The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP: Well I want to thank you all for coming here today and Glen and tech2, thank you for welcoming us to this fabulous business here. Twenty years strong, twenty years strong just recently, congratulations on everything you've been able to achieve.
It's good business to employ veterans. It's good for businesses, it's good for veterans, it's good for our economy, it's good for our community. That's what tech2 understands and that's what all the companies today understand who are signing up to our new commitment to ensure that we can see more veterans make that transition from their life of service, to their civilian life and their role ongoing in the Australian economy. I want to thank all the companies today that have come along and signed up here. I want to particularly thank you George for your leadership in bringing this initiative together. But here today we have Boeing, we have Westpac, we have JP Morgan, we have CanPLAY, we have a range of businesses here who are taking on this commitment and working with us.
The veterans employment commitment is part of the compact that I began speaking about last weekend. It's this compact where Australia has a tremendous, tremendous culture of respect for our servicemen and women and our veterans. It is our culture of respect, to say thank you for your service. But it has to be more practical than that. That's why on the weekend we announced the new initiative of the veterans card. The veterans card which provides an accredited process for companies large and small, all around the country to say thank you for your service to veterans in any walk of life, in any form of business and for that to be a constant recognition. That builds and continues to nurture the culture of respect. What we're doing today is adding to that by the veterans' employment initiative and you can go to veteransemployment.gov.au.
What this process is about, from the measures I announced in this year's Budget, is to give the support to companies to register, to be able to proudly proclaim — like tech2 is, who employ 120 ex-servicemen and women throughout their company today out of an employee roll of about 500, now one in five employees or more here at tech2 are ex-servicemen and women — for them to be able to proudly say; "We employ veterans. We support our servicemen and women." I think that is a very proud thing for any Australian company or any company that is operating here in Australia to be able to say. In talking to the employees here today, what I have heard from them — like with Shannon who is here — the tremendous value-add that is put into these businesses. The culture, the training, the discipline, the ability to deal with difficult situations, the adaptiveness. All of these things are adding serious value to the businesses.
Now, it's a transition when you go from a life of service, whether it's on the HMAS Adelaide or other forms of service in the military, the Defence forces and the Army, the Navy and the Air Force and coming into a commercial civilian environment. There is a bit of a pathway there. But the more veterans that are able to do that, the more businesses support those veterans in that transition, the more veterans there will be in those companies who can help their fellow veterans make that adjustment. It's very different from, you know, being up at Lavarack one day, up in Townsville and then turning up to tech2 the next fortnight and that's an adjustment. This program is all about assisting our veterans to make that adjustment.
Now, Trooper Mark Donaldson is here today, he knows all about being very innovative and adaptive and he has made a tremendous transition from his exemplary service in our armed forces into the civilian and commercial life that he is now engaged in. And they are the role models, they are the exemplars for our veterans going forward.
So our men and women who join up, who spend years in service, can then know that on the other side of their service, they will be able to go forward. They will be able to start small businesses, as we learned today. They'll be able to go out there and employ fellow veterans and they'll be able to make their way.
That's how we keep our Defence forces strong; by ensuring that they know when they're finished with their service they'll be able to continue their success in their civilian life. Our veterans, our servicemen and women, make many sacrifices, particularly being away from their families. And when they finally make the decisions to move on from the Defence forces, they want to get on with those lives like the rest of us are able to every single day.
So I want to commend you, Darren, on the tremendous work you've done in pulling this programme together, and Glen and to all the other businesses who've signed up today and made that commitment. I know you'll be joined by thousands of business all around the country. So I'm very pleased that we are putting veterans first and we're ensuring that we're dealing with not only memorialising those who have fallen but we are serving those who are living. Darren?
Minister for Veterans' Affairs, the Hon Darren Chester MP: Well thank you Prime Minister, I'm glad I didn't prepare a speech because you have said it all. Thank you so much and a couple of other thank you to you George Frazis for the team at the Industry Advisory Council. Your work has been fantastic, we really appreciate that. To you Glen for inviting us out here to tech2 today and also to your staff, many of whom have served and I want to say thank you for your service. In that same vein can I recognise Mark Donaldson VC for your service but also for the great work you're doing now Mark in promoting a very positive message among the veteran community that there is life after the Army, the Navy, or the Air Force. That this is the next stage of your life where you can achieve great things. I think it's a very important message Mark and I thank you for doing that.
There's only two points I want to make. When it comes to the issue of veterans' employment, there is a challenge for Government to make sure we're doing the right thing by our serving men and women during that transition phase. That we look after them during their Defence force service, we provide them the skills, the training opportunities, so that one day they can transition successfully into civilian life. On the other side of the equation, we have to make sure the corporate community, the business community, understands the transferability of those skills. So there is an educational process for us to do there as well, and that's what is so important about this veterans commitment and the companies who have signed here today. You're recognising the opportunity for your business, that is going to be good for your business, to look at the ADF ex-serving personnel and find roles for them within your business. So the challenge for us as a Government is to make sure the ADF personnel are well prepared, but challenge also on the civilian and the corporate side to make sure you're a welcoming organisation and you recognise how those skills will transfer.
So it is a great occasion, I thank you again George for the work you have already done. But perhaps more importantly, thank you for the work you're going to do on our behalf in continuing to sell that message that hiring a veteran is good for your business and there's great opportunities for the Australian corporate sector to work with the ADF on making sure that transition, that transfer of skills moves through as positively as possible. So thank you very much and I introduce George.
George Frazis, CEO Consumer Bank Divisions Westpac: Thank you Minister and can I start by thanking you Prime Minister for your passion and not only the passion but the concrete actions in terms of helping veterans. If you look at the recent research between Linkedin and Westpac, of the 12 capabilities that organisations are looking for, veterans rate above average on all 12 capabilities. An absolute spike on things like leadership, change management and strategy. So as an ex-Royal Australia Air Force engineer, I know the challenges veterans have in terms of the transition. But I also know the huge value they can provide to organisations big or small. From my perspective this is a win-win-win. It's a win for veterans, they get meaningful careers. It's a win for the organization, having access to this huge pool of talent. And it's a win for our nation because we're giving back to those servicemen and women who have sacrificed so much for our standards of living and our freedoms. I encourage all organisations to sign up, every little bit helps. Basically, together we can make a meaningful difference to the lives of veterans and their families.
I have to say, Glen, congratulations for being among the first to sign up to the agreement, so well done Glen.
Glen Powys, Founder and Managing Director, tech2: We're honoured to have done so and thank you for your service.
Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au