Queensland jobs program helps veterans transition to life outside the ADF

By Leo D’Angelo Fisher

The Australian economy is showing signs of rebounding from the worst of the coronavirus impact in 2020 which means more employment opportunities. That’s good news for people with the necessary work experience and qualifications but for many veterans accessing those jobs is not without challenges.


The jobs horizon is much clearer for anyone with a degree qualification, an apprenticeship or formal training in skills that are in demand. For veterans, however, even with more jobs in the offing, it is still difficult to win over potential employers.


This is especially a problem for young veterans who have plenty of practical experience and skills attained through their service in the Australian Defence Force but which do not readily translate into a sparkling CV suitable for civilian employment.


STEPS Group Australia, a not-for-profit organisation that provides training and employment services, seeks to address this dilemma through its new initiative, the Young Veterans Support Program.


The program, currently limited to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast but with plans to expand subject to government funding, provides free employment support to young veterans aged 19-29.


Veterans can access a range of support for reintegrating into society and finding employment that suits their skills, needs and aspirations. The program has already had “immense success” in helping young veterans into employment, according to STEPS.


The program is staffed by experienced ex-service consultants who can help with identifying job opportunities and career pathways, resume writing, interview techniques and job readiness training.


Veteran and STEPS employment specialist Tadd Marturano, who is based in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, says the program also offers ongoing support once veterans have been placed in a new role because of the “unique dilemmas” that veterans face when reintegrating into society.


“When you leave service, you leave your tribe. You leave your identity,” Marturano told Noosa Today.


“There are so many things as a veteran when you’re transitioning that you worry about. Who understands and can translate the Defence experience? How am I going to support myself? Where do I find the support I need?


“Finding meaningful community engagement through employment can alleviate some of the stresses and provide [veterans] with a new support network.”


The program introduces young veterans to members of the veteran community who have already transitioned to life outside the ADF.


One young veteran to benefit from the program is Aaron Fayers from the Sunshine Coast. Thanks to Tadd Marturano he has landed a job as a carpenter and maintenance supervisor.


"Having served in the ADF, then changed over to a FIFO [fly in, fly out] job post-Defence life, I did not think I'd have a problem finding work,” Fayers says.


“About two and a half months had passed and despite applying for many jobs on employment websites I was having no luck.”


Marturano, who served five years with the ADF, understands the difficulty that veterans can face in finding suitable employment.


“Veterans discharge from service with an exemplary skill-set that can make a huge positive impact in any workplace: resilience, determination, discipline and leadership are commonplace strengths within our veteran community,” he says.


“However, working in Defence is no ordinary job and it is sometimes difficult to know how to transfer your skills to make yourself desirable in the civilian workplace.”


Fayers, who was recommended to the Young Veterans Support Program by the President of Young Veterans Sunshine Coast, Peter Kennedy, says Marturano was “unbelievably responsive straight from the word go”.


“Tadd reviewed my CV and skill-sets, helped me to neaten up my cover letter to be more competitive, and in our first meeting was able to get an understanding of my background and my desired direction of work,” Fayers recalls.


“Within two days, I was being contacted and short-listed for jobs from companies with a need for workers, and specifically ex-Defence members due to their training and discipline.


“Having the support of the STEPS program has been a massive help.”


According to STEPS, strategic partnerships play a key role in the services it delivers.


“We work hard to create mutually beneficial relationships with industry, local employers, government and the community,” the group states on its website.


“Over the years these partnerships have seen us create innovative solutions for communities and pathways towards independence for thousands of our customers.”


To benefit from the STEPS Young Veterans Support Program speak to a veteran support consultant on (07) 5453 8700 or email youngvets@stepsgroup.com.au.

Leo D'Angelo Fisher is a regular columnist and Editor-at-Large at Australian Veteran News. Connect with him on Twitter: @DAngeloFisher.