BOOTSTRAPS is the brainchild of Kensington Grove resident and Defence Corporal Sam Kavanagh.

It's a class run in Ipswich that brings together two of Australia's greatest traits, workmanship and mateship. 

The class is all about saving veterans. 

Cpl Kavanagh, who served in the Australian Defence Force for almost two decades, has established a program to teach veterans leather craftsmanship.

Sam Kavanagh has started BOOTSTRAPS. A not for profit organisation set up to assist current and ex-servicemen and women in the Brisbane, Lockyer Valley, Somerset, and Toowoomba regions to aid with recovery from any physical or mental health issues associated with their service, by way of creative leather classes.
Sam Kavanagh has started BOOTSTRAPS. A not for profit organisation set up to assist current and ex-servicemen and women in the Brisbane, Lockyer Valley, Somerset, and Toowoomba regions to aid with recovery from any physical or mental health issues associated with their service, by way of creative leather classes. Rob Williams

He has already taught mates life skills and created several leather items.

"The reason I started it was because I remember doing it with my Dad," Cpl Kavanagh said.

He joined the Australian Defence Force in 1994 and remained for a decade.

Cpl Kavanagh re-enlisted in 2011 before transferring to the reserves last year.

He was not deployed overseas, but witnessed post-traumatic stress disorder take hold of his friends and colleagues.

"You don't have to be in a war zone to get PTSD," he said.

To make a change and help people overcome the challenge that often follows the end of military service, Cpl Kavanagh started the program to teach new skills and keep busy.

"I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself one day and thinking there's nothing around for veterans," he said.

"I was doing my leatherwork in the shed and my son was sitting there with me.

"I thought about the times I was doing leatherwork with my Dad as a young bloke, around 12 or 13 years old, and I thought, why couldn't I share this with other people?"

In the middle of last year, he started administration work to work towards Bootstraps being registered as a not-for-profit organisation.

"I want to run classes three times a week from Brisbane to Toowoomba and anything in between," he said.

In the three-hour class, Cpl Kavanagh will teach veterans how to make a wallet, belt or any other leather product they choose.

"The main reason is getting people together and getting them out of the house to help them with mental or physical injuries and recovery," he added.

The defence force veteran hopes the classes will allow participants to network with similar people in the community and provide skills they can then pass on.

"I still have a pencil case I made with my Dad when I was 13," he said.

"It's about bringing a community spirit to the group and allowing people to help each other.

"I don't think there's anything else like it."

Cpl Kavanagh is still in the early days of establishing Bootstraps, but he hopes to have regular classes running before the end of the year.

"We're looking for grants now to do infrastructure and purchase kits," he said.

For more information about the project, search BT Straps on Facebook.