Flinders University has outlined its plans for the funds received from the government as part of the Supporting Younger Veterans (SYV) program.
The university will use the $157,750 to provide funding for a project officer to establish a peer group support program that can "provide relevant transition, study and lifestyle support for younger veterans wanting to embark on study programs, with access to expertise in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mental health, and drug and alcohol support".
Flinders University research associate professor Ben Wadham, working alongside the William Kibby VC Shed Group, will also research both the "blockers and enablers" for younger veterans to enter tertiary study, which will "help develop improved pathways to tertiary study for transitioning veterans that can be applied nationally".
“When it’s time for a veteran to separate from the military, it is a profound time of change,” Wadham said.
“While many make a smooth transition into civilian life, a significant number of veterans experience difficulties in employment, education, health, social and relationship issues. Higher education is great pathway for some veterans to find meaningful employment. The learning process is empowering, giving veterans confidence, knowledge and tools to realise their own aspirations.
“Veterans often want to give back to the community and research at Flinders can help that facilitate this. Therapists with military experience, in particular, have the advantage of shared experiences with veteran clients.”
The study support program will feature a "Why University Studies?" symposium at the William Kibby VC Veterans Shed in Glenelg North, in conjunction with Flinders University's College of Education, Psychology and Social Work.
The project will also identify veterans currently enrolled at Flinders University to help with the establishment of a [email protected] peer group.
The College of Education, Psychology and Social Work has "expertise in mental health, family issues, PTSD and drug and alcohol support, and can contribute to this group by providing relevant transition, study and lifestyle support".
“This involves changing the ways we identify veterans at university, how we support their study needs in the contexts of their wider lives, and how we recognise things like prior learning – making military learning articulate with university learning," said Wadham.
"The project will provide the impetus to begin that cultural change."
Wadham has the added benefit of personal experience and insight, having served in the Australian Army from 1987-1992, before commencing university studies.
Wadham is now a sociologist working in Flinders University's College of Education, Psychology and Social Work.