Leaving the military is a significant life changing event for many ADF members and their families. Below are some stories from members who have recently transitioned from the ADF and into civilian life. They share their experience and advice around transition.
|Former members from 2021||Former members from 2020|
Able Seaman Nathan, who was born and raised in Penrith, worked casual odd jobs until he decided to get himself a career.
“I joined the Navy as an electronics technician and maintained the communication and navigational systems on board the Guided Missile Frigate (FFG) warships,” said Nathan.
Nathan completed close to eight years’ service before he decided to transition.
“I had always planned on doing 10 years in the Navy but when my partner Kate and I decided to get married just as I was due to go back to sea, I decided it was time to put my partner and family first.”
“The transition process is quite an experience. Initially I found it hard to find someone to talk to about it as my colleagues who had been through the experience had already left and many of those who remained had not even looked at the process,” explains Nathan.
“Going through the ADF Transition Centre made everything simple and I can’t recommend enough that anyone even thinking of transitioning should go to them— sooner rather than later,” said Nathan.
Nathan’s transition coach laid out everything he needed to do, and in what order. “She constantly checked up on me and was always just a call or email away if I ever got stuck or needed more advice.”
Nathan has transitioned to the Reserves and to a Defence public service role— testing and certifying missiles.
“The job is great and the work is very interesting— we always have something to do. I would recommend looking at Australian Public Service jobs for anyone thinking about transitioning.”
Going from a two hour train ride each way to work, to a six minute drive with traffic has given him more time to focus on the things that matter.
Nathan noticed that when he decided to transition he did have some people question his decision, but points out that, “it is your life and it is up to you if you wish to continue to serve or if you want a change.” Staying in the Navy Reserves means he can still provide service, just in a more flexible way.
“It is a great idea to do your research before you put in the paperwork. Know your entitlements and give your local ADF Transition Centre a call. Your assigned Transition Coach will be your biggest source for help and support.”
Lieutenant Remy is no stranger to career changes. He recently transitioned from full-time service to the Army Reserves, where his military career started.
Remy grew up and studied in Canberra before joining the public service as a network engineer. He then moved to Melbourne and joined the Army Reserves in 2014.
“After almost a decade working in IT, I attempted a career change, and I joined the Victorian police force where I spent two years before joining the Army full-time.
“In 2018 I commissioned to the Royal Australian Corps of Transport until an opportunity presented to join 7th Signal Regiment in 138th Signal Squadron—the new Defensive Cyber Operations squadron,” Remy said.
In this role Remy planned and implemented the training and policy to underpin 138th Signal Squadron’s initial operating capability as a defensive cyber operations asset.
“Our training and knowledge was tested in 2019 when I led a defensive cyber operations team to victory at Exercise Cyber Flag 19-3 at the National Security Agency headquarters in Maryland, USA,” he said.
During 2020 Remy commanded a number of cyber operations, including a vulnerability analysis tasking and defensive cyber support to Operation COVID Assist.
He was the master of ceremonies of the Cyber Skills Challenge conference in 2019 and 2020, and is also the Secretary of the ADF Cyber Skills Association.
Following his transition from permanent service in the Army, Remy now works for the Australian start-up business, Internet 2.0. Remy undertakes reserve service with 138th Signal Squadron.
“I left because I felt I had delivered all the capability I had to provide. And for my own career growth, I needed to look outside of Government and Defence,” Remy said.
“I found the transition process rather easy because I already had employment lined up. I was also transitioning back to the Reserves, after only a few years, which meant I had the necessary life skills and tools.
“For those that have been in the military since leaving school, ADF Transition provides great support—with lots of programs available to support you as you transition to civilian life.”
Former Sergeant Shamiso’s medical transition from the Army opened up opportunities to take the experiences and qualifications he gained in the military and commence a new career.
He is currently employed as a Project Manager with Aspen Medical working across Commonwealth health programs in response to COVID-19.
“I enjoy working in challenging environments and I get to see the tangible results everyday – saving lives and preventing sickness,” said Shamiso.
A strong social purpose is something that Shamiso was looking for in a career as he considered transitioning from permanent service after 16 years full-time and three years reserve service.
Shamiso migrated to Australia as a child from Southern Africa and knows from experience that security and freedom are not ‘rights’ enjoyed by all people.
After a year at university studying a Bachelor of Social Work degree, Shamiso joined the Army Reserves and, in 2002, he decided to provide full-time service as an infantry soldier.
Shamiso has always been determined to make the most of all the opportunities available to him. Whilst serving he completed his Masters in Security and Strategy through ADFA’s post graduate program.
He started thinking about transitioning after his third and final deployment which was also the highlight of his military career and an experience he didn’t think could be topped.
His advice for other members considering transitioning is to take the initiative and engage with a transition coach early – before you make your decision.
“I initially started looking around for a government job or something related to my degree in strategy and security.”
Through ADF Transition he attended a Job Search Preparation workshop and completed a Birkman Method personality profile which helped him identify project management as his natural next career step. The workshop also gave him the skills he needed to develop a resume, job hunt, network and interview successfully.
“I think infantry commanders – of any level should consider project management. It really is the nature of our job – understanding the intent, planning, and directing troops to task in multi-skilled workforce. This includes promoting working together as a team, collaborating across services and in some cases - nations.”
