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Live and learn with Pathways

A Soldier On Pathways employee sitting with a female in a suit in front of a laptop computer

In conjunction with Edith Cowan University, Curtin University, and the University of Adelaide, Soldier On recently placed six veterans into tertiary education scholarships, paving the way for a smooth transition from the military into a purposeful, meaningful and rewarding civilian career. 

“We are extremely grateful for the scholarships from these prestigious institutions,” says Dr Jennifer Brooker, National Education Manager for Soldier On. “The difference it’ll make to these veterans’ lives is phenomenal.” 

Learning is one of the four cornerstones of Soldier On’s services to veterans and indeed, the ‘L’ in Soldier On’s HELP model, with Health, Employment and Participation the other three letters in the acronym. As a part of its mission to help veterans thrive in civilian life, Soldier On can help Australian Defence personnel and their families get recognition for existing skills, gain new qualifications, build on current skills and explore new vocational areas. 

That is the case with one of this semester’s placements, Morgan Russell. Morgan, a former patrol commander with 3RAR, is the recipient of a scholarship for a double degree in Law and International Relations at Curtin University. Although already one semester in, Morgan was granted the Scholarship from Curtin University, which provides substantial financial support throughout the degree.  

Morgan advises anyone in the military to assess their options for higher education. “Life in Defence can be a bit of a bubble, and it is not until someone moves outside of that do you realise it’s genuinely possible to leave and then succeed on the outside,” said Morgan. 

Another veteran, Peter Waywood, is making even more of a radical career change thanks to Edith Cowan University (ECU). Currently a Spatial Analyst with a large engineering firm, the ex-Australian Army Engineer will begin a Bachelor of Youth Work at ECU.  Peter used to go to Youth Centres a lot as a young boy and was guided by a Youth Worker, who was a huge influence in his life. Peter wants to give back in the same way. He wants to work in the local community and make a difference.  

“Sometimes veterans want a complete change of direction with their career change. Just because they’ve done something in the military for a long time, doesn’t mean they want to continue that in the civilian world,” says Dr Brooker. “Your past doesn’t define your future.” 

This is undoubtedly the case with Indigenous veteran Owen Brady. A 12-year veteran of the Australian Army, Owen was an Information Systems Technician or “geek” as he terms it, but now he wants to change his career direction for something more meaningful. 

“It is my goal to become an Environmental Scientist and concentrate on regenerative agriculture,” says Owen. “I also intend to act as a role model, particularly for those Indigenous Australians who will come after me.” 

Through the University of Adelaide Supported Scholarship Program, Owen has begun studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Ecology and Environmental Science. It’s something he is very passionate about. “I intend to farm native plants for produce, back in South Australia. This, in turn, will allow me to reintroduce native plant and animal species to country.” 

“We work very closely with veterans to discover their passion and their life’s purpose,” says Dr Brooker. “And then to fit their life and personal goals to their education requirements”. 

One of the veterans, Stephen Bain, a Major in the Army, is a good demonstration of how Soldier On matches life goals with education. Despite being an officer in the ADF, Stephen’s a serial entrepreneur, having created several businesses over the last 20 years in the eco-tourism and tournament fishing space. Stephen introduced the new sport of tournament lure fishing to Australia in 1999, a concept that is seen by some as the biggest initiative ever in Australian recreational fishing. 

Thanks to Soldier On, Stephen has now received a scholarship from Curtin University to study for a Bachelor of Communications that will allow him to build and market his multiple business interests, while doing more research on marine life and sustainable tourism. 

“Stephen is a great example of how we align larger life goals with education,” says Dr Jen Brooker. “This makes Soldier On unique: through education and employment we try to help veterans live the civilian chapter of their life with passion and purpose.” 

To find out about scholarship opportunities with Soldier On education partners, contact education@soldieron.org.au.

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