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New Synergy Defence and National Security Scholarship at UC to support former ADF personnel and families

Suzanne Lazaroo

25 April 2023: A new scholarship at the University of Canberra aims to support former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and their immediate families, while building skills and capacity in the national security, home affairs and international relations sectors.

Holly Caffery (Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Finance) and Kathryn Moloney (Bachelor of Laws) were named the first two recipients of the Synergy Defence and National Security Scholarship this year.

The scholarship provides each recipient with $20,000 over two years of study.

With her father serving in the ADF, Ms Caffery feels that study initiatives like the scholarship open up a world of possibilities that may otherwise be inaccessible for former uniformed service personnel and their families.

“Many Defence families have to move around a lot, and that can impact the stability of home life and education,” she said. “Some also face Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD], which adds to the turbulence. This financial support goes a long way to help mitigate these stressors.

“I’m using my scholarship funds for textbooks and accommodation, so that I can live on campus and devote more time to study – I’m also currently working with an accounting firm, with my long-term goal to work in national security in an advisory aspect.”

Open to University students in sector-relevant courses from their second year of study, the scholarship is sponsored by Synergy Group Australia, a leading provider of professional services and solutions to the Commonwealth.

A 34-year veteran with the Australia Defence Force (ADF), Brigadier Michael Mahy DSC is a Partner at Synergy Group Australia, and has been one of the driving forces behind the scholarship – he was very impressed with the calibre of the scholarship applicants, especially considering it is in its first year.

“I think the scholarship recipients are really deserving – reading through the scholarship applications, it was very obvious to me that they had thoroughly thought through their motivations for study, ideas and the future impact they can make,” Brigadier Mahy said.

The scholarship supports a culture of lifelong learning, and seeks to ultimately enrich the national security, home affairs and international sectors, combining unique insights and lived experience with tertiary study and research.

It also builds on Synergy’s internal initiatives to support the veterans and their families who have transitioned from uniformed service to business, within the organisation.

According to Brigadier Mahy – who completed a Master of Defence Studies at the University in 1999 – many veterans and their families wanting to make this transition find that they need tertiary study to improve their qualifications and skills, increase confidence and attain greater levels of competitiveness in the market.

“When you enlist, you are making a commitment to serve your country, whether in terms of peacekeeping, or the support often provided in the face of national disasters,” Brigadier Mahy said.

“This can often mean a significant impact to what many would expect as normal life for both individuals and families – particularly in terms of the mobile lifestyle that comes with a career in Defence.

“We’re very happy to be able to support the University of Canberra to provide the kind of opportunities that come with education, for those who have contributed so much to the country – and we look forward to working together on further initiatives for the Canberra community, which will ultimately make Australia a better place.”