Student high flyers honoured at ACU veterans awards

Having traded service in the “green” for service in a paramedic’s uniform, Stephen Powter has signed-off on his Australian Catholic University journey as a recipient of the Sir Peter Cosgrove Impact Award.

General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK AC (Mil) CVO MC (Retd) was at Melbourne’s Plaza Ballroom to present the award named in his honour, and to recognise the achievements of others at the university’s Student Veteran Impact Awards. 

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Zlatko Skrbis lauded the recipients, both for their military service and their efforts to make a difference after transitioning out of the Australian Defence Force.

“The challenges that veterans commonly face in making the transition into civilian life are significant — but they can be overcome,” he said. “At ACU, our vision is to stand with our veterans, to support them and give them opportunities to manoeuvre onto positive post-service pathways where they can succeed and thrive – and this vision is already becoming reality.”

The awards aim to recognise continuing and graduating student veterans who make significant contributions to the university and wider community. 

Nominees can also be recognised for community engagement such as SES, volunteer, fire rescue, homelessness support or social improvement programs. 

Academic benchmarks, including a minimum GPA of 5.5, are among the criteria required for awards. 

Stephen served for five years in the ADF as a forward observer. In 2020, he enrolled in a Bachelor of Paramedicine at ACU, identifying it as the profession that most matched his skills and interests.

“I knew I wanted to do something in healthcare, to help people and to be challenged, and I guess the thing that brought me into paramedicine was that little bit of an adrenaline rush it has,” he said.

In addition to his study, Stephen worked part-time for ACU’s Student Veteran Services, and volunteered at Emmanuel City Mission, a homeless shelter that caters to up to 100 homeless people in a day.

Another graduating student veteran and reservist, Jai Hoffman (Bachelor of High Performance Sport), was recognised for managing the well-being of soldiers in his unit, implementing various health programs that provide therapeutic value to soldiers, and volunteering with Surf Lifesaving Queensland.

Returning to study has its challenges for ex-soldiers who can battle loss of identity and purpose in addition to the physical and mental scars levied by years of military service. 

ACU’s Student Veteran Services programs help remove obstacles to study and empower veterans’ success by providing admission pathways and a support network to ease their transition to civilian life. 

Student Veteran Impact Awards recipients

Sir Peter Cosgrove Impact Award

Stephen Powter (Bachelor of Paramedicine)


Damien de Pyle (Bachelor of Arts), Ryan Shaw (Bachelor of Busines (Admin)


Jai Hoffman (Bachelor of High Performance Sport)

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