ACU veterans advocate recognised with PM’s employment award

Creating, not just a pathway, but a home for ADF personnel at Australian Catholic University is the calling for Aaron Cornwall, who has won Veteran Employee of the Year at the Prime Minister’s National Veterans’ Employment Awards.

ACU’s Student Veteran Services manager has been honoured at the awards which recognise the tremendous impact former Australian Defence Force personnel can make in civilian life.

After commencing at ACU as an undergraduate, Aaron subsequently joined the university as a staff member and is now a prime mover behind a raft of programs that support the health and wellbeing of veterans and their families as they transition away from military service.

Since joining the team, the ex-combat engineer has contributed to ACU’s pioneering Veteran Entry Program (VEP) and Recognition of Prior Learning project which aims to support those transitioning out of the military by formally acknowledging rank and training completed during their service as part of the application process.

Aaron has been a key figure in driving the Veteran Transition Program (VTP), an initiative designed to support students along their learning pathway. He has also been a part of the Veteran Exercise Lifestyle Program (VELP) which provides access to health and wellness support.

More support projects are on the horizon, including Five2Study, a Department of Veterans Affairs funded app to coach veterans through their transition to higher education.

“It’s an honour to be recognised for what the team and I do every day, and that is striving to support fellow veterans and their families in accessing and thriving in higher education,” Aaron said.

The awards in Canberra showcased the talent within the veteran community, as employees and entrepreneurs, and recognised the organisations who actively recruit, employ and support veterans and families. 

“We’re very proud of Aaron who has helped build ACU’s veterans program over the last three years,” ACU director of Global and Education Pathways Marta Skrbis said.

“Aaron is a passionate and aspirational veteran whose work focuses on motivating and supporting ACU’s student veterans.”

As the only recipient from an education provider, Aaron’s award highlighted the importance of higher education for veterans.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the awards, now in their sixth year, sent a powerful message.

“The sooner we recognise the value of the contribution that veterans can make following their return from service, the better off our workplaces, our communities and our veterans will be,” he said.

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