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Monday, 3 December 2018
Page: 12331

Mr WALLACE (Fisher) (12:39): I move:

That this House notes:

(1) that the Prime Minister and the Minister for Veterans' Affairs launched the Prime Minister's Veterans Employment Commitment (VEC) on 2 November 2018;

(2) that the VEC is a way for businesses to pledge their support for veterans' employment and provides veterans with a way to easily identify those businesses that recognise the skills, experiences and capabilities they bring to civilian workplaces;

(3) that hiring veterans is good for business and encourages all Australian businesses to sign the VEC and hire a veteran;

(4) that the second annual Prime Minister's Veterans' Employment Awards will be held in March 2019;

(5) that the awards recognise:

   (a) businesses of all types and sizes that employ and support veterans and spouses of current serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) members; and

   (b) the significant achievements being made by veterans in the workplace along with those who have built on their ADF experience to start up or take on a successful business; and

(6) the ongoing efforts of the Government to improve the support and services available to the men and women transitioning out of the ADF.

The Prime Minister and the Minister for Veterans' Affairs launched the Prime Minister's Veterans Employment Commitment on 2 November 2018. I want to take this opportunity to thank all men and women who have served this nation in uniform, whether they're currently still in uniform or whether they have left the service.

I've spoken on many occasions in this place and in the House about the mental health of veterans and the challenges that many of them face when they leave the service. I want to concentrate more today on the community's obligation to help veterans transition to civilian life. I've often talked about the fact that, when men and women are serving in the military, one moment they're flying, driving or sailing multimillion-dollar and sometimes multibillion-dollar equipment, and, when they discharge from the military, many of them have great difficulties in finding employment. It's the age-old saying: 'Idle hands make the devil's work.' When you're not engaged in meaningful employment, your self-esteem drops. There is nothing like having a good, solid job that enables you to pay the bills and contribute to our society. It's the feeling that you get from contributing to your society—that feeling of having to get up in the morning and go to work. It's that routine.

In my role as a parliamentarian, I've spoken to many service men and women about this issue. It's that loss of tribe, that loss of purpose, when men and women discharge that this employment commitment tries to overcome. I hope the member for Solomon is going to back me up on this, and I'm sure that all men and women in this place, particularly those who have served, feel very passionately about this. We need to concentrate on the positives. We often talk in this place about the challenges in relation to the mental health of discharging veterans. But that is a double-edged sword. I'm concerned that the more we talk about the mental health of veterans the more we almost set up an expectation, particularly in our younger veterans' minds, that, if you serve in the military, it's going to impact upon your mental health. It's almost as though there is a perception that it follows as night follows day. We've got to stop the expectation that, if somebody has served in the military, they are a broken person. Our veterans are highly skilled, highly motivated individuals who can add such a huge and different dimension to workplaces.

I'm throwing out the challenge today to employers across the nation. The next time you want to employ someone, make it a veteran—man, woman, doesn't matter. Make it a veteran. You will not regret it. You will find a person who is absolutely focused on the team, whatever the team might be, whether it's selling insurance or laying bricks. If you employ a veteran, you are showing that veteran that you care. But it's not about charity, because it's not about what you can do for them; it's what they can do for you and your business. They will add a different dimension, a different quality. You cannot buy loyalty. Veterans will bring a great degree of loyalty to their role in working for small business. It is up to us—it's not just up to government; it's up to all of us as Australians—to pull together and support veterans in employment.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Vamvakinou ): Can I have a seconder, please, for the member's motion?

Mrs Prentice: I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.