Introducing Karyn Hinder, Founder of Working Spirit and winner of the 2023 New Missions Award
When Karyn Hinder decided to leave fulltime military service, she knew she wanted to help people.
And it was the potential she saw in her fellow veterans that inspired her to start Working Spirit, a registered charity to help veterans find employment.
Karyn joined the Australian Defence Force 30 years ago, serving in the Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force across the ranks of both enlisted and officer.
More recently, she handed back her commission to become a reservist sergeant at ADF Careers in Perth, but most of her time is taken up with growing Working Spirit.
The 52-year-old said the idea for the charity was sparked after watching a fellow veteran go from top of the game to not doing well at all after medically discharging.
“I come from a recruitment background in defence, I've got an admin background and I've worked with some fantastic men and women throughout my career,” she said.
“I thought, well, wouldn't it be good if there was a business where I could help veterans into employment?”
In 2016 Karyn took part in what was then known as the Prince’s Trust Lead Your Own Business program, where she developed the idea for Working Spirit.
Soon after she helped her first veteran find a job.
“I was hooked,” she said.
That spark of an idea that was Working Spirit was fanned into a flame by that first success.
And fuelled by passion and determination, that flame became the ever-growing fire of Working Spirit.
But there have been challenges along the way.
Karyn said fighting for funding was one of the biggest struggles she faced.
“And if I can be 100 per cent honest, being a female in the male dominated recruitment area for veterans, it's like I'm always at the boardroom door but they won't let me in,” she said.
“But at the same time, it gives me fire to go, well, I'll prove you wrong.”
Today Working Spirit has helped more than 300 veterans find employment and last year Karyn was able to hire her first two employees, thanks to ongoing funding from the Anzac Grant.
At the end of 2022, Working Spirit also launched its Transition Employment Portal, which links veterans and employers while protecting the identity of the veteran.
Karyn said veterans are given a unique ID and their contact details are only supplied to a potential employer once the veteran has agreed to connect with the company.
The portal also caters for medically transitioning veterans.
“Veterans can tick family-friendly hours, limited working hours, and the company might see they can only work one hour a day, but they won't know that the veteran has been medically discharged,” Karyn said.
At the end of October, the portal will open to families of veterans as well, with an aim to help spouses and children over the age of 15 find employment.
Looking to the future, Karyn said she wanted to expand Working Spirit further.
“I want to be the Trivago for veteran recruitment,” she said.
“So, how Trivago has all the other hotel chains and booking websites under one website, I want to be like that for veterans.
“When they transition out, they can go, you know what, I'm going to go onto this portal and I'm just going to see where it takes me.”
Karyn said she was grateful and humbled to be a finalist in the New Mission Award category of the Prince’s Trust Australia Beyond Service Awards.
“The Lead Your Own Business Program, now Enterprise for Veterans, changed my life,” she said.
“So, to be nominated is an absolute honour.”
This story was written by Courtney Snowden, freelance copywriter and current serving ADF spouse, based in Queensland.
An initiative of the Prince’s Trust Australia Enterprise programme, the Beyond Service Awards are designed to celebrate the entrepreneurial achievements of Australia’s veteran and family business community.
The 2023 Beyond Service Awards are proudly sponsored by Gold Sponsor Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and Silver Sponsor Saab Australia.
For further information, contact Prince’s Trust Australia via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karyn is a finalist for the 2023 Beyond Service Awards – New Mission Award, proudly sponsored by Saab Australia.
Karyn is the Founder of Working Spirit, a registered charity that supports veteran into meaningful employment pathways after service to the Australian Defence Force.
Unlike other recruitment services, Working Spirit is a charitable provider. Since establishment in November 2016, Karyn and her team have placed over 250 veterans.
Karyn has invested in a Transition Employment Portal and supporting female veterans through the Women Veteran Employment Network (WOVEN). She also offers a Corporate Fellowship Work Experience Programme, and has hosted nine Military to Civilian Career Summits to connect veterans with employers. Karyn works closely with RSL Western Australia.
With 25-years' experience across both the Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force, Karyn applies her background in Public Affairs and Defence Force Recruiting to her charity.
Karyn is a current serving Reservist in Perth, Western Australia.
Prime Ministers Veteran Award Winner 2021 - Excellence in Supporting Veteran Employment
Women in Defence Award Winner - People and Culture 2020
Defence Industry Awards Finalist 2019, 2020, 2021, 2023