Shamiso’ final posting was to Puckapunyal as an armoured vehicle Tactics instructor. “To ensure I was able to pass on my experience and knowledge to as many soldiers as possible, I worked around my injuries, in consultation with medical support, for as long as I could”.
Lieutenant Commander Errika was just 13 when she went to an Australian submarine open day with her father. From that moment, she knew she wanted to join the Royal Australian Navy.
“I was hooked,” she said. “I loved the environment—crawling through the submarine, learning about the equipment, and the excitement that being in the Navy seemed to offer.”
She finished high school and started university but could not wait three years to join as an officer, so she enlisted as a recruit sailor in 1987.
“I was selected to be an officer candidate during my recruit training. I successfully passed my selection board, undertook officer training at HMAS Creswell and received my Commission from the Governor General in August 1988.”
Errika’s career as a supply officer was thrilling and challenging. Among the highlights, she remembers representing her team at ceremonial events during Australia’s bicentenary celebrations, leading logistic teams during joint exercises Kakadu and Kangaroo, and working on ship-building projects to deliver hydrographic ships, submarines and related support equipment.
“After 12 years of service I transitioned to the Reserves. Since then I’ve worked in Defence industry specialising in the design and production of military logistic systems and support equipment,” said Errika.
Today, she is a self-employed logistics consultant. She is also the lead for the Submarine Institute of Australia’s UnderSea Outreach project and works to inspire young people to consider Navy and the Defence undersea industry.
She has also undertaken Reserve service.
“I recently completed 2 years full-time as the Supply Manager of the Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) sustainment office. We prepared HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide for humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations. I also served on operations in the Middle East Region.”
For Errika, the most difficult aspect of transitioning was letting go of the discipline and pride in wearing the uniform.
“The sense of pride is extremely strong when you’ve had the privilege to serve your country.”
Errika’s advice to other transitioning members is to seek connection with local community, and consider Reserve service.
“It’s been such an honour to return at this point in my life and offer my experience to the next generation. The Total Workforce System allows flexibility, with short and longer term roles all over Australia.
When former Warrant Officer Phillip transitioned from permanent service in January 2001, the process was very different to the one that he now assists Australian Defence Force (ADF) members to navigate in his role as an ADF Transition Coach in South Australia.
Phil left school after Year 11 to work on the South Australian Railways. In 1980, at the age of 20, he got itchy feet and decided to join the Australian Army as an infantry soldier.
“My first posting was to a parachute battalion, so I certainly did my fair share of jumping out of perfectly good aircraft,” Phil said.
After 21 years, and postings all over Australia, Phil decided to leave the Army and transition to the Army Reserves.
“By then I had done everything I had set out to do in the Army, but was only 40, with a lot of living left to do. I would have loved to have had access to the advice, support and resources that are available for members today.”
Phil initially found employment in public service. He resigned after 7 years to have a go at running his own small business in the hospitality industry, which was a very tough gig.
In 2011, 10 years after his transition, Phil’s wife Amanda alerted him to a job advertisement for a ‘Transition Officer’ with the Department of Defence. He applied and won the position.
“I am employed as a Transition Coach and have been managing the ADF Transition Centre in South Australia for a couple of years now.”
“The Defence Force Transition Program has gone through a huge transformation in the last few years. We have moved from providing purely administrative assistance to providing each transitioning member with a qualified career development coach.
“This means we can now provide the tools transitioning members and their families need to reach their post-transition goals. Another change is that we now provide this support to members for up to 2 years after their transition.”
According to Phil, the most important aspect of a successful transition is being proactive.
“Your ADF Transition Coach will guide you through the process and help you to connect to ex-service organisations who provide support to our members post-transition.
“Members and their families need to give themselves enough time to experience the full transition process. The more you can do while you are still in the ADF, the easier you will find your transition when the time comes.
“I love my job and I love helping current members transition to civilian life. One of the best feelings I get as a coach is when a transitioned member expresses their gratitude for the coaching and guidance they have received during this sometimes nerve-wracking time in their life.”
For former RAAF Corporal Chris the idea of transitioning from full-time service was initially quite terrifying. It was all he’d known for eight and a half years and the ADF played an instrumental role in his development.
Chris joined the RAAF when he was just 18 years old, after growing up primarily in the Blue Mountains in NSW.
“If you asked me back then why I wanted to join the ADF I’d have said: escape, adventure, and independence. But looking back now it provided me with a base and the stability to grow in experience and self-confidence,” explains Chris.
Chris’ first posting was to RAAF Williamtown where he worked on the Classic Hornet’s armament systems. He had a few trips during this time but his most enjoyable was a relief manning trip to Darwin, with Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD).
Chris was hooked and once he got back he spoke to his Flight Sergeant about transferring to EOD and successfully received a posting to Sydney in 2018.
While he was in Newcastle Chris met his partner Abbey who changed her plans to attend university in Melbourne and instead accompanied Chris to Sydney and attended Macquarie University.
Chris took a posting and promotion to RAAF Base Edinburgh, and he and Abbey left Sydney. Despite the support and encouragement of his squadron, in late 2020 he decided it was time for him to transition to civilian life.
Chris is currently working as a freelance graphic designer specialising in book covers and branding – a ‘hobby’ he had developed over the years.
“Although I sort of fell into the work by accident, I am thoroughly enjoying the nature of the job, as well as the change of pace and autonomy.”
Chris said the main advice he would offer to anyone considering transitioning, is to make sure you’ve exhausted all options available to you in the military first.
