Issue 9
Monday, 04 November 2019
Charles Darwin University
Dr Sue Shore and Research Project Officer, Hannah Taino-Spick are undertaking research to increase support for younger student veterans
Dr Sue Shore and Research Project Officer, Hannah Taino-Spick are undertaking research to increase support for younger student veterans

Networking towards a ‘military friendly’ institution

Charles Darwin University has tapped into Darwin’s defence community recently as part of a national project to increase support for younger student veterans in Australian higher education.

CDU has partnered with four other universities on the national project, led by La Trobe University’s Centre for Higher Education Equity and Diversity. It builds on previous research that found most student veterans were not identified within higher education institutions. Many felt the skills and prior learning they had gained during their defence experience were not recognised in the higher education sector.

A networking breakfast celebrated a refresh of the Australian Student Veterans Association (ASVA), NT. It will support student veterans and alumni, military families and researchers, and defence industry collaborators.

Student veterans, Leah Kite from the CDU College of Health and Human Sciences and Alex Nathan from the College of Engineering, IT and Environment, spoke of the challenges and opportunities experienced by student veterans.

CDU researcher Dr Sue Shore emphasised the importance of listening to veterans’ voices and building on the strategies CDU has in place as part of its mandate to engage a wide range of first-in-family, mature age, online and remote learners.

Research Project Officer, Hannah Taino-Spick said the processes for identifying student veterans in higher education needed improvement, recognising their unique strengths and supporting their wellbeing and success at university and that’s what the research was looking into.

Ms Taino-Spick is a Royal Australian Air Force veteran undertaking a PhD at CDU. Her research includes former serving personnel who served in the Australian Defence Force from 2001 and have gone on to university study after their discharge. She is exploring higher education as one solutions-focussed alternative for veterans.

“That’s one of the reasons why the Department of Veterans Affairs-funded project with La Trobe is so vital to CDU’s support for veterans and their families. The networking breakfast helped develop a joined-up approach as CDU strengthens its ‘military-friendly’ institution mandate,” Ms Taino-Spick said.

Soon ASVA will be joined by other initiatives including a CDU web portal with specific information on defence friendly initiatives, strengthening alumni and veteran links, and a CDU Student Group which will work together with ASVA.

“Now we have progressed the first stages of the NT ASVA chapter and are progressing partnerships between CDU’s internal departments and military stakeholders, we will have a stronger framework for exploring the student veteran experience to identify, support and advocate for student veterans,” Ms Taino-Spick said.