A former soldier transitions to law
Meet 30-year-old Trevor Morris, a former soldier who has taken the first step in his journey to becoming a lawyer through Flinders University’s Military Academic Pathway Program.
Trevor dreams of one day sitting on a court bench but not so long ago he was based in the Middle East as a member of the Australian Defence Force.
He spent five years as a rifleman in 7RAR and patrol commander in the 7th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment. He was then tasked with being a ‘Guardian Angel’ – providing force protection to Australian soldiers in Iraq – before deciding his next pursuit would be a legal career.
‘I wanted a better career with improved options for both my lifestyle and income,’ says Trevor. ‘I’m aware that having a degree, or any sort of education, is the best way to progress and transition from a military career.’
Last year, 26 military veterans, including Trevor, embarked on Flinders University’s Military Academic Pathway Program (MAPP) – a free, four-week intensive program available exclusively for military personnel seeking to qualify for a wide range of Flinders University undergraduate degrees
The free program is specifically designed to assist military personnel transition successfully into university, both academically and socially. After completing the program veterans can apply to a range of undergraduate degrees at Flinders.
Covering a wide range of academic skills development, such as writing and research, the program also highlights Flinders’ online learning tools, engagement with support services, linking with peer mentoring, and academic advocacy.
‘It was a great program that quickly and effectively injected the relevant information that I needed to begin my studies at university. Because of the program, I don’t struggle or squirm at the thought of an essay, a thesis statement or anything else,’ says Trevor.
The 2019 pilot for MAPP was made possible through a $157,000 Supporting Younger Veterans Grant from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, announced by Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester during a visit to the Bedford Park campus early last year. Recognising the success and value of the program to veterans, the University has committed to continuing the program.
The MAPP includes a project officer to run a support program and peer group that can provide relevant and integral transition, study and lifestyle support for younger veterans, with access to expertise in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), mental health, and drug and alcohol support.
Trevor says the short timeframe of MAPP is particularly appealing. ‘Soldiers transitioning out of Defence and looking at attending a foundation course for six months is something they dread. A program tailored for veterans that is just four weeks long is a very effective strategy in appealing to veterans.’
Pro Vice-Chancellor, Learning and Teaching Innovation, Professor Deborah West (MSW ’96, PhD(SS) ’03) says Flinders University is committed to supporting members of the defence community transitioning out of service and exploring their education pathways.
‘The Military Academic Pathway Program is designed specifically for Defence members and veterans to support them to succeed in their academic studies.
‘Veterans bring with them a range of skills and knowledge that are incredibly valuable to society. We want to ensure these are recognised and that members can use them to build the next stage of their educational and career development.’
Trevor is now in his first year of a Bachelor of Law and Society, a degree focused on developing a new generation of legal practitioners with tech-savvy skills.
‘My military career helped nurture the self-discipline that now enables my commitment to study, absorb information and to ask for help when I need it,’ says Trevor. ‘It also developed other skills like punctuality, respect, flexibility and confidence, which will help me maintain the discipline required to reach my study and career goals.
Flinders Military Academic Pathway Program
Prior service in the Australian Defence Force is a pathway to a Flinders University degree. MAPP is open to Australian Defence Force veterans, including personnel still serving, those in the process of transition, and for people who have already left the military. The next intake in October 2020 will be available online. MAPP at Flinders