We are delighted to welcome our passionate Ambassador Garth Callender, MBA, GAICD, as incoming Chairman, commencing 1 October 2020.
We thought you might like to know a bit more about Garth:

You have an extensive military service background, including in combat, intelligence, training and strategic roles for more than 20 years, what does “service” mean to you?

A: The concept of ‘service’ is what leads many of us into the military, and it is often what we seek in our careers afterwards. It is about playing a part that’s bigger than your individual self. I believe it is an innate drive in us to make the world better in whatever way we can, big or small.  It is one of the reasons I am so excited about taking up this new position – I can continue to serve.   

After being badly injured in Baghdad, and your mother making the Chief of the Army promise that you would not go back into combat, what drove you to defy your mum’s orders?

A: Occasionally in your life you come to the realisation that, regardless of your personal circumstances, there is a time and place to put your hand up. When questioned as to why I volunteered to return, my answer was always – I was the right person for the job. I had been to the war-torn city before, seen it at its worst, and survived. Who better understood the environment my 110-person combat team was going into; who better understood the risks; who else had intimate experience with the weapons being used against us; and who best understood what we needed to know to survive and thrive in Baghdad?

Every transition is unique, what advice would you give those going through their own transition?

A: Prepare, plan and get help with your transition – do not leave your career to chance. Gain an understanding of the industry you want to work in and try to envisage where you see yourself in five years. Get upskilled and educated if needed, and use the resources available as part of your transition.

Most importantly, network! Reach out to people you know who have already transitioned. Ask for help and talk to them about their experiences and ask for introductions to others who may assist you in your journey. As veterans, we are on our way to having the strongest alumni in the country – use it to find your career path and then become part of it to assist others do the same. 

You have held numerous leadership roles, including establishing the NSW Veterans Employment Program, which throughout your time, employed over 500 veterans, what leadership qualities are important to you?

A: Emotional intelligence matched with professional competence. To be a good leader you must be able to understand yourself and empathically influence others, all while having a solid understanding of the role you, your team and your stakeholders play. The great part of this is that these are the skills and attitudes the military builds and values in their leaders. 

Working with Bravery Trust for the last few years, and as incoming Chairman, what are you excited about in 2020/2021?

A: I am excited about being more involved in the discussions around what it is to be a veteran, and the place veterans hold in Australian society. Working to shape how veterans see themselves and working with others to help develop solutions for those who are at risk of slipping through the cracks.   

You are known to many in the Defence and Veteran community – what is something that we may not know about you?

A:  I grew up in suburban Sydney, about 30km from the nearest beach. When I met my wife, a Gold Coast girl, she taught me how to surf. Now the ocean and surfing are a constant in our lives. I find the ocean grounding and therapeutic, and surfing challenging and exhilarating. I encourage others to find what it is in life that always makes them smile.

What advice have you received from Bravery Trust’s Chairman on the journey you are about to embark on?

A: My handover with Peter Fitzpatrick has felt like a board leadership masterclass. I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from his wealth of experience. He has shown me that through compassion and hard-work you can have an enduring effect on people’s lives. His leadership has ensured so many veterans in-need have received the support they require. The broader effects of this can never be downplayed – he has helped save lives.

He continues to be a role-model to all veterans and an example to the broader community of what a veteran can be. From a military commander to a leader in industry and the community – he remains a pillar of society.


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