RSL wants to reconnect with Air Base

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Ron Bateman receives a certificate on reaching 100 years from Corporal Sam Kavanagh

Moreton District RSL President Vivienne Stanbury is hopeful that the recent relocation of their office will entice RAAF Amberley Service members to utilise their services. “We want to re-connect with Amberley,” she said.

Opening the doors to their brand new office on Pine Street, Ipswich means current and ex-Service personnel have ease of access to services from both RSL and Veteran Services.

Ms Stanbury said too many serving members of the Defence Force and their families were hesitant to use these services, associating the RSL with aged veterans.

“A lot of these Service members really don’t know what the RSL does, we hear all the time “we don’t want to be involved with a bunch of crabby old men,” Ms Stanbury said.

“We look after serving people and their families.. because [Amberley] have had so many people moving in from Perth, Adelaide, anywhere.. they’re lost you know, where do we go, what do we do.. so with veteran services and the RSL, we’re aiming to get in and help them.”

The new office will now act as the central hub for 17 Sub Branches in the region, providing assistance with anything from claims to the Department of Veteran Affairs to accommodation services and counselling.

Veteran Services General Manager Scott Denner said there’s no need for a referral – simply walk in and chat to the wellbeing officers on hand.

“There’s a culture within Defence to just get on with things and deal with it themselves, which is good.. but it also means they can be really hesitant to reach out for help,” Mr Denner said.

“All of those complex problems that people can have in their lives that not just ex-Service people have, but there’s things that service life can contribute to so that’s what the wellbeing team assists with.

“It can be everything from really difficult cases around veteran homelessness through to thecomplexities of life that can occur within someone’s family.

“When current or ex-Service personnel are dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs, it can be very confusing – veterans of all ages can find that really complex, which is why we have someone who is well versed in their legislation to assist you.”

The official opening of the Pine Street office in March was proof that the face of RSL is changing by the diversified veterans who attended.

Centenarian Ron Bateman, who enlisted in World War II was presented with a commemorative certificate on the day whilst younger service personnel like CPL Sam Kavanagh, who enlisted in 1994 were also in attendance.

CPL Kavanagh, who is currently an Army Reservist, has been working closely with RSL Moreton District and developed his own non-for-profit organisation called “Bootstraps”, a place where veterans and their families can learn leatherwork as part of their mental health recovery and to bond with one another.

Ms Stanbury said it’s time for veterans and Service personnel like CPL Kavanagh to get involved with RSL Queensland – as the “crabby old men and women won’t be here forever”.

Enquire about the services available by visiting the Moreton District Branch at 4 Pine Street, North Ipswich or email md@rslqld.org