Helping Australia’s veterans back to work

General Manager Australia, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence Read time: 3 mins
Supporting the employment of Australian service personnel and their families has long been one of our company priorities, but now, thanks to a new partnership with FORTEM Australia, we’re poised to broaden our efforts. Dirk Noordewier explains.
Fortem Australia
Today has been a busy day. Granted, all days are busy – but today has been particularly hectic. A non-stop blizzard of emails, meetings, WhatsApps – you name it. I’d planned to write this blog first thing but no such luck – evening has long since drawn in.
 
But here’s the thing – I know I am very lucky. Sure, I’m grateful to be here in Australia, a country which, so far at least, has been spared the worst of the pandemic. I’m grateful too, to work for BAE Systems Applied Intelligence and head up our business in this part of the world. But underpinning all that is the gratitude I feel for being able to successfully transition from serving 20 years plus in the Australian military to a new career in the private sector.
 
I have now been in the private sector for nearly as long as I was in the military, but despite the passing of these years, the one thing that has not changed is the challenges one must face when transitioning from public service to the private sector.
 

Stepping out of the uniform

There are a myriad of benefits to serving in the military, as a first responder, or in a national security agency. Teamwork and discipline, consistency of excellence and preparedness – the lessons gleaned from such service can absolutely help propel and strengthen the way one goes about his or her day in the business world.
 
But there are many challenges, too. It’s a bit like a professional sportsperson coming to the end of their career. Having previously had so much of your working life shaped by a clear structure, set routine and chain of command, you’re suddenly faced with taking life-changing decisions on your own and venturing back into a world very different to the one you’re accustomed to.
 
Obviously there are many factors at play here, including things like the length of service, the age of the person, their life experiences, level of education and so on. It’s particularly challenging for those who had endured some form of injury or trauma while in service – something far more prevalent for national security and law enforcement personnel than one might think – which can often make the transition an even bigger adjustment.
 
So, why is it difficult? Well, think about it. A veteran may never have written a CV or taken part in a civilian job interview before (my first and second job interviews took place about 21 years apart). It’s a different pace of life, and delivering a capability to a budget is fundamentally different to delivering products or services in a competitive market place.
 
Then there’s things like reconnecting on a human level with people who would have had very different experiences to you, not to mention readjusting to family dynamics and the challenges of “fitting in”. These are just a few examples – there are plenty more.
 
These issues paint a mixed tableau, one that shows that the change from government service to private enterprise can be anything but straightforward. And that’s exactly why the work of Fortem Australia is so important – and it’s why we’re so proud to be partnering with them.
 

Forward with Fortem

Fortem Australia works with national security and law enforcement personnel and their family members to enable a smooth, supported transition into the next chapter of their lives. They focus their support across two main areas: firstly, wellbeing activities and programmes concentrating on connection, resilience and family transition; and secondly, employment and other meaningful opportunities which look at preparedness, how to utilise current skills and learn new ones, and internships. And it’s this second area where BAE Systems Applied Intelligence comes in.
 
BAE Systems Australia is a proud employer of Australian veterans – more than 10 per cent of its 5000 strong workforce have served. The company is committed to supporting the military veterans and their families. Through our partnership with Fortem Australia, the Applied Intelligence business will expand our support of veterans.
 
While I am proud to be joining Fortem's Industry Advisory Council, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence will also establish a formal mentoring scheme led by myself and other senior colleagues from across our leadership team. In addition, our new secondment programme will enable Fortem Australia's participants to formally integrate into our business for a specified period in order to gain new skills and experience. And finally, we will begin an apprenticeship programme which will develop relevant skills supported through the Commonwealth Government digital workforce training programmes.
 
This type of activity – while different to our commercial work – is why I get out of bed in the morning. I want my fellow veterans to have the same opportunities as I have had, to be able to start anew, and use their abundant skills and experiences in exciting new ways and approaches.
 
We’re proud to be right there with them, shoulder to shoulder, as they step into their new life.
 

About the author
Dirk Noordewier is General Manager Australia at BAE Systems Applied Intelligence and a military veteran of Timor Leste, Iraq and Afghanistan
 

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Dirk Noordewier General Manager Australia, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence 26 August 2021