Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has implored Australian businesses to look beyond the uniform and offer equal opportunities to veterans.
Putting the call out at the inaugural Prime Minister's Veterans' Employment Awards, Prime Minister Turnbull said he is committed to changing the culture of support for veterans, particularly in the area of employment.
"We best honour the diggers of 100 years ago by supporting the service men and women and the veterans of today," the PM said.
"The sad truth is that we have not always done so, or not always done well enough. I am committed to changing that."
The Prime Minister said currently "civilian" employers are often unaware of the skills of veterans and the role they could take on in civilian employment.
"Many organisations are not aware of the value of military experience, and how these skills can transfer to civilian roles," he said.
"All too often civilian employers don’t understand the many roles veterans perform within the Defence Force. Sometimes all a recruiter may know about soldiering is what they’ve seen in war movies. They may not know how to ask the right questions to translate military skills to everyday jobs. So I established the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program to bridge this gap between our veterans and industry."
Prime Minister Turnbull reflected on how the idea for the program came about, touching on his son-in-law's experience after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Now through my son-in-law, our son-in-law James Brown, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’ve been fortunate to meet many veterans of his generation. Speaking to them at the North Bondi RSL a couple of years ago, I learned first-hand what it’s like to return from the frontline and try to build a new life in the civilian world," he said.
"Sometimes, coming home can be among the toughest challenges our veterans face. Now, the idea for the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program grew from that meeting. Too often when we look at our ADF personnel we see them simply as men and women in uniform.
"But we must also see them as teachers and nurses, scientists, miners, and any one of a thousand other professions, callings, including, may I say, members of Parliament and senators."
The event saw Army Veteran Glen Ferrarotto awarded the top honour of Outstanding Contribution by an Individual to Veterans’ Employment. Ferrarotto founded Ironside Recruitment, an organisation specifically dedicated to placing ex-service personnel into employment outside the Australian Defence Force.
The award for Outstanding Contribution by an Organisation to Veterans' Employment was won by WithYouWithMe, a veteran-owned company. WithYouWithMe assists veterans to move from the ADF to a new career.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester congratulated the winners and urged all Australian businesses to get on board and employ a veteran.
"Leaving the Defence Force is a significant change for our veterans, which is why it is vital we ensure ex-service men and women have the support to find meaningful careers when they return to civilian life," Minister Chester said.
"These awards showcase the successes of employing highly skilled and motivated ex-servicemen and women."
Full List of Winners
Outstanding Contribution by an Individual to Veterans’ Employment
Glen Ferrarotto – Ironside Recruitment
Outstanding Contribution by an Organisation to Veterans' Employment and Excellence in Supporting Veterans’ Employment
Veterans’ Employee of the Year
Rachel Ranton – Westpac Group
Veterans’ Employer of the Year – Large Business
Boeing Defence Australia
Veterans’ Employer of the Year – Small to Medium Sized Business
Leadership in the Recruitment of Veterans and Veterans’ Employer of the Year – Public Sector Organisation
NSW Government – Veteran Employment Program
Excellence in Supporting Spouse Employment