Alison McIlveen is the National Military Account Manager at IPAR. The occupational rehabilitation service works with Australians to improve their health and employment opportunities, and the organisation has a long history of assisting Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel to transition to civilian life.
Anyone who is experiencing a change in their health or employment circumstances may find themselves referred to one of IPAR’s offices around the country. A number of those referrals are for serving or transitioning Defence Force personnel who need some guidance and practical support to improve their health and job prospects.
“For current serving military personnel, we provide services to increase or maintain optimal work capacity so they can perform their duties in the ADF. For transitioning members, we provide group workshops and one-on-one coaching to assist with health and employment goals during the transition period and beyond military service,” explains Alison.
“A veteran may be referred to our service and face multiple barriers – maybe they have a physical or psychological heath condition, they are facing financial hardship, a relationship breakdown or they may be relocating. They may view their employment prospects as low and approach civilian employment with quite a lot of trepidation.”
IPAR’s group workshops assist ADF personnel or veterans to develop a market-ready resume. They are coached on how to write an effective application letter, how to prepare for an interview, what to expect in an interview and how to look for the job they want.
“Many of them might have joined the Army at 18 and haven’t had any employment experience beyond the military, so we give them an idea of key things to be across,” says Alison.
IPAR also provides skill development opportunities to help veterans build confidence to engage in the job-seeking process.
“A proportion of ADF members face some challenges when transitioning such as loss of identity. Often their identity is strongly tied to their role in the ADF community, and being removed from that community can result in a real loss of who they are,” says Alison.
“In the ADF it is about the ‘team’ and when they leave the ADF the focus shifts more to them as an individual. That lack of a sense of fit disconnects them from the world they know and where they belong.”
IPAR has hired veterans to ensure services are veteran-centric and embed a genuine understanding of their experiences and needs.
“That instils confidence in veterans who like to work with organisations that have a sense of understanding or appreciating the nuances and challenges they face,” she says.
Veterans inform how we deliver meaningful and useful services and they have educated our business about ADF culture and structures, what it is like to be a military member and their key common experiences. That influences how we approach services for veterans.”
Alison says it can sometimes be a challenge for veterans to recognise the abundance of valuable skills and experiences they might have, which can be attractive to prospective employers.
“They are highly disciplined and motivated, conscientious, reliable and dependable, respect hierarchies, follow instructions and are team oriented but can also work independently. Many also have a range of skills and knowledge acquired through multiple roles during their ADF life. And they demonstrate a strong commitment to organisational values,” she says.
“We work through the barriers and help them achieve what they want to achieve beyond military service. These are people who have chosen a career to serve the Australian community and who may then have been impacted by that. To help those individuals then rebuild a future is very rewarding.”