Federal Government and Opposition increase training support for Defence Force personnel in transition to civilian life

Cowan MHR Anne Aly, Wanneroo RSL president Jack Le Cras and Opposition spokeswoman for veterans affairs Amanda Rishworth. Photo: Martin Kennealey
Cowan MHR Anne Aly, Wanneroo RSL president Jack Le Cras and Opposition spokeswoman for veterans affairs Amanda Rishworth. Photo: Martin Kennealey

TRAINING and education are seen as important support services for defence personnel in the transition to civilian life.

Wanneroo RSL president Jack Le Cras said he supported efforts on both sides of politics to help people during the transition following service.

“When I came out of World War II, we were provided with complete education and training,” he said.

“They offered me a two-year course at university.”

Last financial year, more than 300 Australian Defence Force (ADF) members based in WA left service and both the Federal Government and Opposition have been looking at ways to improve the transition.

A spokesperson for the departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) said they were working with the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation to improve the transition process.

“Through a joint taskforce, the departments have examined the transition experience of 600 transitioning ADF members and their families,” the spokesperson said.

“The work of this taskforce identified the barriers and enablers to an effective transition – these insights are now being used to drive further changes to transition policy, services and support.”

Labor recently announced it would provide $121 million over four years for a Veterans Employment Policy if elected.

Opposition veterans affairs spokeswoman Amanda Rishworth said unemployment was about 30 per cent for veterans after leaving service and many who found jobs were “under employed”.

Cowan MHR Anne Aly said she was staggered by the level of unemployment and welcomed any moved to help returning service men and women.

Ms Rishworth said the proposed funding package would include $5000 training grants for businesses that employed veterans and training for ADF members before transition.

“Our policy would require Defence to do a proper skills audit to help them get a job,” she said.

According to the department, about 5500 to 6000 people leave the ADF each year, and in WA, about 330 left in 2017-18, including about 80 who planned to move to another state or territory at the end of their service.

The DVA spokesperson said finding civilian employment was important for the success of many of those leaving service.

“The Government is committed to ensuring that ex-serving ADF members have access to services and support to help them in post-service life, including rehabilitation, treatment, compensation and income support,” the spokesperson said.

“In November 2016, the Prime Minister launched the Veterans’ Employment Program, which aims to encourage industry to recognise and appreciate the unique skills and valuable experience that members of the ADF can bring to the workplace.

“An additional $8.4 million was provided towards support for veteran employment opportunities in this year’s budget.”

Post Transition Survey results

(as at May 2, 2018, four months after transition)

45 per cent are working full-time

10 per cent are working part-time

7 per cent are studying

4 per cent are working and studying

13 per cent are looking for work (down to about 8 per cent 10 months after transition)

9 per cent are not looking for work

7 per cent are retired

5 per cent are undisclosed

The Transition and Wellbeing Research Program report, based on 2015 research and published in 2018, indicated 84 per cent of the transitioned ADF members were engaged in some purposeful activity.

It said 62.8 per cent were in civilian employment, and the figure excluded 5.5 per cent who had retired.

“Defence is using the series of surveys post transition to better understand transition outcomes for ADF members,” the spokesperson said.

“The survey results are assisting to introduce business improvements and focus on those members who require greater support.

“Since July 2017, through the new transition service delivery model, 4608 planning sessions and 4295 individual coaching sessions have been conducted with ADF members and their families.”

The spokesperson said former members could apply for apprenticeships and sponsorships offered by educational institutes such as TAFE, but the department was not aware of any financial subsidies available to employers who recruited former ADF personnel.

For more information, visit www.defence.gov.au or veteransemployment.gov.au.