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Student military veterans finding post-service career paths thanks to new entry pathway at ACU

Pathway open: Student veteran Nicholas Stanford at the launch of the ACU Brisbane Campus’ new entry pathway scheme. Photo: Joe Higgins

FORMING post-service career paths is at the forefront of Australian Catholic University Brisbane Campus’ new entry pathway scheme for student military veterans launched last week. 

In an Australian first, the new pathway scheme will make ACU the first Australian university to offer consistent entry requirements for veterans, regardless of state of residence and study.

The pathway scheme fits into the wider ACU Student Veterans Support Program.

Student veteran Nicholas Stanford is studying paramedicine and knows first-hand the challenges involved in transitioning from military life to civilian life.

“It was more or less just loss of structure,” he said.

Mr Stanford said every day and everything in your day was regimented in the army and discharging meant a loss of that structure.

He said he was lucky to have a few mates discharge with him who supported his decision to go into paramedicine study.

For Mr Stanford, the long-term dream was to work on flight helicopters as a paramedic.

But in the meantime, he was happy studying at ACU’s McAuley Campus and working at Story Bridge climb.

Mr Stanford said ACU Student Veterans Support Program didn’t just help with entry pathway, it extended to providing help wherever it was needed.

This help ranged from applying and enrolling, to timetabling and orientation, as well as academic, counselling and financial support.

Mr Stanford said meeting other student veterans was especially helpful because you could identify there were others who had gone through the same thing and that helped ease the transition.

He also praised ACU’s Student Veterans chapter and ACU’s first veteran administration officer Michael Addis, who spearheaded much of the veteran support work at ACU.

Mr Addis, who gave a speech at the launch, said he hoped these supports would continue to grow and spread awareness.

“I think the most attractive thing is that self-help is the best help and that’s what it’s all about,” he said. 

“Helping themselves study and get ahead – it’s not a handout, it’s just alleviating a few issues at the start.”

Deacon Gary Stone was also at the launch, and he said it was “awesome” to see so many young veterans at the event.

“It’s just exciting to think that veterans are engaged,” he said. 

“Veterans, after they leave the military, need a purpose in life and obviously for a lot of people that means needing to be retrained and getting an education for that. 

“So as veterans can come together and identify with each other and as a group (this) will help with the resilience for them to continue and complete their studies.”

Deacon Stone said most of his time was spent dealing with veterans who were in serious straits.

“(They have) all sorts of problems with their bodies, minds, their souls, their relationships,” he said.

“But a key thing for us is for people to find a positive life, and education is a pathway to finding that purpose and obviously getting the qualifications to start anew rather than continuing to be a victim of their circumstances.”

The pathway scheme will allow for adjustment factors following two years of military service; veterans are eligible to receive a Selection Rank in Queensland, NSW and ACT; these ranks vary for the same service.

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