At BAE Systems Australia, we are extremely proud of the brave men and women who have served our country and are grateful for their sacrifice. Since 2015, BAE Systems has been partnering with Soldier On, as they work side by side with those who serve and protect Australia and their families. This partnership combines financial support, in-kind donations and ongoing employee fundraising and volunteering initiatives. Recognising the benefits of this external support service for veteran employees, BAE Systems Australia formed its own Veterans Advisory Committee (VAC). Mat is one of those who led the initiative of the VAC. A veteran himself and former CEO of Soldier On, he is now working in Business Development at BAE Systems. Mat says the VAC was created as he saw a need for BAE Systems Australia to be able to provide a voice and ongoing support to veterans and their families who work within the business. ‘We wanted to facilitate a culture that really embraces the strengths of a veteran’s workforce.’
‘We wanted to facilitate a culture that really embraces the strengths of a veteran’s workforce.’
As well as providing ongoing support to veterans at a peer-to-peer level, Mat also recognised that it was important to assist veterans as they navigate their way out of the Defence force and transfer into a civilian workplace like BAE Systems.
‘We wanted to be at the forefront of assisting veterans as they translate their skills and experiences to be relevant in our business. Often when these men and women come out of the Defence force, they don’t know how to translate their skills, experiences, expertise, and character traits to be relevant in a civilian setting.’ ‘…A lot of people, especially those who have served for a significant part of their life, only know that service and there are so many new things that they need to encounter when joining a civilian workforce like ours, that we would probably take for granted. Having the VAC there as that point of contact can help that navigation.’ Having had extremely close ties with the Australian Defence Force industries for decades, establishing a Veterans Advisory Committee within the company to provide this support for employees was a natural process for BAE Systems. ‘What we’re trying to do is to say that when you join our ranks in BAE Systems you are just as a part of the overall defence and national security enterprise, as you were when you were in uniform.’ ‘Instead of being on the frontline, you’re playing key roles to develop the future ships and weapons systems, which are still so important and essential to ensuring that the men and women who are on the frontline are able to do their jobs.’ This support which the VAC provides to the 500+ veterans within the company is needed now in 2020, more than ever.
Mat, along with many others, has encountered and seen through his own eyes the effects of serving and the mental burden and toll it can take on some. Having lost some of his classmates from the Australian Defence Force to suicide, he says acknowledging the problem is the first step: ‘I’ve seen up close the impacts that the service can have on men and women, both really closely with my friends and then with Soldier On. I’ve seen firsthand these strong men and women who I always looked up to and idolised almost become a shell of themselves.’
Hoping to make a difference, the Committee, which consists of nine other veteran employees within the company, has worked hard to ensure there is a strong membership base within the company which includes both men and women and their families from diverse backgrounds: age, culture and military experiences. Having this broad range of members involved ensures all veterans who join will receive the ongoing support they need.