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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3520 ..

with places like Townsville and Darwin, it is one of the places in Australia with the largest veterans population. Within that 26,000 there is great diversity, reflecting a wide range of people and needs, with different backgrounds, experiences, employment pathways, and at different stages of life. In promoting and protecting the interests of veterans in the ACT, it is important that this diversity is appropriately recognised and supported.

One of the things that have been emphasised to me, as minister for veterans, is the importance of the transition of people into civilian life, to find a new purpose. Our veterans have a wide range of skills that are highly valuable to many private and public sector employers.

On this matter, I am pleased to be able to speak about the outstanding work that the ACT government has done, and continues to do, to attract and retain veterans in the ACT public service. The ACT government Veterans’ Employment Strategy was developed in 2018, which aims to make the ACT public service a leader in the recruitment and retention of veterans and their partners.

In September 2020 the strategy was updated to target increased recruitment, networking and information-sharing for veterans. This is a win-win. Veterans develop new and exciting pathways, enabling them to use their considerable skills and, hopefully, develop new ones. The ACT public service, and therefore the Canberra community, gain talented and committed public servants.

There is strong evidence to indicate that the ACT public service is an employer of choice for veterans and that the ACT government Veterans’ Employment Strategy has been successful. Recent data indicates that 236 ACT public service employees, or one per cent of the total ACT public service workforce, identify as a former ADF member. In fact, employment data shows that veterans are 49 per cent more likely than non-veterans to be successful in gaining a job in the ACT public service.

Employment data shows a significant rise in the employment of veterans over the last two years, correlating with the implementation of strategies to attract and retain veterans in the ACT public service. In the past year, 2.6 per cent of all people commencing employment in the ACT public service were veterans. Over the last five years, employment data shows conclusively that veteran employees have a higher retention rate than non-veteran employees.

It is not just the data that supports the idea that the ACT government has made great progress in attracting and retaining veterans. In recognition of the steps the ACT public service has taken to support veterans in transitioning to civilian life, the ACT public service was awarded the 2020 Veterans’ Employer of the Year for Public Sector Organisations in the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards.

I believe we should all be proud of this work. However, it is far from job done. We can do more, and we can improve on this positive start to further strengthen our position as an employer of choice for veterans. I was discussing this with the federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Andrew Gee, only last week.

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