Reflections On The Year

An end-of-year message from AVCAT CEO Len Russell

Before we say goodbye to the year that has been, I wanted to take a moment to look back on the busy year 2023 has been and to thank everyone who helped make this year a special one for us here at AVCAT, our staff, board, volunteers, supporters and of course our generous sponsors of bursaries and scholarships.

In summing up the year I wanted to focus on two important aspects of celebration and positive impact.

L-R; Raji Fernando; Len Russell; Jessica Nguyen; Tania Hayes; Robyn Richardson; ED; Chris Wicks

This year our annual presentation ceremonies were made even more special as AVCAT celebrated its 20 years of supporting tertiary education for children and grandchildren of veterans. Our celebrations were modest but no less important, focusing on those who have come before us in providing financial resources to children and grandchildren within our veteran community. We researched the last 20 years of AVCAT’s history as well as our predecessor organisation which took us right back to 1985. We noted in our Annual Report for 2022, released in May this year, how our organisation has assisted more than 3,000 children and grandchildren of veterans to undertake tertiary education.

We shared this year’s celebration with Vietnam veterans as they celebrated 50 years since Australia’s withdrawal from the Vietnam War. I felt especially honoured to be invited to share with veteran organisations at their celebrations throughout 2023.

Positive impact

We commenced the year like any other year, busy notifying 95 new scholarship recipients and 13 scholarship extension recipients, bringing to 260 the number of bursaries and scholarships supported in 2023. We will again be just shy of spending $1m in bursary payments supported by DVA and Sponsored Scholarships supported by many ex-service organisations, and corporate and individual donors.

We saw the continuation of our Alumni-led Mentorship Program supporting current scholars in their studies through the insights and encouragement of past scholars. This year we also collaborated with an external provider who provided a work readiness skills webinar with our soon-to-graduate 2023 scholars and partnered with RSL LIFE to distribute laptops to scholars in need of new technology.

Thank you

I am immensely grateful to the AVCAT Alumni Network of past scholars for their support of the mentorship program, our board for their strategic direction and the AVCAT staff for their dedication and commitment to our mission. When we come back from our Christmas and New Year holidays, I will have been CEO for three years. We have achieved a lot during this time, and I believe we have much more to offer the veteran community in the years to come.

Please take good care of yourselves over this Christmas and New Year holiday season and note that the AVCAT office will be closed from midday Thursday 21 December 2023 and will reopen on 8 January 2024.

Yours sincerely,
Len Russell

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