Victoria Cross recipient Mark Donaldson has called on more Australian businesses to employ veterans after the prime minister launched a new jobs scheme in Sydney.
Westpac, Allied Express and Saab were among the early companies to sign up on Friday to the federal government’s Veterans Employment Commitment.
The scheme identifies businesses capable and ready to hire, train and retain former military personnel.
Currently, about one in 12 ex-service men and women are still unemployed more than a year after leaving Defence.
Mr Donaldson, who now works as a strategic development specialist and defence advisor for Boeing, said his own switch to civilian life presented challenges.
“Sometimes you don’t realise it at the time but it can be a real step change in culture, it can be a real big change in day-to-day routine,” the retired corporal told AAP on Friday
“You’re no longer around close, trusted people or all on a shared mission.”
But he said the biggest challenge was just getting that initial chance at employment.
He said businesses – presented with several job applicants boasting professionalism, leadership, adaptability and other skills – could trust ex-Defence personnel actually possessed those qualities.
“They are the things that are bred into you and that you instil in yourself and throughout your team,” he said.
“In Boeing, we like to say veterans make us better.”
Mr Donaldson joined Prime Minister Scott Morrison in a visit to professional installation firm tech2, which employs several former Defence workers to build the NBN.
“We are putting veterans first,” Mr Morrison said.
“We are ensuring that we are dealing with not only memorialising those who have fallen but we are serving those who are living.”
The jobs scheme comes just days after the prime minister announced the rollout of a retail discount card for returned service men and women.
The government is also funding a $498 million expansion of the Australian War Memorial.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs will be tasked with ensuring businesses meet their obligations set out in the scheme and companies will need to recommit every two years.