After one year, the partnership between an Australian veterans group and the Level Crossing Removal project in Melbourne’s south-east has helped a dozen ex-military personnel transition to civilian life.
Veterans in Construction – inspired by the Helmets to Hard Hats program in the United States – was co-founded in 2015 by David Cook and Dan Cairns to provide advice, mentoring, support, and connections for Australian veterans looking to get into construction work.
Many veterans can face challenges securing employment after leaving the military. The stated goal of the organisation is to is offer compelling avenues for returning personnel who are interested in construction careers and to encourage companies to see the benefits of utilising the abilities and skills of veterans, thus providing a path for their transition into civilian employment.
The collaboration, established in May 2017, has seen 12 veterans involved in construction work on the major level crossing removal project between Caulfield and Dandenong. The partnership is the first between Veterans in Construction and a major civil infrastructure project.
The candidates from Veterans in Construction have reportedly impressed supervisors with their work ethic and initiative on the build site, and many are expected to go on and continue to work within the industry.
One such veteran, James, who served in the Royal Australian Air Force in Iraq, said he was confident his experience on the project would help him continue to work in the construction industry in the long-term.
“I couldn’t have asked for a more exciting role on the project,” James said.
“There are a lot of core skills that are transferrable between the military and construction but sometimes you need a push in the right direction to help you transition.”