“Ensure you are on the same page as your partner about where you both want to be in life, and then just trust in the process of transitioning and take the leap.”
Chris is toying with the idea of studying teaching, but for now is loving the extra time at home with Abbey and their two dogs.
It’s been a time of great change for John, a former Australian Army commando. Since medically transitioning in 2019 he has completed a degree, become a father and started a new job at the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
Originally from regional NSW, John and his family have settled in Sydney, where he was based for most of his military career.
“I enjoyed my time as an Army cadet in high school, but it wasn’t until I was 20 and saw General Cosgrove on the news talking about the special forces direct entry program that I decided that was what I wanted to do,” explained John.
“The program required more intensive selection and training. It’s designed to fast track you from a civilian to a commando in about 24 months.”
He was accepted into the program in 2004, but his was not such a ‘fast track’ due to a shoulder injury acquired during training that required surgery.
John was then posted to 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR), and completed his training at the School of Infantry. While at 3 RAR he was deployed to Iraq and the Solomon Islands, but he never lost sight of his goal. In 2007, he applied for the special forces again.
“I just did what I had to do and finally made it to 2nd Commando Regiment (2 Cdo Regt).”
During his time in 2 Cdo Regt, John completed two deployments to Afghanistan. During the second deployment, his patrol vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED). John sustained injuries that ultimately meant he was no longer able to be a commando and led to his eventual medical transition through the T4E (Transition for Employment) program.
“I got in touch with Nahren, my ADF transition coach early on and she put me onto T4E, which made the experience a lot easier. She held my hand through the whole process and put me in touch with the right people who helped me with résumés, job applications and interview techniques.”
Since transitioning, John and his wife have welcomed twin girls, John has finished his degree in security studies, and he recently started his new job in physical security management at the ATO.
John’s advice for others facing a medical transition is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
“I felt a little lost at first. As I drove out the main gate I thought, ‘What now?’
“I was initially unaware of the great support that was available to me, and I would have been lost without it.”
After 12 years’ service in the Air Force, Flight Lieutenant Paolo has transitioned to civilian life and self-employment.
Paolo, who was born in Italy and immigrated to Australia as a child, grew up on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria and attended Frankston High School.
“As a teenager I was passionate about aviation, particularly military aviation,” explains Paolo.
So while studying Aeronautical Engineering at RMIT he went through the Defence recruitment process and was offered an appointment as an Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force.
Paolo started his career in 2009 at RAAF Base East Sale and, after years of study and training, graduated as a Weapon Systems Officer on the F/A-18F Super Hornet.
Fast forward a few years and postings, in June 2020 Paolo attended an ADF Member and Family Transition Seminar in Brisbane and was connected with an ADF Transition coach. He said the planning session with his coach was very useful and explained what services and support were available.
“I decided to transition from permanent service to pursue my interest in the family business and to provide more stability for my young family,” said Paolo.
Paolo, his wife and two children have settled in Brisbane where they now run a furniture and leather repair business.
“We are enjoying the flexibility that comes from working for ourselves, as well as the satisfaction of building and growing the family business,” Paolo said.
Paolo’s advice for members thinking about transitioning is to talk to those who have gone before you.
“Often the only thing holding you back is the fear of the unknown, especially if Defence is the only industry you have worked in since leaving school,” said Paolo.
“Be proud of your Defence career as you transition and use the experiences and skills you have gained to your advantage in your new endeavours.”
Former Leading Seaman Chris joined the military because he wanted to challenge himself and travel the world.
“As a marine technician in the Navy, I specialised in air conditioning and refrigeration, so I guess you could say that my job was pretty cool,” he laughed.
The highlight of Chris’s career was being named Sailor of the Year in 2018 for maintaining the highest standard in his role as Damage Control Yeoman.
“The biggest challenge was being away from home for such long periods of time. 2020 was particularly difficult because I was away for 10 months of the year,” said Chris.
“My wife and I managed by communicating every chance we had and keeping faith that we’d be back together again soon,” explained Chris.
A good friend advised Chris that he should get a dog for his wife, to keep her company during their time apart.
“It turned out to be genius advice. This is how we ended up with our lovely little rascal Minti, who is now a very big part of our family.”
Chris joined the Royal Australian Navy in January 2013 and while he had intended on serving for 10 years he decided to transition in January 2021.
“I can say, for sure, that I found and married my best friend. This helped me realise just how much family means to me. While the Navy was providing me with a great career, I wanted to be available to spend more time at home with my wife,” Chris explained.
Chris has kept up his trade and now works as an air conditioning technician.
He found his ADF transition coach extremely helpful in advising the steps he needed to take for a successful transition to civilian life.
“In terms of advice, I would say that leaving the military was not exactly easy, but if you go into it with a positive attitude and patience then it is a cake walk.
“Something that I didn’t understand at first is that you’re not the only one going through a transition. It took me a while to realise that everyone was busy, and while they may not be able to provide instant answers as to where your paperwork is at, they are there to support and help you.”
Leading Seaman Roger joined the Royal Australian Navy in July 1968 to escape Alice Springs and to travel the world.
Now 51 years later, he has retired from permanent service and is enjoying the transition to civilian life.
“At age 16, landlocked Alice Springs wasn’t where I wanted to be. I figured the Navy would feed, clothe, shelter and even pay me,” Roger explained.
“I flew to Adelaide for my entry exam and on successful completion travelled by rail to start my adventure at HMAS Leeuwin as a junior recruit,” he said.
