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Monday, 3 December 2018
Page: 12332

Mr GOSLING (Solomon) (12:44): I thank the honourable member for Fisher for this private member's motion on a very important topic. The Prime Minister's Veterans Employment Commitment that we've just heard about is a step forward, and the Minister for Veterans' Affairs is to be commended for his efforts to assist veterans. I attended the Prime Minister's Veterans' Employment Awards presentation, and I was very encouraged by the promise of the words that were spoken on that evening, obviously inspired by the veterans that we heard from.

It's very important that businesses appreciate the skills and experience that veterans can bring to their business. As the member for Fisher just said, after ADF members leave the forces, they can bring core values and critical skills to the workplace: professionalism, loyalty, integrity, courage, innovation and teamwork—all essential also to good business. However, I also think there should also be more emphasis on assisting the veterans themselves to be more ready for jobs as they transition into civilian life. Around 6,000 ADF members transition every year from the ADF into civilian street—civvy street, we used to call it—and a significant proportion of them remain unemployed. When you consider the values that they could potentially bring to businesses, that's a big loss. That transitioning cohort represents, I think, one of the most underutilised segments of our economy. Sometimes veterans may not understand the civilian application of the skills that they already possess, so we must work, in a bipartisan way, with veterans and their families to prepare them for meaningful post-service employment.

To speak from the current federal opposition's perspective, but in no way to make this partisan, a Shorten Labor government will commit $121 million to a comprehensive veterans employment policy to provide greater support to our Defence personnel as they prepare themselves for the job market. Labor's plan will help our veterans into good jobs by doing more to boost recognition of their inherent and significant skills and experiences. We'll provide eligible businesses with training grants of up to $5,000 in order to help veterans gain the skills and experience they need to move into a civilian job, and we'll fund an education campaign on the many benefits of employing veterans and on their translatable skills. Employment and transition services to provide better tailored and individualised support are also part of our commitment, and we'll make sure that veterans receive recognition of those prior skills and experience by civilian professional organisations and institutions. That is what we on this side are committed to.

As for my electorate, we'll invest in the health and wellbeing of our veterans in the Top End by establishing the Scott Palmer Service and Veterans' Support Hub, a centre dedicated to providing support to our current and former Defence service personnel and first responders, and their families, including this important transition to civilian employment. It is a good investment, and I thank my friend the member for Kingston for her support for my electorate and the Northern Territory in that commitment. As I said, there will be assistance with finding employment. It will be a true hub. It is named after Private Scott Travis Palmer, who, tragically, lost his life on operational service in Afghanistan. Recently I met with one of Scott Palmer's 2nd Commando Regiment comrades, Dallas Hodgetts, from ex-service organisation the Shield Academy, and he reminded us, 'Hiring a veteran is not just a patriotic act; it is a shrewd and profitable business strategy.' I think that's important and that's why I wanted to repeat it. That is from a veteran who is helping other veterans get into work: 'Hiring a veteran is not just a patriotic act; it is a shrewd and profitable business strategy'. I commend to the House this motion on helping veterans into employment.