Kylie: I joined the Royal Australian Navy as a Steward, 3 months after my 17th birthday. I spent 12 and a half years in the Navy. Being posted to many different ship’s in that time, My favourite being HMAS Sydney. I loved every second of my service and would be still doing it today. But I decided I need to put my family first. It was a hard and scary decision. I didn’t know anything but school and the Navy.
I discharged in August of 2014, the end of maternity leave. I didn’t attend the transition programs, as I moved out of the Sydney area to the Central Coast, also a bit hard with a new baby to attend. I really wish that I did go to them. Then maybe I would of known how to write a better selection criteria or even better know what one was.
I didn’t start looking for work till December 2014, then I had my first panic attack and was later diagnosed with PTSD. My first thoughts were great who will hire me now. For the next 7 months I applied for job after job, getting interviews, but not hearing back. I thought maybe I need to lower what I expect to do, so I started applying for all different types of jobs cleaning, fruit picking, public toilet cleaner, cook at a daycare, anything that was going on Seek in my area, I sent my resume in. Then one day, at the end of June, out of the blue, I got a phone call about a job from a recruitment agency. It was for washing fruit bins, as shift worker at a business called Agrana Fruit, I didn’t care, I got a job.
I washed the bins like they were for CO rounds, worked hard and asked questions, lots of questions. Two weeks later, I believe my Supervisor saw something in me, so he moved me to the cook floor and I started to get trained up. Three months later, I got offered a full time job with Agrana Fruit, as a Production Cook, I said yes.
I’ve been full time now for 15 months, in that time, I’ve learnt what a RDO is, that I bundy on and not peg on, it’s not brew break but smoke’o and that its not so hard. I have a great mentor as a supervisor, who I was open and honest with, I told him straight up, that I have PTSD and what to expect. He has been kind, understanding, laughed with me when I’ve slipped up and used Navy jargon and happy to share his wisdom of not only how to be a Agrana Fruit employee, but how to re-enter the civilian world. I look up to my supervisor, as not only a mentor but a friend as well.
I realise that the only place I can go from where I am is up. So I try hard everyday, ask questions and know that I can make it as a civilian in my new found career.
My tips for exiting the Defence Force include:
1: Do the transition programs
2: Join your local RSL. They have not only left the Defence Force before, but they still make you feel connected to it in a small way.
3: It doesn’t matter where you start your new career, no one will judge you. At least you have a job.
4: Be open and honest with your bosses, they might surprise you.
5: Have fun. Its a new start in life. Remember how scared you were in Recruit School, it got better. This will too.
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