Over his career Roger served 37 years at sea on over a dozen ships, including patrol boats, amphibious vessels, destroyers, frigates and an aircraft carrier.
Roger has been deployed to 14 operations and has been decorated for service in conflicts from the Middle East to Vietnam. His deployments were a mix of multinational, flag showing and humanitarian exercises.
“I loved my time in the Navy and will miss all the amazing experiences and people I worked with.
“I travelled as far as Hawaii in the east, South Korea in the north and the Mediterranean and Middle East in the west.”
Roger was awarded the Conspicuous Service Medal in the 2008 Queen's Birthday Honours List for meritorious achievement as a Communication and Information Systems sailor.
In 2018 he was awarded his third Federation Star for 50 years’ service. In June 2019 Roger retired from his military service.
“Mine has been a gradual and smooth transition to civilian life and I have been very well supported by the Navy and ADF. They were so good and quick to act to ensure I was medically fit and healthy before I transitioned.”
Roger now lives in Melbourne and shares his home with a good friend, which has been a lifesaver for both of them during the pandemic.
While he missed being able to travel and catch-up with his friends, after so many deployments he found lockdown relatively easy.
“I made the most of the 5 kilometre radius rule to walk daily and I continue to use the exercise plan developed by my physio 6 times a week.”
Roger encouraged other ADF members to take advantage of the ADF Member and Family Transition seminars.
“You should actually look to attend a couple of seminars over your career—one earlier on and then again as part of your transition. They provide insight into what support and assistance is available to you.”
Roger also found the transition interviews with his coach very helpful in assisting with the shift from service to civilian life and retirement.
His advice to other ADF retirees is to keep fit and to stay in contact with as many friends as possible.
“Travelling for reunions and catch-ups is my favourite thing to do. Retirement is too precious, there is not a chance I’d waste mine by not enjoying it,” he said.
Tim, who grew up in Tasmania, was keen to take on a trade after finishing school but was finding it hard to find employment.
At nineteen he was working in a hardware store and found himself driving past the Hobart Defence Force Recruitment office every day.
“One day I decided to go in and see what jobs were available,” he said.
The enlistment process happened very quickly.
“It was only a couple of months later that I was signed up, packing my bags and leaving home for my initial training.”
During his nine months at HMAS Cerberus Tim completed his marine technician training and made some great friends, a few of whom he still considers his best mates four years later.
After his initial training Tim’s first posting was on HMAS Canberra, one of the Landing Helicopter Dock ships.
“For three years I worked in Fleet Support conducting maintenance on ships and other items in the workshop. My last posting was at HMAS Waterhen in Sydney.”
Tim chose to leave the Navy after four and half years to try something new.
“I decided to use the skills I had gained in the Navy and move to Western Australia to continue working in my trade.”
Tim was surprised at the amount of support offered to him during his transition.“My transition coach has been amazing. She helped me all the way through to the day I transitioned and continues to help me now.”
Tim’s coach connected him to all the support services available through the Defence Force Transition Program including assistance to recraft his resume, provided training in interview skills and assistance in his job search.
“She also recommended I sign up to Soldier On’s mentoring program, which helped me gain the confidence I needed to apply for jobs in Perth. It is great to know that help is only a phone call away.”
Tim’s advice for other ADF members transitioning from permanent service is to “say yes and take all the help you can get. You never know, you may discover a skill that you never knew you had.”
Tim will soon start working in the ship building yard in Henderson, Western Australia, where he has moved with his partner Rhianna.
“Rhianna has always been a great support to me when I was away from home and now we are both looking forward to building our lives together in this exciting new chapter,” said Tim.
After eight years in the Navy former Able Seaman Clearance Diver, John is grabbing his board and heading back to the beach.
Originally from the coastal town of Lennox Heads, John joined the military so he could serve Australia.
“I was, and am, very patriotic. I always wanted to be a clearance diver – to prove to myself that I could pass the test and training,” he said.
Clearance divers in the Royal Australian Navy are highly skilled and trained to employ specialist diving capabilities in a variety of roles, often from land and sea, in support of amphibious operations.
John worked in maritime explosive ordnance disposal and was deployed to the ‘battle tanker’ HMAS Success for two years.
The highlights of his career include diving around Christmas Island at night while on Operation RESOLUTE and doing reconnaissance diving on a rebreather at midnight, swimming through swarms of effervescence.
John transitioned from the Navy in January 2020 for medical reasons and now lives in southern Sydney with his partner and young children.
“We went through some tough times as a family in Defence but I always remained committed to my family and hung onto the knowledge that I would see them all soon.”
John most misses the mateship and comradery of being in the Navy. “Also the lifestyle and that I was essentially paid to keep fit,” he said.
“I recently qualified as a surf coach and am loving it! Growing up near Ballina and Byron I have always loved to surf. Early this year I was offered the opportunity to work as a surf guide in Fiji but unfortunately COVID came and blew away those plans. I am waiting for confirmation that it is back on for next year.”
John will soon be starting his Certificate 3 and 4 in personal training to broaden his skills so he can get work in the health and fitness industry as well as surf training and coaching.
John’s advice to other members looking to transition is to trust the system.
“There is so much support and many cogs turning in the engine room when you are transitioning. You just need to let things take their course naturally.”
