This project will create an Australian-first tertiary credit mapping framework for assessment and recognition of military training within university-level studies. This will be achieved by assessing Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) within the ADF Initial Employment Training and promotion courses within a Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) framework. This will enable Veterans to have their ADF Record of Service assessed for CPL during entry into university studies, ensuring that Veterans receive tangible benefit for, and comprehensive recognition of, CLOs achieved under the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) within the Defence Registered Training Organisation (RTO). This will enable accelerated graduation timelines, where appropriate, in recognition of learning achieved through ADF courses completed during service.
Project outcomes will be made available to all Australian universities, ensuring project outcomes benefit current and future Student Veterans across Australia.
This project recognises the complex needs of the Younger Veteran cohort throughout, and following, transition. This project also acknowledges a labour market which increasingly demands professional qualifications to gain meaningful employment.
It is estimated that almost three in four transitioned ADF members have met the criteria for a mental health disorder at some stage in their life (DVA, 2018). This rate (almost 75%) within the Younger Veteran community far exceeds that of the general population (approximately 45%) (ABS, 2009). Veterans have an increased risk of mental health issues: depression, anxiety, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and somatic problems.
The unemployment rate among Veterans is as high as 30%, approximately 5 times the national average; and 19% of Veterans are underemployed (twice the national average). Unemployment and underemployment are further risk factors for the development and exacerbation of mental health problems.
Approximately 60% of all ADF transitions are by members at the Private or Lance Corporal rank, and their equivalents within the tri-services (NSW, 2017). In 2015, 45% of transitioning members had served 4 years or less (DVA, 2019). Thus, it is not surprising that most transitioning members within the Younger Veteran cohort suffer a heightened risk of poor post-service employment outcomes. With separations occurring earlier in one’s ADF career, and predominantly at junior enlisted ranks, many transitioning members will not have completed all required training modules to receive a civilian qualification. This demonstrates the need for post-service education to improve employment prospects and mental and physical health outcomes. As the age of separation trends downwards,
the transitioning cohort has an increasing need for post-service education pathways to maximise their employment prospects and psychosocial outcomes in their lengthy post-service working lives.
In addition to improved employability, research shows that engaging with formal education in adulthood can be beneficial to learner’s mental health (Field, 2009; Schuller, Preston, Hammond, Bassett Grundy, & Bynner, 2004). These benefits include psychosocial support; economic benefits arising from enhanced knowledge and increased employability; and mental health benefits, including a reduction in depression, anxiety and loneliness (Mental Health Foundation, 2011).
The intergenerational benefits of education are equally proven; supporting Veteran post-service education has significant positive impacts for the Veteran’s family unit. Investing in Veterans’ education will have an impact on their children’s health and development, education and employment outcomes, and overall wellbeing into adulthood (Kaushal N, 2018).
However, transitioning Veterans experience several barriers to university education. One such barrier is the difficulty in obtaining academic credit for training undertaken during their ADF service. To support Veterans to complete university studies, and to provide pathways to post-service education, a mechanism must exist to assess and recognise learning completed within the ADF.
The outcome of this project, an RPL framework, will provide scaffolding for the realisation of a tangible benefit derived from ADF service; connecting service to university study and employment outcomes. Such a mechanism is critical to support veterans at risk of mental health disorders during the vulnerable transition period.
Funding provided by DVA, Supporting Younger Veterans Grant | $240,000