistance to the Australian public in times of natural disaster and to foreign nations in reconstruction efforts’, says Captain Krystian Havlin of the 2nd Combat Engineer Regiment, 7th Combat Brigade, Australian Defence Force.

Krystian started his career with the Australian Defence Force straight out of high school, moving from Melbourne to Canberra to study a Bachelor of Civil Engineering at the Australian Defence Force Academy. Nine years on, he lives in Brisbane and has travelled to central Australia and Fiji as part of construction teams, and undertaken multi-national training in the UK and US.

As a construction engineer, Krystian focuses on the management of large construction or reconstruction projects. In 2016, he travelled to Fiji as part of Operation Fiji Assist, in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Winston. He spent two months working hand-in-hand with counterparts in the Republic of Fiji Military Forces clearing debris, distributing drinking water and repairing buildings, particularly schools and hospitals.

The more we interact internationally, the more secure Australia will be.

Profile photograph of Krystian Havlin in army fatigues and hat, with Australian flag visible on left arm

Captain Krystian Havlin. Image credit: SGT Ray Vance/Department of Defence

Another important role was working on the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program. In 2015, Krystian travelled to a remote Aboriginal community in central Australia to help build housing and sports facilities. As part of this project, he worked alongside an array of regional partners including counterparts from Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Timor–Leste. ‘It’s a program we have to enhance our relationships with other nations through the provision of construction work. We invite them over to work with us, try to impart our knowledge and skills, and enhance their technical knowledge’, Krystian says.

For Krystian, his work is as much about building relationships, as building things. And while this cross-cultural work can be challenging in terms of ‘understanding their training and how they work, and integrating our forces with theirs to achieve a combined effort’, Krystian says it plays a larger role in strengthening regional relationships. ‘If we do deploy in wartime, we have the mutual understanding of each other’s different forces. The more engagement we have with other nations’ forces, the stronger we are as a single entity in our region.’

Two soldiers inspecting a white and green building, with small wooden desks inside, lush green plantations and mountains in background

Australian Army officer Captain Krystian Havlin (left) and Republic of Fiji Military Forces Staff Sergeant Anave Gonewai assess the damage on the Rakiraki Muslim Primary School as part of Operation Fiji Assist. Image credit: SGT Ray Vance/Department of Defence

Both projects have been immensely satisfying for Krystian. ‘It’s great work and you can immediately see the impact you have on people’s lives and how much our assistance has helped.’ And whether Krystian is working at home or overseas, it’s all about strengthening Australia and the region. ‘It's about promoting our relationships internationally. We demonstrate how professional and committed the soldiers of the Australian Defence Force are while maintaining professional working relations with other nations. The more we interact internationally, the more secure Australia will be’, Krystian says.