As 2019 draws to a close, the team at Veterans SA has reflected on the year that was. It has been a busy and at times challenging year with many changes. I am proud to say that the team has not only embraced these challenges, but learned from each of them, making the agency as a whole much stronger and better equipped to support the veteran community in South Australia.
I can confidently say that our team is committed to creating positive outcomes for the veteran community and the long list of our achievements over the last 12 months is a testament to this. Some of these achievements include:
- Advising and updating the Premier on the veteran community;
- Funding assistance to approximately 44 community projects across urban and regional South Australia;
- Successful delivery of the 2019 Anzac on Torrens event;
- Productivity Commission submission to address the recommendations, including preserving gold card entitlements and appearing before the Commission to provide education on veteran issues in SA
- Attending the Commonwealth, State and Territory Committee meetings to ensure that South Australia has a voice at a national level;
- Advocating for veterans at local, state and federal level;
- Successful partnership with Operation K9;
- Publishing of monthly e-News;
- Regional outreach visits to the Eyre Peninsula, South Coast, Yorke Peninsula and Riverland;
- Establishing a SA section for SA ESO’s and SA initiatives at the Department of Defence Transition Seminars to raise awareness of the unique services and employment opportunities available post-service in our state;
- Successfully delivering the inaugural Veterans’ Information Day;
- Hosting the annual Premiers Town Hall meeting;
- Collection of invaluable feedback from the veteran community that will help to shape future strategy;
- Connecting veterans and partners of veterans with employment opportunities; and
- Successful transition to Defence SA.
In addition to the achievements of the agency, the Partnerships Hub has had an incredibly productive year. These achievements include:
- Over 2000 visits from veterans, their families and their support networks to facilitate visits from advocates, health professionals and financial advisors, just to name a few;
- Facilitation of 126 veteran outreach referrals since 1 July 2019;
- Facilitation of a number of third-party consultations, meetings and events, such as Open Arms counselling sessions and StoryRight training sessions and meetings;
- Facilitation of more than 20 veteran respite visits alongside Robe to Recovery and other veteran respite services;
- Active support of the veteran release support program for incarcerated veterans;
- Assistance to Friends of the Veterans Association to raise funds for the Jamie Larcombe Centre; and
- Connections made with more than 20 external organisations and agencies providing support services to veterans.
These achievements could not have been accomplished without the support of a great number of individuals and groups within the South Australian veteran community.
The Veterans’ Advisory Council, thanks to their outreach, has continued to provide wide-ranging advice, guidance, feedback and support to the Premier and Veterans SA, for this we are, as always, very thankful.
We have been fortunate to establish new and continue to grow established relationships with the ex-service community who are doing incredible things to support veterans and their families. We look forward continuing to strengthening these relationships in 2020 and provide valuable tools and resources to ensure this important work continues.
In recent months, the team has developed our strategic plan and identified some key goals for 2020. We look forward to sharing our goals with the community in our January e-News. The feedback and input we have received over the last 12 months has shaped these goals and we will achieve great outcomes for South Australian veterans of all generations, their families and support networks.
2020 is already shaping up to be a busy year for Veterans SA and we welcome the challenges that lay ahead.
I would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude and appreciation to our former Director, Rob Manton. Rob’s steadfast leadership, drive and commitment has placed the agency on a strong path that will continue to deliver outcomes for the veteran community well into the future.
As the festive season rapidly approaches, please take a moment to give thanks to those who have served, those we have lost and to our brave, selfless men and women who are away on deployment, away from their families, working to preserve the way of life that we are fortunate to enjoy.
On behalf of Paul, Clare, Justin, Bec and myself, I wish you and your families a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. No matter how you choose to spend the festive season, please stay safe, take care of yourselves and look out for one another.
Acting Director, Veterans SA