Prime Minister the Hon Malcolm Turnbull officially opened the expanded Robert Poate Reintegration and Recovery Centre in Canberra today, marking the start of better support for wounded Australian veterans across Australia.
Joined by Hugh and Janny, parents of the fallen soldier after whom the Centre is named, the Prime Minister announced an expansion not just to the facility, but to the support available to veterans and their families in the ACT and surrounds.
Soldier On already assists hundreds throughout the country and will be opening similar facilities across the country throughout 2016.
“Since we launched the Centre in March last year, around 275 people are involved in community events and support programs each month,” said John Bale, Soldier On CEO.
“This includes around 300 registered veterans from the ACT and surrounding areas who connect with Soldier On regularly.”
“We hope the new facility will see us supporting around 500 registered veterans by the end of the year.
John said the work Soldier On conducted in Canberra would inform the support provided by the organisation to all veterans across the country, serving as a test site for support programs.
“Initially the Centre offered case management, social events, family days, and small workshops,” he said.
“With the expansion, Soldier On now has the capacity for two full time psychologists working on site, more comprehensive educational programs, office space for other ex-service organisations to deliver services under the same roof, and a much greater scope for assisting many more veterans and their families.”
John made special mention of the support of corporate sponsors and mum and dad fundraisers throughout the ACT, who made the expansion – just under a year after the initial opening.
“Their invaluable support has meant that we have helped many more men and women than we anticipated, and that the increasing demand we have here in the ACT can be met.”
However, John says the demand in other states still needs to be met.
“Our work is certainly not done, as there are still thousands of veterans around Australia who are struggling and need support. We want to coordinate that support and make sure everyone who needs help, gets it across Australia.”
“We can’t do that without funding, but working with government, corporate Australia and the general public, we can reinvigorate the way our wounded are supported.”