ADF veterans who put their lives on the line for Australia face battle to find work after service
HE was good enough to put his life on the line in Afghanistan but when he got back to Sydney last year, Will Lewis couldn’t even get a job pouring beers.
“It was disappointing to find that I struggled, with even hospitality turning me back,” he said.
The former rifleman is one of the 30 per cent of 5500 servicemen and women who leave the defence forces each year who end up unemployed.
This statistic is revealed in an alarming report to be released today by WithYouWithMe, a company that matches veterans’ skills with new careers.
A medical discharge increased the likelihood of unemployment, but veterans with no medical problems still faced a jobless rate of 11.2 per cent, almost double the national rate. Those who did find work faced an average 30 per cent drop in income from their ADF wages.
After a few weeks sleeping in a swag on Warriewood beach, Mr Lewis, 25, found work and is now a bar manager in Dee Why. He’s now refining his skills to find a career more in tune with his abilities.
The Veteran Employment Report also highlights underemployment, with 19 per cent of veterans underemployed in jobs beneath their abilities, estimating the cost to the economy at $130 million a year.
Former bomb-dog handler and two-tour Afghanistan veteran Corporal Brett Turley was in that position when he left the army in 2013.
The 30-year-old found himself working as a personal trainer in Wollongong, but is now a consultant with recruitment firm Randstad Australia.
“I asked myself, ‘Do I want to be doing this in 10 years?’ … I wanted something more meaningful,” he said.
The Veteran Employment Report analysed Department of Veterans Affairs and ABS data on more than 20,000 people who left the ADF between 2012 and 2016, and the experiences of WithYou-WithMe participants.
Former lieutenant Tom Moore founded the program last year because of his own frustrations when he left the army in 2015.
In Afghanistan he led a 60-man combat team but on returning he secured just 15 job interviews from 100 applications and had no luck.
“I was told I didn’t have the right experience, but the problem is you don’t know what you can do and neither do they,” Mr Moore said.