“I’ve got a fantastic support network around me at the moment. It’s made up of my partner Lizzie, my ADF transition coach and my rehabilitation case manager. I also have my physiotherapist, psychologist and psychiatrist who are all helping with my medical care.”
“For this reliable and helpful support network, I am very grateful,” said John.
Leading Seaman Medic Carly always had a passion for healthcare but as an 18 year old school leaver she didn’t feel ready for university. So instead in 2006 she decided to join the Navy as a Communication and Information Systems sailor.
She excitedly set off on her military career which saw her posted to HMA Ships Darwin, Manoora and Success following her training at HMAS Cerberus. After eight years she still felt drawn to healthcare and transferred to become a medic.
“On completion of my medical training, I served in HMA Ships Yarra, Parramatta and Newcastle before posting ashore to the Maritime Safety Bureau where I worked in occupational hygiene,” she said.
For three years, Carly studyied nursing while working full-time, including two deployments, and also being a mum to two small children.
“I decided to move on from my full-time military career so I can be more present in my children’s lives and progress my nursing career.”
Carly’s transition began a year earlier when she and her husband Brendan were talking about where they would like their children to grow up.
“Newcastle was the place we chose so we could be closer to both our families. We always missed the family support whilst living in Sydney, particularly when I was away on deployments.”
Once Carly graduated from university she began looking for work as a civilian registered nurse. She transitioned from permanent service in January 2021 and took on a role as a civilian registered nurse at RAAF Base Williamtown.
“This role will allow me to use my military experience and my clinical skills to continue to support ADF members while having a more balanced lifestyle for myself and my family.”
Her advice for other ADF families considering transition is to sit down together and write out your goals for the next five years and see if the ADF can help achieve those goals.
“If not, investigate your next step. Find somewhere you want to live, find work, a good school and your type of housing. These are all important considerations to make, to help your transition go smoothly.”
“My 14 year career in the Navy has been incredibly memorable and rewarding, and I am so blessed to have had a wonderful support team behind me, particularly being a mum at sea. I will certainly miss serving fulltime in the Navy and all the wonderful people I have served with, but I am very much looking forward the next chapter in my career.”
A desire to serve her country and do something other than a normal 9-5 job led Brittany to join the Air Force when she was 17 years old.
Brittany, whose parents met in the RAAF, attended the Australian Defence Force Academy at the start of her journey to become an Air Combat Officer.
Serving on the P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft she worked her way up from navigator to coordinating missions as the tactical coordinator.
“The highlights of my ADF career would be my involvement in international and multi-platform exercises, as well as assisting in search and rescue missions around Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH-370,” said Brittany.
In December 2019, after 12 years of service, she decided to transition to Reserve service, to pursue a career in law.
While studying law, Brittany is experiencing a different side of the military in her reservist role as Military Transition Support Officer (MTSO) and transition coach in her home state of Western Australia.
“My service knowledge is growing due to the tri-service nature of the MTSO role. I work across all bases, units and barracks in WA helping other ADF members navigate a successful transition to civilian life,” Brittany said.
Brittany’s advice to other members thinking of transitioning is to talk to a transition coach before you come up with your transition plan.
“I was unaware of all the support that was available to me prior to my own transition. So reach out to your local transition centre early, even if you are only considering transitioning. Their transition coaches can help you come up with a plan that compliments your intentions.”
She also points out that it is your transition coach who, based on your needs, can refer you for more intensive assistance such as career coaching and access to other transition benefits like training and financial advice.
Brittany and her partner welcomed their first child in December 2020.
It was his passion for mechanics and a desire to serve his country that motivated former Able Seaman Adrian Thomas to join the Navy as a marine technician, straight out of high school.
‘My job was to operate, monitor and service the engineering equipment on board the ships,’ he explains.
Adrian sailed from Hobart to Sydney the day he joined his first ship, which was quite a thrill for him.
‘Not knowing anyone and having to sleep amongst strangers on a warship was a little nerve wracking for a 17 year old. But once I learnt how supportive and helpful the crew were it made all our port visits very memorable,’ said Adrian.
Originally from the Gold Coast, Adrian’s service ended earlier than he had planned due to medical reasons and he transitioned into civilian life in August this year.
‘Even though it was tough at times, I will really miss the culture of the Navy, and belonging to the big Navy family.’
“I had an abundance of help from several service providers and some very caring and supportive people guiding me through the transition process.”
“My passion for operating machinery had not subsided so I used the Defence Force Transition program funding to get the excavator, bobcat and loader licences I needed for a role in the earthmoving industry.
Adrian is currently working on the Western Sydney Airport Bulk Earthworks project and has never been more satisfied.
‘It’s another great job where I get to operate enormous machinery. The pay is great, the safety standards are excellent, the team are supportive and I get to go home every day.’
Adrian was single for the majority of his service but acknowledged that for his ‘oppos’ (or ship mates), being away from home was one of the biggest challenges of military life.
His advice for others facing their transition is to make the most of the support and services available to prepare you for civilian life.
Bradley joined the Navy in 2006, completing nearly 14 years’ service in the ADF before medically transitioning in August 2020. He now works for Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling as a community and peer advisor.
‘After my initial training I joined HMAS Arunta. Whilst serving in Arunta I deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) for Operations Catalyst and Slipper and returned to the MEAO 11 years later for Operation Manitou, whilst serving in HMAS Ballarat,’ explains Bradley.
