Education is the key for those leaving ADF | OPINION

SUPPORT: A UNSW scholarship is designed to help people leaving the ADF with education for a new career. Picture: Karleen Minney
SUPPORT: A UNSW scholarship is designed to help people leaving the ADF with education for a new career. Picture: Karleen Minney

It is said that the average person will change their career at least five times during their working life.

Usually there’s a natural segue from one career to the next, but when there is a massive change in direction, education is a necessary part of that transition.  

A career in the military is inherently one that requires a transition to other employment because very few people stay in the military through to retirement.

The Veteran Employment Report, released in 2017 by WithYouWithMe, showed veterans spent an average of 7.5 years in the military before transition.

Most of these veterans are still young men and women, with the majority of their working lives ahead of them.

When we talk about people transitioning from military life to civilian life, we tend to think about a change in lifestyle, rather than employment. The missing piece of the puzzle in the conversation is education.

The Australian Defence Force is an outstanding employer. It provides a lot of education for its staff and some of it can help with the transition.

It also offers transition counselling. However, the onus is on the employee to seek education when they leave the ADF and there are usually financial hurdles.

This is better understood in the United States, and it’s why they introduced GI Bill – a benefit designed to help service members and veterans cover the costs of education, including tuition and housing.

While there is no GI Bill equivalent in Australia, there are still ways we can help cover university costs for those who have served our country, such as scholarships.

UNSW Canberra has taken the lead by establishing the UNSW Veterans Scholarship to celebrate our premier partnership with the Invictus Games Sydney 2018. We are reaching out to the community to assist with this fundraising initiative.

UNSW Canberra has close ties with Defence. For 50 years, we have provided a tertiary education to Australian Defence Force trainee officers.

Their time at UNSW Canberra and the ADF Academy marks the start of their journey with Defence, and we want to support them on their journey long after they’ve graduated. 

That’s why we are passionate about initiatives such as the Invictus Games and it’s why we’ve established this scholarship. The scholarship is open to former and current Australian service personnel who are making the transition from military to civilian life, as well as their dependents.

To be eligible to apply, applicants must be accepted into an undergraduate or postgraduate study at UNSW campuses in Canberra, Sydney or online.  

We hope the scholarship will help provide the recipients with a new sense of purpose and build on their career prospects as they enter the civilian workforce.

Members of the ADF have made a huge commitment to this country and they have plenty to contribute to the community after they’ve discharged.

We want to help them achieve an education that will help them funnel these skills into a new career.

Beyond leadership and trade skills, the ADF also equips its employees with a wide range of transferable skills including leadership, teamwork, risk management, the ability to execute a plan and effective communication.  

We want to help them achieve an education that will help them funnel these skills into a new career.

We’re aligning the purpose of the UNSW Veterans Scholarship closely with the values of the Invictus Games, and we hope to carry on the legacy of the games. 

The games highlight the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding of those who serve their country.

The games also celebrate the crucial role played by family and friends in the recovery process. 

The Invictus Games aims to provide an environment of belonging, promoting an active and connected lifestyle through adaptive sport, health and well-being, education and employment.  

The UNSW Veterans Scholarship will, through the power of education, help support former ADF personnel.

We are proud to have contributed to shaping the lives and careers of members of the ADF and we look forward to strengthening that contribution with the new scholarship.  

We wish every participant in the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 luck, particularly the seven UNSW Canberra alumni representing the Australian team.

We look forward to supporting them as they compete in athletics, indoor rowing, powerlifting, swimming and sailing.

Professor Michael Frater is Rector of UNSW Canberra. UNSW is raising funds to support the UNSW Veterans Scholarship. For more details, visit