Decorated war hero and passionate advocate for Australian veterans, Keith Payne VC AM, has agreed to be the National Ambassador for the Bears to School initiative that is helping primary school students connect with stories of service in the final year of the Anzac Centenary.
Keith served with the Australian Army in Korea, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam. His bravery during a battle in Vietnam in 1969 earned him the Commonwealth’s highest award for valour: the Victoria Cross.
For more than 30 years Mr Payne has worked with and for veterans, particularly those living with Post Traumatic Stress, and has also been widely involved in encouraging young people, both in pursuing their education and in overcoming life’s challenges.
Although Mr Payne turns 85 years of age this year he is constantly on the move, using his status as a Victoria Cross holder, to help organisations and charities. He recently visited students in the remote Wiluna Community School Training Centre in Western Australia to be part of celebrations to acknowledge 15 Aboriginal students who completed their first TAFE qualifications.
Long-time friend of Mr Payne and training centre co-ordinator Mac Jensen, said the war veteran was a strong advocate for Aboriginal training, education and employment and was a source of inspiration for the students.
Bears to School will be an inspiring campaign that will get communities to donate uniformed Great War bears into primary schools to help students and teachers engage in lessons about service and the final commemorations in the 2014-2018 Anzac Centenary.