In between his deployments Bradley spent three years in Darwin conducting Operation Resolute patrols and had postings to Sirius and Toowoomba and completed several multi national maritime exercises.
Bradley and his wife have three children and currently live in Baldivis in Western Australia. When talking about highlights and challenges he refers to ‘our ADF career’.
‘I say our as it has been my wife Jackie who has kept our family stable throughout our time as an ADF family. Of my 14 years in the Navy, I spent 10 of those years being posted to ships, so I was coming and going a lot,’ said Bradley.
‘Each time Jackie helped me settle back in at home and re-engage with the kids. With her help we adjusted as a family to build resilience and always move forward.’
Bradley applied this proactive and positive attitude towards his transition to civilian life. He worked with his transition coach to understand what he was qualified to do and initially pursued a safety role in the mining industry.
‘While applying for safety jobs I applied for a role with Open Arms – a role I thought I wasn’t qualified for. Just as I was about to accept another job, Open Arms offered me an interview and I was soon notified that I’d been successful.’
‘I love my new career. I wake up every morning happy and I put 100 per cent into everything I do. It has given me an opportunity to be my true self and help veterans in need of support.’
‘Through my lived experience in the military and my own mental health battles, I can help guide people to the right resources for their journey to wellness, or transition to civilian life,’ he explains.
Bradley’s advice for those transitioning is to be positive in moving forward.
‘Employers love military personnel. We are well trained and have a ‘get it done safely’ mentality. If however you feel that you are spending too much time dwelling in the past, talking to someone may help.’
Open Arms is available to all serving members, veterans and their families. Call them any time on 1800 011 046.
As a country high school teacher, providing career advice to his students, Michael felt he had to practice what he preached and explore the career opportunities offered by the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
“I would promote the Defence Force to my students as a great pathway to learn new skills post schooling. So I looked into the opportunities the Army was advertising,” said Michael.
Michael enlisted in the Army in 2014 with the Royal Australian Engineers.
As a Combat Engineer Michael provided capability support to infantry and armoured units. In 2019 he posted to the School of Military Engineering as an Initial Employment Training Instructor and served there until his transition in February 2020.
“The highlight of my career was definitely the people and teams I worked with in Sydney and Darwin. I really enjoyed the open, inclusive and honest work environment that comes from working everyday with your mates.”
Originally from Gunnedah in NSW Michael is now back in his home town working for the local Shire Council as a Project and Asset Manager. He decided it was time to leave the military after his son was born.
Michael’s new job allows him to use many of the valuable skills he gained in the Army. He conducts maintenance inspections on Council-owned buildings, plans for infrastructure upgrades, monitors compliance requirements, issues licences and leases and develops maintenance plans.
“The most enjoyable aspect is the variety of my daily tasks and the different areas I get to visit and monitor within the Gunnedah Shire,” he said.
Michael said the ADF is such a wonderfully unique workplace and it may be hard to find a civilian job that can match all of those wonderful parts of a Defence member’s career.
For Andrew, who joined the Army straight out of school, his transition from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is a chance to reconnect with the broader community and be closer to his family.
Although he originally wanted to be an infantry soldier, Andrew ended up choosing the logistics stream.
“I never looked back from that decision and served for 12 years providing logistic support for artillery regiments, support battalions and special operations,” Andrew explains.
Andrew first thought about leaving Defence after his return from a six month deployment. He thought at that stage he had done everything he wanted to do in the Army.
It was his next posting, as a technical quarter master within Special Operations Command, which placed his plans on hold for another three years.
“Providing support to Defence special operations was definitely the highlight of my ADF career.”
It was after this posting that Andrew decided to make the transition to civilian life. His initial plan was to look into carpentry as a career option after Defence, but the COVID-19 situation and the thought of having his pay cut, led him to look into other options.
He secured a position as a warehouse shift supervisor at logistic company BCR in Brisbane.
“It is a base level management position, supervising a team of 12 and enables me to work on my connections before climbing the corporate ladder.”
Andrew sees his transition from the ADF as an opportunity to reconnect with the greater community and to perhaps grow a family of his own.
“By moving to Brisbane I will be closer to my family who live in Maryborough. As a single man, with no pets, partner or children, this is important to me.”
Andrew’s advice to other ADF members thinking of transitioning to civilian life is to identify your milestones and develop a plan. For Andrew, his first milestone after filling in his transition paperwork was finding a job.
“After this I secured an apartment — which unlocked the location for the removalists. Take a good look at what you need to do, think logically and make a plan,” he advises.
“Also, seek out information to help make informed choices. While I didn’t get to attend a transition seminar, my coach says I have had one of the smoothest transitions. I could not have done as well as I have, if I was not on the phone to my ADF Transition coach every week.”
After a military career in both the British and Australian Army, Wayne is preparing for the adventures to continue as he transitions to civilian life. He has been actively engaged in diving and boating courses in order to gain employment in the diving and tourism industry.
Wayne took the time to carefully consider and prepare for his June 2020 medical transition from the ADF. He first approached his local ADF Transition centre in North Queensland at the end of last year to work through his options.
“Keeping in mind my medical conditions, my rehab consultant, medical officer and a local training organisation in Townsville have all supported me to gain accreditations so that I would be more competitive for recruitment post-transition,” shared Wayne.
Wayne said Defence has supported and encouraged him to enhance his transferable skills and identify opportunities.
