I’m pleased to announce the inaugural winners of the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards.
This event celebrates the enormous contribution made by Australian veterans and the businesses which benefit from their experience, skills, and leadership.
The awards showcase businesses across Australia which employ or support veterans of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), while highlighting the significant contributions being made by veterans in the civilian workplace.
Too often we look at our ex-servicemen and women and see them only as a uniform. But we must also see them as executives and engineers, managers, scientists, miners, or any number of other professions.
Army Veteran Glen Ferrarotto has been awarded the top honour of Outstanding Contribution by an Individual to Veterans’ Employment. Mr Ferrarotto founded Ironside Recruitment, an organisation specifically dedicated to placing ex-service personnel into employment outside the Australian Defence Force.
Glen is assisting veterans across the country to apply their valuable military skills and experience in the workforce, and he should be commended for his contribution to the lives of men and women who have served our country in uniform.
The award for Outstanding Contribution by an Organisation to Veterans' Employment was won by WithYouWithMe, a veteran-owned company. WithYouWithMe assists veterans to move from the ADF to a new career.
WithYouWithMe has an impressive network of veteran employers and has developed innovative training programs which give many veterans rewarding careers.
I join the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Darren Chester in congratulating the winners, and together we urge all Australian businesses to get on board and employ a veteran.
“Leaving the defence force is a significant change for our veterans, which is why it is vital we ensure ex-service men and women have the support to find meaningful careers when they return to civilian life,” Mr Chester said.
“These awards showcase the successes of employing highly skilled and motivated ex-servicemen and women.”
The Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards are just one part of a larger program to raise awareness of the enormous value and unique experience our veterans have and the significant contribution they can make in civilian employment.
Further information and winners can be found at: www.veteransemployment.gov.au
The Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards Principal Sponsors are Australia Post and Westpac Group.
Full List of Winners
Outstanding Contribution by an Individual to Veterans’ Employment
Glen Ferrarotto – Ironside Recruitment
Outstanding Contribution by an Organisation to Veterans' Employment and,
Excellence in Supporting Veterans’ Employment
Veterans’ Employee of the Year
Rachel Ranton – Westpac Group
Veterans’ Employer of the Year – Large Business
Boeing Defence Australia
Veterans’ Employer of the Year – Small to Medium Sized Business
Leadership in the Recruitment of Veterans and,
Veterans’ Employer of the Year – Public Sector Organisation
NSW Government – Veteran Employment Program
Excellence in Supporting Spouse Employment
Veterans, parliamentary and ministerial colleagues, distinguished guests.
Yoonggu gulanyin ngalawiri, dhunayi, Ngoonawal dhowrrra.
Wanggarra lin jin yin marunn bulaan boogarabung.
We’re gathered on the land of the Ngunnawal people and we honour their elders, past and present, and honour tonight especially the service of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in the Australian Defence Force.
Now you know if you fling the doors of this parliament open, fling the doors of this Great Hall open and right through the parliament, fling open the doors of the Cabinet and Prime Minister’s Office. You look straight across the lake at the Australian War Memorial.
We look down Anzac Parade from here, lined with memorials to the men and women who protected our nation, to the place where we honour all of those who’ve served in our uniform, served in our uniform and paid the supreme sacrifice.
It is a solemn and very powerful reminder of the debt we owe to the men and women of the ADF.
All the freedoms we enjoy and which we practice here in this parliament are the result of the sacrifices they’ve made — on the beaches of Gallipoli more than a hundred years ago, to the front line against Da’esh in the Middle East today.
Their stories have inspired every generation, and are they are woven tightly, deeply, indelibly into our national identity.
And it’s a legacy that must be honoured well beyond the time when they hand in their uniform and return to civilian life.
We best honour the diggers of 100 years ago by supporting the servicemen and women and the veterans of today.
The sad truth is that we have not always done so, or not always done well enough. I am committed to changing that.
Now through my son-in-law, our son-in-law James Brown, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’ve been fortunate to meet many veterans of his generation.
Speaking to them at the North Bondi RSL a couple of years ago, I learned firsthand what it’s like to return from the frontline and try to build a new life in the civilian world.
Sometimes, coming home can be among the toughest challenges our veterans face.
Now the idea for the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program grew from that meeting.
Too often when we look at our ADF personnel we see them simply as men and women in uniform.
