Vietnam veterans were instrumental in setting up the Long Tan Bursary, which is funded by DVA and administered by the Australian Veterans' Children Assistance Trust (AVCAT).
Leah Whitmore was awarded the Bursary in 2019. The 20-year-old, who was raised in Alice Springs and the small Western Australian town of Shark Bay, is now in her second year of a Bachelor of Primary Education in Perth. She became aware of the Bursary from her Vietnam veteran grandfather who saw an article about it in Vetaffairs.
‘It’s helped a huge amount,’ she says. ‘When I moved to Perth last year, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It took a lot of adjustment and time to wrap my head around it. I had no time for work at all. The Bursary helped with paying rent and food and additional medical costs. So it got me through that stage until I found a job and got on my feet. It still takes the pressure off.’
Leah works part-time as a nanny but obviously plans to become a teacher. Her love of the profession began in high school when she had the opportunity to teach Indonesian to a kindergarten class.
‘I found it really rewarding. I would come back the next day and they would remember what I’d taught them, and be excited that they had. You wouldn’t find that sense of satisfaction anywhere else. My whole aim is to make children reach their full potential and to make it fun.’
Jacob Morath comes from a family with a long history of military service. His father served in Vietnam, a grandfather and great-grandfather fought in the Second World War while another great-grandfather served in the First World War. Jacob aspires to join the Australian Defence Force as a legal officer, work in national security or join DVA.
He was awarded a Long Tan Bursary in 2017 and is in his second last year of a Bachelor of International Studies/Bachelor of Laws at the University of Wollongong.
‘The Bursary reduces financial stress,’ he says. ‘I have Crohn’s disease. One of the symptoms is chronic fatigue so the Bursary means that if necessary I can turn down a shift at the My Aged Care call centre where I work.’
The Bursary also helped him undertake overseas study in New Caledonia and at the University of Strasbourg in France.
‘My love for multicultural Australia is something that I learnt from Dad … I am immensely proud of my family’s history of service and wish to engage with world affairs. The Long Tan Bursary and AVCAT have been key in allowing me to further my knowledge and passions.’
Vietnam Veterans’ Day takes place on 18 August each year, the anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan, which was one of the fiercest battles fought by Australian soldiers in the Vietnam War. It saw 18 Australians killed and 25 wounded.
Applications for the 2021 Long Tan Bursary close on 31 October 2020.
To find out if you are eligible for the Long Tan Bursary, and how to apply, please visit the ‘Long Tan Bursary’ page of the DVA website.
To find out more about Vietnam Veterans’ Day, the Vietnam War and the Battle of Long Tan, please visit the Anzac Portal website.