“My ADF Transition coach provided great advice, encouragement and has been able to connect me with all the right people. I have been able to get funding through the Defence Force Transition Program to do an advanced scuba course and hope to work at the local dive shops as an instructor – health permitting,” said Wayne.
Coming from a long line of military families on both sides, at just 16 years old Wayne joined the same British Army Regiment that his father had belonged to – the Royal Regiment of Wales. His first posting was as a corporal and adventure training instructor to the Army Youth Team. This was followed by various roles as an instructor and trainer.
“At the end of my 25 years of service in the British Army, I was successfully selected for a lateral transfer to the Australian Regular Army in June 2010, with the rank of sergeant.
Wayne was posted to the School of Armour as an assistant instructor. He has also been a team leader at the Combat Training Centre (Jungle Training Team) in Tully. His final posting was with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment as the Battalion Motorization Warrant Officer.
After living all around the world and across Australia, Wayne and his wife are now living just out of Townsville on a small block of land. They have two daughters in their early twenties, and the whole family enjoys keeping fit, rugby union and league and of course, scuba diving.
Zoraya dreamed of being a wedding gown designer and even went to fashion college after high school, before being inspired to join the Navy at age 21 after seeing the ‘7 Days in the Navy’ advertisement on TV.
‘I wanted something exciting in my life and had always been very patriotic,’ said Zoraya, who joined as a Writer, or Maritime Personnel Operator as it is now known. She completed multiple deployments, representational postings and ceremonial activities and said she got to do some amazing things.
‘My proudest achievement was being deployed to Afghanistan on two very busy roles and being awarded a commendation from the Commander for my efforts,’ she said.
She also deployed into the United Arab Emirates and performed in a band that travelled to different camps to raise the morale of Australian and International troops.
But, after a very busy 10 years in the Navy, Zoraya transitioned out of the ADF in March 2020.
‘My decision to leave the military did not happen quickly or easily. I finally made the decision to leave when I felt I had achieved everything I wanted to do.’
‘Although my Command were very supportive, leaving the ADF seemed like a really scary thing to do until I met with my ADF Transition Coach.
‘The first meeting was incredibly beneficial. We spoke about things I hadn’t thought of and she helped me hone in on things I really needed to.’
The former Leading Seaman has secured a quality assurance role in Sydney, still very much supporting Navy but as a civilian.
The move allows Zoraya to continue her creative interests outside of work. She is a dance instructor and performer who is currently producing a pageant in support of the Sydney Veterans Lodge.
Zoraya’s advice to anyone considering or currently transitioning from Defence is to be proactive and ensure you have a real plan around what you want to do next.
‘As military members, we have a sense of purpose and pride. Once you leave, you need another purpose – not to replace what you felt you worked for in Defence, but to give your civilian life meaning too.’
When Pat applied to join the Air Force after high school, he didn’t get in. But he ended up having a stellar military career, culminating in his appointment commanding 44 Wing, and has just transitioned into a top civilian role.
“I was manifestly unprepared for the initial training, let alone a career in Defence!
“I completed TAFE courses at the local aero club and did a lot of work experience at the Townsville Air Traffic Control tower before I successfully reapplied when I was 19.”
Pat’s career included many postings and a deployment to the Middle East, but he says the highlight was commanding the School of Air Traffic Control in Sale, where he helped to generate the Air Traffic Controller workforce of today.
“My life has turned out great, which I attribute to my wonderful wife and our life together,” said Pat.
Over the last five years, Pat said Defence supported his training and education, largely funding his tertiary education through the Defence Assisted Study Scheme.
“I completed a Masters in Strategy and Management, which was great for providing a formal qualification to match the leadership and management experience I got in Defence.
“I had a wonderful career in Defence, but at the mid-point of what turned out to be my final posting, we decided to look for a life beyond Defence.”
Pat and his wife attended an ADF Member and Family Transition Seminar together and made the most of the training offered during his transition.
“I particularly valued the resume preparation and the interview-technique training.
“It helped organise my thoughts from almost 30 years of military service into answers that would have meaning to civilian employers.”
Pat is now the CEO of the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator, which synchronises the flow of coal from local mines to power stations and to vessels for transport to Asia.
“I understand that it’s not the popular narrative, but I’ve learned that coal remains essential for keeping the lights on across Australia.
“I’ve also learned that the skills and experiences we accumulate in Defence, particularly leadership and resilience, are highly transferable to civilian workplaces.”
As far back as she can remember, Kyla had always wanted to join the Army. But it wasn’t until her mid-20s, that she made the move.
“One day I just found myself calling the Army Reserve number and booking myself in for the initial assessments,” said Kyla.
After basic training, Kyla marched out of Kapooka and into a Reserve unit on the Gold Coast. It was on an exercise in Shoalwater Bay, where Kyla watched the medics working, that she knew she wanted more.
“I knew, if I was going to make a real go of being a medic in the Army, I had to make some life changes. This is where the Australian Defence Force (ADF) gave me the direction and support I needed,” Kyla said.
In 2004, Kyla transferred to Royal Australian Army Medical Corps as a reservist and applied to Griffith University to complete a Bachelor of Nursing.
“After I deployed on Operation Resolute with 8/9 RAR, I applied for a position as a graduate nursing officer, with the support of some naval officers I worked with and my commander,” said Kyla.
Kyla enlisted as Lieutenant and was posted to the Health Support Battalion and the next eight years, as a full-time Army nursing officer, was a dream come true. Then, in 2019, Kyla decided it was time to move on to a new stage of her career.
