Following eight years in the ADF as an infantryman, Chris transitioned into a role as a Corrections Officer at Mobilong Prison. Whilst Chris’ transition into a civilian job was seamless, he struggled to find the same degree of meaning and purpose in his role as he previously had in the ADF.
Chris became aware that a number of the prisoners he was guarding were veterans, so he independently undertook researched to understand the number of veterans in the South Australian prison population. From this research, Chris recognised a need for co-ordinated support for veteran prisoners and led the establishment of a Veteran’s Support Group at Mobilong Prison. This group commenced as a peer support group, but evolved to provide a link to services for specific needs such as emergency housing, careers, legal support, family support, DVA claims and advocacy. The primary focus of the group is to give veteran prisoners the best opportunity to maintain the values associated with being a veteran. Thereby assisting with the reintegration of prisoners who are veteran into the broader community, a benefit to all.
Chris is continuing to work with Executives from the South Australian Department for Correctional Services to influence the roll out of a state wide Veteran Support Program for veteran prisoners and veterans on community-based corrections orders.
Chris is committed to assisting fellow veterans to be positive members of the community, be proud of their service; and to instil values of pride and honour through identification as a veteran. “Thanks for believing in me that I’m more than a criminal” – said Veteran T, on his release from prison. “I needed something positive to do with my time…I don’t know how I’d have got through this with your support” – Veteran C, after successfully securing a job whilst on home detention.
Chris is a member of the South Australian Veterans’ Advisory Council and the Young Veterans – Contemporary Needs Forum.
Chris’ transition tips
- Don’t underestimate the value of the lived experience you’ve gained in the ADF.
- In the ADF, when we request something and don’t receive it, we generally carry on and make do. After transition we must be prepared to follow up on things which may take some time to resolve. Know where to find help and don’t be afraid to seek it.
- Be prepared to view your ADF experiences through new eyes. The eyes of a young warrior see things very differently to those of a father, partner or someone who’s older and wiser.
- You may find you remember your ADF experiences differently to your old mates over time. There is nothing wrong or abnormal about this. Chances are they feel the same way.