In the lead up to ANZAC Day this year we’re sharing the stories of some of our veterans from across our business.

We thank all our Veterans for their commitment and service and are proud to be a veteran employer of choice with over 500 veterans and family members on the team.

We hope to help raise awareness of our veteran’s community across our Australia and New Zealand operations by shining a light on their stories and service. ANZAC Day is about coming together and creating strength through unity and diversity just as much as it is about commemorating the impacts of war and honouring those we have lost.  

John Rogers

Snapshot of Service:
Years of Defence Service: 21
Where they served: New Zealand, Australia, Former Yugoslavia, East Timor, South East Asia and the Pacific, US, UK Transitioned out in 2005

John Rogers was a serving member of the New Zealand Defence Force for 21 years. In recent years he has enjoyed a successful career in the private sector, which has led him to his current role as Executive General Manager of Defence for Ventia.

John and his team are working at the heart of Defence capability as a leading prime services integrator and top five Defence industry partner. The team is focused on ensuring Ventia enables Defence to focus on its strategic objectives by delivering essential integrated support solutions across Australia.

Pictured: John Rogers and members of Team Ventia at the Soldier on Gala Ball.

During John’s time in the army, he served across Australia, New Zealand, and around the world. A highlight from his career was his deployment in East Timor, where he was defending national interests during a time of crisis.

ANZAC Day is a time of reflection and recognition for John. It is significant for him as he remembers his time in service and those who served with him who are no longer with us. 

I think it’s important for both Australia and New Zealand to remember those that served and made a huge sacrifice for the rest of us.

John’s recognition of those that have served goes beyond just ANZAC Day and his history in the New Zealand Defence Force. He appreciates the wealth of knowledge that veterans bring to the private sector and seeks to employ and utilise the skills they bring to Ventia. He says, “their deep understanding of the client and fantastic work ethic enhances our services and capabilities.”

Jason Collins: Fire & Rescue expertise 

Snapshot of Service:
Years of Defence Service: 5
Where he served: RAAF Base Tindal & RAAF Base Williamtown.
Transitioned out in 2002.

The Royal Australian Air Force and Ventia’s Defence Base Services are both extremely fortunate to have had Jason Collins representing us on our Fire & Rescue teams.

Jason, who is a proud Veteran, has been front and center for several extreme disasters over the course of his tenure as a Station Officer, notably during the Black Summer bushfires during 2019-2020. Jason was recently honoured with a National Emergency Medal by Defence in recognition of his valor and dedication during this difficult time.

Pictured: Jason Collins being recognised with a National Emergency Medal by Defence for his dedication and valor during the 2019 bushfires.

Jason says that overall, he found the transition back to civilian life relatively easy. However, he found himself yearning for the structure and discipline the Air Force provided him with. “I missed it every day,” he says. “I knew I wanted to get back into that world in some way or another.” 

I had been familiar with Ventia during my time in the service and I knew the value they placed on recruiting Veterans.

In early 2006 and in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, an opportunity arose to join the Ventia Fire & Rescue team at RAAF Base East Sale as a firefighter. Jason jumped at the chance.

It’s been a career path that has provided him with challenges and promotion all the way up to Station Officer. The Fire & Rescue team at East Sale were predominantly ex-military personnel so Jason felt right at ease. 

When not working, Jason enjoys motorcycling and overseas travel with his partner and soon to be wife Vanessa, also a Ventia employee. 

The significance of ANZAC day

In the leadup to ANZAC Day, we asked Jason what significance the day holds for him. 

I use ANZAC Day to remember and reflect on those that served before me, with me, and those currently serving, including both of my grandfathers who served during WWII and who are no longer with us.

David Stevens 

Snapshot of Service:
Years of Defence Service: 30
Where he served: Portsea, Melbourne, Townsville, Albury Wadonga, Cambodia, Puckapunyal, Darwin, Queenscliff, Timor Leste, Canberra, Sydney, Turkey/Israel. Transitioned out in 2013. 

David joined the army in 1984 as an officer cadet. Over his 30- year career he worked primarily in workshop and logistics roles.

He was the first Commanding Officer for JLU North Queensland and also had leadership roles in Puckapunyal, Victoria and Darwin, Northern Territory (NT).

He completed two operational deployments abroad; to Cambodia and Timor Leste. David also spent three years as the Defence Attache in Australia’s Embassies in Turkey and Israel.

