Joint media release — Veterans recognised in civilian life

Thursday, October 7 2021

The Hon. Scott Morrison MP
Prime Minister

The Hon Andrew Gee MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel

The 2021 Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards have recognised the outstanding contributions made by veterans in the civilian workforce and the organisations that support them and their families.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this year’s eight Awards recipients highlighted the exceptional contribution of veteran employees, employers and entrepreneurs to the business world, after they transition out of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

“Veterans have so much to offer the businesses of our country,” the Prime Minister said.

“In the ADF, our service men and women demonstrate skill, loyalty, dedication, perseverance, service and sacrifice. They understand mission, are trained problem solvers, deal with stress, and always have a go.

“You won’t find a better employee than the highly-skilled men and women who have served in the ADF, and the Veterans’ Employment Awards celebrate that path into the civilian workforce.

“I congratulate all the nominees and winners of this year’s Awards for their leadership in demonstrating the value and contribution that our veterans continue to provide to the workforce.

“I would like to particularly acknowledge the winner of the Veteran Employee of the Year Award, Ben Davoren, for his contribution post-service as Business Development Manager at TacMed Australia.

“Ben deployed on combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and has shared his ADF knowledge and experience to train our first responders, positively impacting the lives of many.”
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Andrew Gee said the Royal Australian Navy veteran and proprietor of Meru Foods, Chris de Bono, was a natural fit for Veterans’ Entrepreneur of the Year.

“Mr de Bono has successfully transitioned skills he gained during his 14 years in the Navy and the Reserves to start an innovative food company that is now servicing domestic and international restaurant markets. Meru Foods has been specialising in producing fermented soy products in Tasmania since 2017. Mr de Bono is an outstanding example of an entrepreneurial and dedicated individual who is leading the way in private business,” Minister Gee said.

“Our nation’s veterans are some of the most capable operators in business. They are leaders, critical thinkers and problem solvers. Quite simply our veterans are a national asset.

“The qualifications and skills of veterans can be applied to any workplace, and Australian businesses recognise that our defence force personnel are among the most highly skilled in the world.

“We know that the men and women who serve in uniform are our nation’s best, and it’s an honour to celebrate the achievements of all our veterans in civilian life.”

Each year around 5,500 Australian men and women transition from service into civilian life. The annual Awards are part of the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program and are an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate veterans and the organisations who employ and support them and their families.

Further information about the Awards and the 2021 winners can be found on the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program website, and images and other materials are available on Dropbox.

The full list of winners:

Winners of the 2021 Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards
Category Winner
Veteran Employee of the Year Ben Davoren, TacMed Australia
Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year Chris de Bono, Meru Foods
Veterans’ Employer of the Year – Large BAE Systems Australia
Veterans’ Employer of the Year – Medium HENSOLDT Australia
Veterans’ Employer of the Year – Small Australian Expedition Vehicles
Excellence in Supporting Veteran Employment Working Spirit
Excellence in Supporting Partner Employment Alison Bannister Career Coaching
Public Sector Excellence in Supporting Veteran Employment NSW Government Veterans Employment Program

Media contacts

Minister Gee office: 0459 966 944
DVA Media: 02 6289 6466

Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling provides 24/7 free confidential crisis support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families on 1800 011 046 or the Open Arms website. Safe Zone Support provides anonymous counselling on 1800 142 072. Defence All-Hours Support Line provides support for ADF personnel on 1800 628 036 or the Department of Defence website. Defence Member and Family Helpline provides support for Defence families on 1800 624 608.