But we must also see them as teachers and nurses, scientists, miners, and any one of a thousand other professions, callings, including, may I say, Members of Parliament and Senators. Of course, veterans have a reputation for telling it like it is, so what better way to continue serving your country than in politics?
Now the Australian Parliament is lucky to have many veterans, right across the political spectrum. It’s good to see Mike Kelly and Luke Gosling here tonight, as well as Andrew Hastie and Jim Molan. I’ve certainly received plenty of their frank and fearless advice!
Particularly from Andrew and Jim, like most veterans, they tell it like it is.
For most members the transition to politics seems to have been fairly seamless. Andrew Hastie tells me there may be fewer live grenades here but life in Parliament House is still very regimented.
Now our veterans have impressive résumés.
They’re motivated, resilient and proven problem solvers. They can cope with unexpected and unpredictable situations.
They’ve operated around the world. They can work cooperatively with people from different countries, different cultures, different languages and different backgrounds.
They are great leaders, trained to deliver their best and get the best out of others.
But many organisations are not aware of the value of military experience, and how these skills can transfer to civilian roles.
All too often civilian employers don’t understand the many roles veterans perform within the Defence Force. Sometimes all a recruiter may know about soldiering is what they’ve seen in war movies. They may not know how to ask the right questions to translate military skills to everyday jobs.
So I established the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program to bridge this gap between our veterans and industry.
It highlights the unique skills and experiences of our veterans and it shows the value that they bring to the civilian workplace.
And so tonight we’re celebrating the organisations across Australia who are going that extra mile to employ or support our veterans.
The organisations that recognise the remarkable benefits of having veterans as employees.
By sharing your stories— your experience of hiring veterans— I hope more employers across the country will see the benefits, as well.
Now tonight, we also celebrate the significant contributions veterans are making in the workplace; with three outstanding veterans nominated for Veteran Employee of the Year.
Take for example Rachel Ranton. She served in the Australian Army for eleven years before becoming a branch manager at a St George bank in southern Queensland.
Rachel had never worked in a bank when she started the role. Yet she’s turned the branch into one of the highest performing in southern Queensland.
Stuart Munro served in Afghanistan, Iraq and East Timor. Today, he’s an emerging leader at Turner & Townsend, a global professional services company.
His manager noted that Stuart’s ‘pursuit of excellence is unrivalled and clearly a result of his military training’.
And Kathryn Burr enjoyed a career in the Navy before joining Boeing Defence Australia, where she became the first female appointed as Chief Engineer.
Not surprisingly, Boeing noted Kathryn’s ‘passion and commitment’ as two of her best traits.
And of course there are veterans in my own department in PM&C with whom I have worked very closely including another sailor, Commodore Leigh Goddard, to whom we wish fair winds and a following sea as he heads up our Port Moresby APEC taskforce.
In 2018 we mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, the war to end all wars.
Next month I’ll travel to Villers-Bretonneux on the Western Front to commemorate Anzac Day at the scene of one of Australia’s most remarkable military feats - a counter-attack that saved the town from the advancing German Army and turned the tide of that terrible war.
The anniversary of this battle is a reminder to us all, that the best way that we honour the diggers of 1918 is by supporting today’s servicemen and women, the veterans and their families.
It’s such an important point to make; we best honour all of that history, all of that sacrifice across the lake by supporting the men and women who are keeping us safe today and who have kept us safe, the veterans, the servicemen and women and their families. That is how we best honour that extraordinary legacy.
Now we ask our soldiers, sailors, our airmen and women to shoulder a heavy burden for our country. So it’s right that we do all we can to support their transition to civilian life.
Tonight showcases a wonderful partnership between the private and the public sector to highlight our veterans’ worth in the workplace.
It’s been a wonderful first year of the Veterans’ Employment Program, and I want to thank all of you who came on board so quickly. You’ve given us the great start we needed and now it’s time to build on that momentum.
So to all those Australian businesses that haven’t yet signed up — don’t let your competitors get the jump on you! Join us, and reap the rewards that come from employing our veterans.
I want to thank you all for your leadership in veteran employment.
I congratulate all those who have been nominated for awards tonight.
And I urge all businesses across our nation to follow your lead, to recognise the leadership, the ingenuity and the experience of our veterans community, and make the most of this extraordinary Australian talent.
Thank you very much.