New Townsville Leadership Centre

Australian Catholic University (ACU) is bringing higher education to the doorstep of the country’s largest military community, with the establishment of a Leadership Centre in Townsville for serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and their families.

ACU Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Zlatko Skrbis announced the initiative in Townsville on Friday 1 July. Chair of The Oasis Townsville Lieutenant General John Caligari, senior representatives of the RSL, council and government representatives, and ACU student Private Tenille Carrick were among those in attendance.

Scheduled to open in October 2022, the new centre in Walker St, Townsville will offer an opportunity for ACU to connect with veterans, Defence personnel and their families, providing advice about higher education options and pathways to new careers, short courses, and in-person support for students studying online.

ACU was the first Australian university to establish a dedicated Veteran Entry Program that enables current and former members of the ADF to be granted a selection rank for entry to university based on their military training achievements. With the launch of the Student Veteran Support Program (SVSP) in 2019, ACU offers support services and academic resources, including the Veteran Transition Program to help veterans ease into university life. These programs and recognition of prior learning acknowledges a veteran’s service to provide entry into and credit towards a university degree.

The ACU Townsville Leadership Centre will be known for its education and support for Defence personnel and student veterans in North Queensland. The services provided will be an extension of the current SVSP.

To strengthen these areas, the university is dedicated to developing strategic partnerships, collaboration and funding opportunities across education, research, and engagement.

A new element of ACU’s activities to build a stronger support network for veterans and their families is a program of research that will explore the nation’s veteran service sector and how it can improve opportunities for those who are transitioning to civilian life.

This will include ACU’s collaboration with the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide on the mapping project designed to improve the Commission’s understanding of the nature of the veteran service sector. Further, it will examine how effectively the sector meets the needs of current and former ADF families.

ACU’s Industry Professor Veterans and Their Families Andrew Condon will be an advisor on the project which reinforces the university’s commitment to improving opportunities for transitioning veterans.

Through these activities, ACU has become recognised as a university that is committed to serving those who have served.

The following quotes can be attributed to:

ACU Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Zlatko Skrbis

“At ACU, we are committed to supporting Australia’s Defence personnel, veterans, and their families in becoming empowered members of our society.

“Transitioning from the ADF into civilian life can bring many challenges for those who have served, and for those who are close to them. One of the steps ACU has taken to address this is by creating a sector-leading set of entry pathways and support programs to help Defence personnel, veterans and their families enter tertiary education and succeed at university to gain qualifications for a new career.”

Industry Professor Andrew Condon, CSC

“Empowering veteran success has never been more important and it is both a great honour, and a binding responsibility, to contribute to a process that will lead to stronger and more accessible networks that support the lifetime wellbeing of veterans.”

ACU student Private Tenille Carrick (studying Nursing; Private in ADF reserves for 15 years)

“I love the program. I love the connection with other vets.

“When I got accepted into the course I didn’t tell anyone about it because I was sure I’d fail. I kept it under wraps.

“But the VTP was really helpful and it gave me a taste of what I was in for. It was a good introduction to academic writing.

“Unis didn’t offer that back in my day.

“Being part of that community exposed me to all the services on offer. A lot of times vets will just sit back and deal with it themselves.”

Chair of The Oasis Townsville, Lieutenant General John Caligari AO, DSC, (Retd)

“We’ve repeatedly heard the momentous challenges faced by ADF personnel, and their families, as they embark on transition.

“Removing obstacles in their path to lifetime wellbeing is critical, so we enthusiastically welcome this initiative that supports veterans towards fulfilling new careers.”

President of the Townsville RSL sub-branch Bill Whitburn OAM

“It is great news that ACU is supporting veterans in this manner. There’s so many challenges associated with transition so I think they’ve hit the nail on the head.”

Find out more about the Townsville Leadership Centre and the Student Veterans Support Program

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