Pictured: David Stevens as an Officer cadet - 1983 - 1984.

At the conclusion of his rich career in the army, David joined the Immigration team at Ventia (which at the time was Transfield Services). After several roles across Immigration, Early Learning, and Corrections, David joined the Defence team.

David’s work in the NT has been instrumental in helping Ventia build a strong network of industry, Government and community leaders and groups. This resilient network has ensured Ventia - one of the largest employers in NT after the Government - is delivering the essential services Defence needs at the heart of its operations and for short notice exercises and emergency surge events. 

As Ventia strengthens its commitment to support Defence’s strategic objectives in northern Australia, David stepped into a key role as the Defence Solutions Architect for the north. He is leading efforts to rapidly reinforce Ventia’s networks across the diverse operating requirements in northern and southern Queensland to support Ventia’s growth plans.  

As a Defence Veteran, David understands the contribution that Ventia’s focus on service excellence plays in enhancing military capability, including support to surge activities and operations; and he has lived the challenges of service delivery in demanding, sometimes remote locations. 

I think Ventia’s at the forefront of redefining service excellence and understanding our client. Successful delivery of our service is about strong leadership and direction; a positive inclusive work ethic among our frontline team; and a laser focus on client needs.

Reflections on ANZAC day

ANZAC Day is a time of pride and reflection for David.

ANZAC Day is one of the most important days of the year in my book. I’m still brought to tears every time I hear Last Post.

During his time serving in the army, David had multiple opportunities to see Gallipoli firsthand.

 “I still remember the first time I laid eyes on Gallipoli when I was serving. It was the middle of the morning, a very bright, beautiful day and the team I was with were looking up the hill and wondering how the troops ever got up there, let alone survived. I was looking out to sea trying to understand how far out the ships would’ve been to be outside of gunfire range. Imagining the troops dismounting the longboats weighed down with everything they were carrying under heavy gunfire and not giving up.”

“I’m fortunate to be able to wear my medals and participate with pride and be embraced by the community, it’s a really special day for me.”

Kirsty Schilling

Snapshot of Service:
Years of Defence Service: 13
Where she served: 9FSB, 7CSSB, 4CSSB, 1 SIG Regt
Transitioned out in 2022 to Active Reserves

The Defence Retail Stores team recently welcomed a new Team Leader, Kirsty Schilling, to the Lavarack Barracks Health Centre Q-Store.

Kirsty, who is also a proud Veteran, is the front-line face and voice of customer excellence for all visitors to the Q-Store. She is also responsible for supporting Defence personnel and contractors seeking stores and equipment. 

Behind the scenes, her role involves ensuring stock is on hand to re-stock levels, ordering of items and equipment when requested, maintenance from tracking regular technical inspections to accountability and maintaining inventory.  She also disposes of equipment that is no longer required or is being replaced.

Kirsty did not start her ADF career until she was in her 30’s. She served for 13 years before deciding to transition out to the active reserves.

Pictured: Kirsty Schilling and her partner.

She hoped her ‘civilian’ life and experiences prior to joining would make the transition easier, “because I joined  Defence a little later than most, I did not think it would be so much of a change, how wrong I was,” she says. “The loss of connection, comradery, self-worth and being a part of something special left me feeling lost for a while.”

“I was introduced to Ventia by a co- worker. She knew I was ex Defence and wanted to somehow get back into the surroundings," says Kirsty. 

The opportunity at Ventia has allowed me to remain connected to all that I love about serving.

Kirsty shared that, “my Defence experience helps with understanding how the Defence organisation works so that I can better support the personal, contractors and units that I work with in this position.”

In the lead up to ANZAC Day we asked Kirsty what it means to her

“ANZAC Day is a very special day for me,” she says. “Not only did I graduate on ANZAC Day, but it also carries a strong connection to serving members and Veterans. It’s an incredible feeling to be a small part of an incredibly large, proud group and to remember what our soldiers went through in war. Without the sacrifices of Australian and New Zealand Soldiers, our home as we know it, would be a very different one”.

When not working or on reserve duty Kirsty is out hiking with her partner, keeping her creative skills alive painting their new home or is hard at work looking after her young son and mini zoo that includes two dogs Torvi and Axel, two snakes, Scout and Luna and a cat, Seb. 

We thank our veterans for their service to the Australian Defence Force and their continued contributions to Defence capability as part of team Ventia.