RSL Queensland Scholarships: Support that allows you to answer when opportunity calls

Lani Pauli 04 September 2021

Sometimes all we need is a little extra support to step out of our comfort zone and achieve a long-held dream.

This was the case for 42-year-old Toni King, who lives in Townsville with her husband and three children. Toni’s husband, a veteran who served more than 10 years in the Army and deployed to East Timor and the Solomon Islands, was medically retired in 2007.  

“Being the partner of someone in Defence and then a veteran impacted my own career and employment opportunities. I’ve had to be the person at home, the stable person for the kids and family things,” she says.

“It means I’ve not had the chance to go and do the things that I wanted to do when I was a bit younger.”  

Toni’s experience will feel familiar to many partners of Defence personnel. Spending valuable time investing in the stability of your family throughout your partner’s Defence journey can mean putting your own career aspirations on hold. 

When the business they owned closed and her husband was unable to work, Toni had to make a choice.  

“We were at a crossroads, and I thought it was a great opportunity for me to get the chance to focus on what I’d always wanted to do. I had started a course and when the organisation I was studying with closed, I thought to myself, ‘I’m enjoying this. Why don’t I apply for university?’,” she says.  

Toni applied to study a Bachelor of Social Work at James Cook University and was accepted.

 

HELP WHEN IT MATTERED MOST

The RSL Queensland Scholarship program has supported 221 ex-Defence personnel, their partners and dependants through tertiary or vocational study.  

By helping recipients study, upskill, re-train, or gain qualifications, the program empowers them and opens doors to opportunities that improve employability, sense of purpose and financial security.  

For Toni, the scholarship allowed her to commit to her studies without additional financial stress.  

“It helped our family at a time when buying textbooks, for example, was financially difficult. It meant I was able to buy them without the stress of worrying about the cost and where the money was coming from. I could focus solely on studying.”  

With the additional support, Toni has been able to complete her degree in four years full-time study, without needing breaks.  

“Finishing full-time study without breaks is a big achievement to me,” she says.

“I was so proud to win three University awards and finish my degree with Distinction. I’d worked really hard to get that result. 

“Completing my study has meant I’m more employable and able to apply for jobs with greater financial benefit. And with my degree I’m now able to reach for more opportunities with career advancement.”  

Now that she’s graduated, Toni is focusing on her goal to work with people.  

“I’m working as a social worker right now and long-term I’d like to become a mental health social worker. I really enjoy working with people in the clinical counselling space and I’d like to focus on more one-on-one and small group sessions.”  

And her involvement with Defence isn’t over yet.  

“It’s hard to leave that world behind. I’m working with current serving members who are injured in the workplace, helping them to develop rehabilitation programs to either return to their pre-injury work duties, transition to other jobs within ADF or support them as they transition out of Defence.” 

 

IT’S YOUR TIME TO SHINE 

With applications now open for RSL Queensland’s 2022 Scholarships, Toni says she would encourage anyone eligible to take the opportunity and apply.  

“Being able to go back and study as a mature student has given me more confidence as a person to achieve my goals as an individual, not just a ‘Defence partner’ or ‘Mum’. I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to study.” 

You can find out more about the RSL Queensland Scholarships program and eligibility criteria at rslqld.org/Find-Help/Scholarships

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