AVCAT Chair Marks 20 Years of Scholarships

As we now celebrate our 20 years as AVCAT, we take pride in what has been accomplished.

Major General Bill Crews AO (Retd) – AVCAT Chair
AVCAT Chair, Major General Bill Crews AO (Retd) gave an engaging address to an audience of dignitaries, AVCAT scholars and their families at our 20 Years of AVCAT celebrations at the Anzac Memorial in Sydney.

By Bill Crews

We are privileged to be able to gather here in this brilliant, recently renovated Anzac Memorial, and we are grateful to the trustees of this facility for such access.

The Australian Veterans’ Children Assistance Trust (AVCAT) is a national independent charity, assisting the children and grandchildren of Australian Ex-Service Men and Women to a better future through education. The Department of Veterans Affairs and generous sponsors, many of whom are present this evening, assist us greatly in making this possible.

I am privileged to serve as the Chair of AVCAT, and I can attest to the reward for all of our volunteers and staff in seeing young people give of their best to complete their courses and pursue their life goals.

I cannot overstate the difficult circumstances that many of our bursary and scholarship recipients have faced in their early lives, largely as a consequence of their parents’ or grandparents’ service experience. In most cases, this bursary or scholarship has made it possible to undertake tertiary education. Tonight’s recipients will join the more than 3000 who have benefitted from the support received through AVCAT and have, in turn, contributed greatly in their careers to enhancing our communities across Australia.

While AVCAT is this year marking our 20th Anniversary, our origins date back to 1985 when we were first established as the Australian Vietnam War Veterans’ Trust. It is a tribute to the Vietnam Veterans at the time that they saw the value in devoting most of the Agent Orange compensation payment to Australia to the education of the children of veterans, rather than only to short-term support to veterans themselves. Those funds were exhausted some time ago, but the Department of Veterans Affairs and our valued sponsors and donors have continued to provide the support to maintain and enhance this program.

L-R: Bill Crews, Reanna Winter – AVCAT Scholar, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley, Governor General of Australia

As we now celebrate our 20 years as AVCAT, we take pride in what has been accomplished. This situation has not been possible without the hard work and commitment of many in this room, and others, such as Brigadier Patrick Gowans, who have sadly passed on. Let me now record our gratitude for this ongoing commitment to our work, as we look forward to a bright future.

We in AVCAT seek to not only support our scholars, but indirectly add quality to the lives of the veterans and their families, all of who take great pleasure in seeing their dependents achieve their educational ambitions. Parents and Grandparents in turn play a key role in offering support to our scholars, and I pay special tribute to them this evening.

Finally, to each of our recipients, we extend our congratulations. You are the future leaders in our community. It is indeed a pleasure to be able to meet you and your family and friends. Take pride in your achievements. Face with courage and determination the many challenges before you as you pursue your chosen careers and remember that nothing of real value was ever obtained easily. You have our support, and that of your family on this journey. I extend best wishes to you all.

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