We are located in Gatton in the Lockyer Valley, QLD. We offer leather work classes as a way to assist with the recovery of any mental or physical injuries sustained during service, and to relax, network and reconnect. We have found that creative therapy in the form of leather work, greatly helps to relieve the stress within the body and mind. Hours spent in the leather workshop result in not only a creative out-put but a calmer, physical and mental well being .

With everything that is happening in the world today, BOOTSTRAPS wants to provide a venue and an avenue for current and former serving members to help regain some stability in their lives. We also encourage all participants to bring their family members to share the time spent together and the unique items created.

Only a veteran understands. We all have our own struggles, but at BOOTSTRAPS you can relax with like minded people and reconnect with the community. There is no rank or politics here, and all we aim to do is to assist people through what ever journey they are taking.

We are a place people want to come to,

but most importantly want to come back.

We encourage you to bring family to create memories.



I started BOOTSTRAPS back in 2017 after a particularly bad day where I found myself in my leather workshop struggling to deal with things. I had discovered that there was very little, to nothing, available for veterans where I lived. I have always enjoyed leather work since my father taught me as a child and found it to be very therapeutic.


My dad spent almost 40 years in the RAAF and was a Vietnam Veteran who found comfort in the art of leatherwork as well. My dad began to teach me what he knew, and our first project together was a pencil case that I used throughout high school.


After more than 20 years in the Army, I too find myself using leather craft as a way to de-stress and ‘be’ in the creative mind-set rather than the dark places I found myself.

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On that particular day, whether it be coincidence or for some other reason, my 6-year-old son came into my workshop and asked me to teach him how to work with leather. Over the next few hours, I realised that I was reliving what my dad and I had done some 30 years before. It was surreal to say the least. It was also at that time that I realised that I could provide the same ‘moment’ for others who are facing similar issues within my area. Be it an individual project or a joint venture with a loved-one, BOOTSTRAPS has been set up to provide a creative space and veteran friendly drop-in centre.

I encourage you to come down and make not only a leather project that will last you a long time, but just as importantly, make a memory that will last a lifetime.

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Sams Pencilcase.jpg

"This is the actual pencil I made back when I was thirteen. Even after all these years the memories are still heartfelt and as strong as the day I created this with my Dad" - Sam K


Bootstraps is to provide a neutral non-confrontational drop-in support centre with associated leatherwork training capabilities.

a. Veteran Community (e.g. military, security, police, fire and emergency, ambulance, corrective services, immigration, border security) focus for those with or without physical and/or mental health issues - current or post service.

b. Open to the Australian community at large but with a focus on the Veteran Community (as above).

c. Where able conduct and promote activities of a ceremonial commemorative, memorial, sporting or social nature for the benefit of Veterans (as above) and their Families.

d. Reconnect with family members whilst creating a joint project.



The expansion of Bootstraps to a larger local Lockyer Valley property which will incorporate equine therapy, conduct of in-house TAFE courses including but not limited to training in hospitality, leatherwork and mechanics. Bootstraps is currently operated and supported by volunteers only with occasional external training providers being hired and paid on an as required basis. However, future plans include a number of full-time paid staff being part of a highly motivated veteran support focused team. Longer term there is a vision of interstate and ultimately national Bootstraps Centres being established.


Sam Kavanagh


Enlisted in the Royal Australian Army in 1994. Served in both regular and reserve forces and is currently still serving in the Australian Army Reserve. Began doing leather work at age 13.

Annette Kavanagh

Co-Founder & Treasurer

Worked in the legal industry for over 30 years. Has been an ADF spouse since 1998 and has two children. Has been doing leather work for over 15 years.

Donna Watts-Endresz

Public Relations Officer

Enlisted into the RAAF in 1995 and is still currently serving. Volunteers remotely in support of BOOTSTRAPS and is married with two children.


Paul Kaye


Worked as a stockman before serving 20 years in the Australian Army. Worked in the motorcycle industry, transport industry, funeral industry and with the Probation and Parole department. Married with 1 child.


If you are interested in joining our team get in touch today.