Call for more Veteran Wellbeing Centres
RSL NSW and RSL LifeCare have met with the Federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Hon Andrew Gee MP, to call on the Commonwealth to expand the roll out of additional Veteran Wellbeing Centres to key locations across New South Wales where there is high demand for services.
In 2019, the Australian Government committed $30 million to develop a network of six Veteran Wellbeing Centres across Australia in partnership with ex-service organisations and state and territory governments.
The Veteran Wellbeing Centres provide innovative and flexible models of service delivery that reach as many local veterans and their families as possible and involve collaboration between veteran service providers to create a one stop shop for the veteran community.
Nowra is the location of the single federally funded centre in NSW and is operated by RSL LifeCare, the partner charity of RSL NSW. It is currently operating from a temporary office location and building began last month on the permanent facility.
NSW is home to a large, regionally dispersed veteran community, with more than 30 per cent of DVA clients and service personnel living in communities across the state. A single veteran wellbeing centre at Nowra does not reflect demand either by client need or geographic spread, and additional facilities are needed in other communities with high demand, particularly those that surround ADF Garrisons.
Consequently, RSL NSW and RSL LifeCare have recently established a Veteran Wellbeing Centre in Wagga Wagga for Riverina-based veterans and their families, and have plans for several more across the state. During the meeting they explained to the Minister that if the Commonwealth were to fund capital expenditure costs to deliver new VWCs and a permanent facility in Wagga Wagga, RSL NSW and RSL LifeCare would cover all ongoing operational costs and deliver a separate project to train at least one Wellbeing Support Officer in every sub-Branch.
The initiative demonstrates how the network of over 340 RSL NSW sub-Branches and RSL LifeCare work together to provide access to the niche services and support sought by the NSW veteran community and their families.