Belinda Wilson CEO Bravery Trust

Over recent years we have seen the importance that culture plays for boards, employees and the strength of organisational leadership, with “culture eating strategy for breakfast”.

This year, we’ve experienced challenging circumstances. From bushfires, flood and drought to a worldwide pandemic that shows no signs of abating, we are seeing the role that culture and leadership play in surviving in the pandemic environment.

As CEO of Bravery Trust, a veteran organisation that exists to support serving and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force and their families with tailored and urgent financial assistance, I have seen the best of our serving and veteran community.  

Recent events have highlighted to me the role that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) play beyond wartime conflict, in keeping our nation safe, and the closeness of the veteran community.  I have seen the best of humanity, with so many past Bravery Trust recipients reaching out to us to see how they can help their fellow veterans.  We have had heart-warming offers of giving the shirt off their own back…quite literally, with an offer of an Invictus Games jersey that set up a gold medal win. 

“I have been privileged enough to have been helped by Bravery Trust on two occasions now, and both in times of need.  For that I am very thankful.   I am unable to repay this financially, but I am giving a jersey that holds much significance to me because it set the groundwork for us to win the gold medal in Sydney.” 


To try and explain my experience of leadership and culture in 2020, I have taken inspiration from two of Bravery Trust’s Ambassadors, Justin Langer and Kevin Sheedy and used the analogy of team sport…an activity currently prohibited in Melbourne!

Sitting up in the coach’s box I have a birds’ eye view of the field.  I know my staff well and they know me and what is expected of them.  Together we make a united and formidable force against the competition: an invisible virus that is wreaking havoc on our usual environment. 

We have our solid strategy, our game plan, but we also have the flexibility to be nimble and proactive, quickly adapting to the changing ground.  We have spent time analysing the competitor, we can guess its potential for impact – emotionally, physically and financially. This foresight enables us to plan, but we keep reality in check because anything can change, and it can change quickly. 

As coach, sometimes quick decisions and course corrections are required to keep the game on track.  Other times it requires patience and watching the competitor for its next move.

Team Mascot:
At times I don the mascot costume, cheering the team on from the sidelines.  Picking them up when they need that extra encouragement. Their reactions spur me on equally, lifting my spirits and energy.  Encouraging the crowd: our veteran community; partners; and stakeholders, knowing that we are all in this together and we can do this.

Team Doctor:
Other times, I am required on the field, running out to provide one on one support and advice to my staff.  It’s usually a rapid approach…in and out and be there to support staff when they need me the most, but letting them know that they have the skills, endurance and confidence to see this out.

Team Player:
Being part of a small organisation, I love putting on the uniform and joining my team on the ground.  Sleeves pushed up and helping where needed.  We each know how to play this game, with clear roles and we have the trust and respect of our team members to know what is ahead and how we are going to get there. We each step up, as experts and leaders in our own right, helping the team through when particular skills are required.

This is our team, we all have our own reasons why we are passionate about supporting veterans…for me, it is family and friends, having grown up with a dad who served and lived in a regional town where the RAAF base was an integral part of our lives.

On The Bench:
Having a rest on the bench is so important for all of us right now.  It is ok to sit back, recharge, reflect before going back out. None of us know how long this game is going to take, but we know that together we can win.

Our team have been in training, we have conditioned ourselves to achieve a strong culture, robust and adaptable leadership, along with a board that sets and honours these values.  Without this training, we may have been more vulnerable to the organisational impacts of the virus.  We continue to play our role to be a united and strong organisation, ruining the pandemic’s ticker tape parade.  #BraveTogether

Bravery Trust is a registered business name of the Australian Defence Force Assistance Trust, a nationally registered charity.