“It was a decision I anguished over but I’d completed all my career courses and felt there was really nothing more I could give the Army. I knew there was a whole world of opportunity out there for me too,” said Kyla.
Kyla said the idea of transition was initially very daunting, but quickly found the transition coach, seminars and support systems very helpful.
“Members need to give themselves plenty of time,” said Kyla.
“When you know your transition date, make an appointment with your transition coach and book in for a seminar to get information on military and civilian support services.”
Kyla is now based in remote Queensland and, despite the challenges, is enjoying her new career in rural and remote nursing.
“The level of health care I am able to provide within the multi-disciplinary teams in the middle of nowhere is mind-blowing,” said Kyla.
‘Kowanyama has an amazing history with some lovely people and I can use the clinical skills, confidence and experience that my time in the Army gave me.”
Former Squadron Leader John says he’s sad to leave the Air Force after 30 years as a navigator, especially after dreaming about flying as a child. But his new civilian career is ‘out of this world'!
The C-130 Hercules Air Mobility Officer has spent the last 14 years in the RAAF after coming to Australia as a UK lateral recruit with his wife. He’s had a great career including a deployment to Middle East and Afghanistan in 2001 and four Falkland Island tours.
John said he’ll miss Australia, and the shared history and mateship of the RAAF, but plans to stay in touch with friends he’s made over the time he’s been in the ADF.
“I have no regrets. I’ve loved my job and the voyage of discovery my service life has been, but like everyone else my priorities have changed over the years,” he said.
“As a family, we’ve managed deployments and postings, but the 2017 US posting has given my wife and children this opportunity where we’ve established a life and a home in New Mexico.”
John was in the process of transitioning and waiting to commence employment in US Space Command this May, when the outbreak of COVID-19 threatened to put a stop to his plans.
John’s family was already in the USA so he had to leave sooner than expected with borders rapidly closing to be with them. It was going to be a challenge, but John said Defence was able to adapt the support he needed.
“I’m incredibly thankful for the support and guidance of my transition coach in facilitating such a short turnaround for me,” said John. “I was pleasantly surprised by how flexible and well-structured it all was, considering the sudden change and the shortened timeframe.”
He said it’s been a lot easier than he imagined, even with the added complexity of international travel, the online coaching sessions across time zones, and getting his documentation organised by email made it so easy.
John and his wife are planning to purchase a home in the near future and settle down in the United States. Within the next few years he will be eligible for citizenship of what will be his fourth home country.
At the end of high school all Carly wanted to do was be a part of the Australian Defence Force—much to her parent’s surprise.
At the age of 18 she boarded the Australian Navy bus headed for HMAS Cerberus and went on to serve in the Navy for seven years as a Maritime Logistics and Supply Chain sailor.
Carly’s career saw her post to a number of locations around Australia and in 2018 she deployed to Operation Mazurka in Egypt. When she returned home she started to think about leaving the Navy.
“I decided it was time to leave as I had recently graduated with a Bachelors of Business – Logistics and Supply Chain Management and wanted to further explore the commercial aspects of supply chain management and challenge myself in a new industry,” Carly said.
Family have played a big part in Carly’s career and remain a key resource of support and encouragement. She said they have always been by her side in all the decisions she has made, especially the one to transition.
Carly is now working for Safran Electronics and Defense Australasia in Sydney. She is managing the strategic end-to-end supply chain planning and execution, Australian industry capability supply chain implementation and logistics support across a range of contracts.
“I am enjoying my new job as I have been able to easily translate and apply the skills and specialist knowledge I learnt in the Australian Defence Force to my new role,” said Carly.
A love for lifelong learning is seeing Carly study a Masters of Business Administration and also a course on viticulture, with the hope of making her own wine one day. Carly has also turned her hand to small DIY renovations on the house she has recently bought with her partner.
Carly’s advice to members transitioning, or thinking of transitioning, is to utilise everything you can to sell your skills and experiences and remember you are not alone in the process, reach out to family, friends, other veterans and your transition coach for support.
Melinda was looking for a fresh start away from her home town in Tasmania when she decided to join the Navy. She admits when she applied she had no idea about what it would entail or anything about life at sea.
She quickly learned all about Navy life and went on to serve her country for 12 years. Looking back at her career—half of which was spent posted to a sea-going platform—Melinda feels an overwhelming sense of achievement.
With a love of sport, Melinda maintained her connections with the netball community in each of her posting locations and is thankful for meeting some incredible people in the Navy who are now lifelong friends.
“I love being surrounded by people, and my family and friends are my world,” said Melinda.
But, with a partner also in the Navy and a young daughter, Melinda struggled with being away from her family during her last deployment to the Middle East. With another sea-going posting fast approaching and not wanting to say goodbye to her loved ones, she made the difficult decision to leave the job she loved.
Determined to try to find a new career with links to Defence, Melinda started looking for job opportunities that allowed her to use the specialist skills and training she gained in the Navy.
Her search led her to securing employment with DXC Technologies which provides simulation capability to Defence. Initially employed in a team that conducts verification and validation of systems, she has since moved into a project management role in Sydney.
“For members that don’t currently have a job to go to or the support of family or friends within their area, a transition coach will help alleviate the anxiety and doubt you may have about leaving Defence,” said Melinda.
“The options for employment assistance are excellent; I was blown away with the number of services that aid members during the transition process.”