Veterans’ Services Update – January-March 2020
RSL NSW helps veterans and their families through the services provided by RSL DefenceCare. At the start of the year we published an annual update on how we helped veterans in 2019.
This update provides information on what we’ve done in the first quarter of 2020. Circumstances have been difficult since the start of the year. The bushfires and COVID-19 have impacted veterans across the country, meaning our services have been in high demand. We started the year by providing regular updates on bushfire assistance, and you can find a document tracking the bushfire assistance here.
These crises also impacted business operations, not least because a number of our team are Reservists and were called up for duty across both bushfire affected areas and in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.
However, despite the challenging start to 2020, we’ve been able to provide a great deal of support in the first quarter of the year. This is thanks to the generous support of sub-Branches and donations from members and the general public.
From January to March, through RSL DefenceCare, we:
- Provided $317,916 in financial assistance including $286,305 in disaster assistance.
- Assisted 26 veterans experiencing homelessness.
- Helped 134 veterans to lodge 374 DVA claims.
- Provided 47 counselling sessions to veterans and family members in need.
- Made 64 visits to homes, hospitals and nursing homes.
This update was originally published on the RSL DefenceCare website. Read on below to find out how RSL NSW is supporting veterans and their families through RSL DefenceCare.
Financial and Disaster Assistance
Financial assistance is one of the core services provided by RSL NSW through RSL DefenceCare. It’s vital for veterans and their families who are experiencing financial hardship. This has been particularly true throughout the recent bushfire crisis. Some of the veterans we assisted had the misfortune to experience drought, bushfires, and floods in succession.
In the first quarter of 2020, $317,916 in financial assistance was provided to veterans and their families in need. This includes $286,305 of disaster assistance, much of which was provided in bushfire affected areas.
The devastation caused by the bushfires showed how important RSL DefenceCare’s services are in helping veterans and their families get back on their feet.
We heard from a number of veterans about how support from RSL NSW sub-Branches and RSL DefenceCare helped them get through the crisis.
“I’m fortunate that I have escaped depression, but I think I was heading down that path. I can’t thank the RSL enough for the gift they have given me and I’m looking forward to ANZAC Day with a confidence that I will make it in one piece.” – A veteran from the Western District.
If sub-Branches would like to contribute to general financial assistance, please get in contact and we will guide you through the process.
Homelessness and Housing Support
In the last three months we helped 26 veterans who were experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless.
Our housing project officer at RSL DefenceCare is funded by the NSW Department, Family and Community Services (FACS). This position allows us to support veterans and their families at risk of homelessness, help veterans to find a rental property and access subsidised rental and bond payments.
Our housing project officer has made an immeasurable difference to these 26 individuals over the last three months. One of the most important parts of this role is the continued support provided to veterans to prevent them from becoming at risk of homelessness once again.
RSL NSW and RSL DefenceCare are always looking for ways to fund more housing project officer positions to increase this support.
DVA Claims and Appeals
Assistance with DVA claims and appeals is one of the core services we provide through RSL DefenceCare.
From January to March, we helped 134 veterans to lodge 374 DVA claims.
On average it takes 3 hours and $164 to help a veteran with one claim. Successful claims can provide much needed medical cover and financial independence for veterans. Funding for our specialist claims advisors is vital in ensuring that veterans receive the ongoing support they need.
Community Support and Outreach
RSL sub-Branches are integral to the League’s work in connecting with veterans on a local basis. RSL DefenceCare supports this work with visits to homes, hospitals and nursing homes, as well as counselling sessions for veterans and family members.
Naturally though, outreach services have been particularly affected by COVID-19, as social distancing restrictions have been put into force. The RSL DefenceCare team, as with all ANZAC House staff, have been working hard to ensure that services can continue to be provided. In this instance, service can be delivered via phone and video.
Despite these recent restrictions, in the last quarter, the team made 64 visits to homes, nursing homes, and hospitals and also provided 47 counselling sessions to veterans, widows, and family members.
This was all achieved by one full time and one part time staff member. The nature of this community work requires “boots on the ground”. With more people performing these services we could extend them to help more veterans and family members.
Thank You to All Members
The RSL DefenceCare team at ANZAC House couldn’t provide these services without the ongoing and generous support of sub-Branches, members, and the public. Despite these uncertain times, there’s an increased focus on how veterans are supported in Australia. We want the League to be at the forefront of that support.
If you’d like to support RSL DefenceCare’s work you can make a donation to RSL DefenceCare today. Alternatively, as ANZAC Day is approaching, you can donate to the ANZAC Appeal. Donations in NSW go to supporting the work of RSL DefenceCare.
If your sub-Branch would like to make a financial contribution, please contact us and we can provide guidance on the process.