RSL plan to create ‘meaningful jobs’ for vets
MEANINGFUL jobs for returning veterans will be a part of a proposed five year plan by the Queensland Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL).
According to Wide Bay and Burnett branch president Trevor Williamson OAM, the project - rolling out in the coming months - will address several key concerns.
"The RSL's plan for the future in Queensland covers a variety of issues," Mr Williamson said.
"The biggest ones are looking after our veterans, and finding jobs them jobs."
Job creation will be a large part of their new scheme, in an effort to reach out to younger soldiers returning from overseas.
"When you're in an organisation like the Australian Defence Force (ADF), you're a part of a very tight team, but once you leave, you're in the open world where this camaraderie doesn't exist."
"The suicide rate in the ADF is quite high, so we need to get these young people back into the community in meaningful jobs where they feel valued."
A report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare about the incidence of suicide among serving and ex-serving ADF personnel between 2001-2015 highlights these concerns.
It shows ex-serving men aged 18-24 were twice as likely to die from suicide compared to Australian men of the same age.
In a speech to the Gayndah RSL on November 8, Mr Williamson stated the RSL had already found 250 jobs for young servicemen and women leaving the ADF.
"They call this a transition, and this work is now beginning with the younger veterans, finding out what they want to do."
Returned servicewoman and Gayndah resident Vicki Maddern believes something has to be done to aid ex-defence personnel, having employment difficulties herself after being discharged.
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"You go through these different programs to transition yourself to citizen life, and you have lots of skills they class as transferable," Mrs Maddern said.
"When my partner and I were discharged from the military, it was very hard to find work."
She had left the service in 2012, after three tours of the Middle East, two in East Timor, and one in the Solomon Islands.
Even with a diploma in logistics, a certificate IV in training and assessment and 18 years of military experience, Mrs Maddern received "nothing forthcoming" in regards to jobs in Townsville for several months.
"I was only able to find a job through word of mouth for the Queensland Ambulance Service teaching first aid."
Having moved back to her home town of Gayndah, Mrs Maddern was able to find work once more through a family connection, but suggests the way of the world has changed for veterans.
"It was a long time between the last two operational deployments of Vietnam and the Middle East, and many things have changed.
"We have suicide rates rising, and I feel like we've become more aware of the changing circumstances with the introduction of plans like these.
"Whether this five year transitional plan will be better for ex-defence personnel, we'll have to see.
"But they'll obviously have to do something."