Ministerial statement – third annual statement on veterans and their families

PDF version of this Ministerial Statement (PDF 77 KB)

I ask leave of the House to give the third annual Ministerial Statement on Veterans and their Families.

I begin by acknowledging all those in this place who have served in the Australian Defence Force and those listening by broadcast by saying simply, thank you for your service.

Following the Federal election, I was honoured to be reappointed to the Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel portfolios – a responsibility I take very seriously.

I have met with thousands of serving personnel, veterans, and their families. I have listened to their stories – what’s working and what needs to improve.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has recognised that some veterans and their families do not have the best experience when they leave the Australian Defence Force.

However, I do want to correct some of the ongoing myths surrounding service in the ADF.

Not everyone who leaves the ADF is broken, busted and bad.

For the vast majority of people, serving in the ADF is overwhelmingly a positive experience. It’s good for the individual, it’s good for our community and it’s in our national interest.

They leave the ADF and transition into civilian life successfully, having had a career that has set them up with the skills, training and attitude to succeed.

This is clearly shown through the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program, which has showcased the drive, entrepreneurship and leadership of our veterans.

Take Chris Mayfield OAM as an example. He is a third generation professional soldier, who transitioned in 2014 after 26 years of distinguished service.

Last year Chris won the Outstanding Contribution by an Individual to Veterans’ Employment, at the Prime Minister Veterans Employment Awards.

He transferred his skillset to help Fortescue Metals Group set-up a veteran’s employment initiative to help other veterans transfer their skills to the sector.

To date, Chris has influenced FMG to engage 92 veterans and the feedback on the skills, attitudes and contributions of the veterans has been outstanding.

Chris has not only found himself a new career, but he has also helped others to do so – good for the individual, good for the community and in the national interest.

We are also very privileged to have more than 20 Members and Senators in this place who are veterans and collectively, we are all here for the same purpose – to put veterans and their families first.

And this Government has achieved a lot, introducing and building a range of programs and services to support the health and wellbeing of veterans and their families.

Transition

Just as enlistment and basic training is an important part of the ADF, transition back into civilian life is equally important.

Every year, more than 5,500 people leave the military so improving the transition experience is vital.

The Defence post-transition survey indicates that 26 per cent of ADF members are looking for work prior to transition.

At three months post-transition this is down to 12 per cent, and by 12 months down to 8 per cent.

While the majority of personnel leaving the ADF are well prepared, it can be difficult for some and that is why from January this year, Defence has adopted a needs-based approach to individualised transition.

Regardless of time served, members can now access coaching, including career planning, full service documentation, skills recognition, resume preparation, job search programs, and financial literacy education.

Former ADF members are able to access this support, including employment support, for up to 12 months after transition.

All serving ADF members now have access to the two-day Job Search Preparation program at any time in their career.

For those personnel leaving for medical reasons with complex circumstances, Defence has introduced tailored assistance to gain civilian employment through the Transition for Employment program.

This tailored approach also includes early engagements and case management with DVA to ensure they are provided with the best support possible.

It is also important for all of us to know that the traditional view of a veteran has changed.

While some choose to stay in service for the majority of their life, the average career in the ADF is now around eight years, meaning some may be leaving at age 25 or under.

This can be an incredible shock to some and is why in January we launched the Personalised Career and Employment Program.

This program is targeted at those categorised ‘at-risk’ in the 18-24 year old cohort, who have served for less than four years and are transitioning for administrative or medical reasons.

Finding a job in civilian life is a critical step to a successful transition and one we are investing in.

I regularly see the professionalism, dedication, leadership, teamwork and the ability of our ADF personnel to work in high-pressure environments.

What employer wouldn’t want those skills in their workplace?

We all need to get the message out that employing a veteran is good for business.

Through the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program we have introduced the Veterans’ Employment Toolkit.

/Public Release. View in full here.