Media Release – Centre to support veterans officially opens in Sydney


Monday, 10 October 2016  

Centre to support veterans officially opens in Sydney this afternoon


New South Wales Governor His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d) and Mrs Linda Hurley will this afternoon officially open a not-for-profit centre in Sydney, which supports serving and ex-serving men and women and their families transition into civilian life and build successful futures.

Delivered by veteran organisation Soldier On, the Michael Fussell Reintegration and Recovery Centre will provide direct access to a range of support, services, resources and opportunities to veterans and their families in Sydney. It is located on the grounds of the Concord Repatriation General Hospital, and the centre will form part of the future National Centre of Excellence for Veteran Support, proposed to open in 2020.

The official opening of the centre today, which coincides with World Mental Health Day, marks Soldier On’s continued efforts to provide veterans and their families with mental health support, social connectedness activities and programs, and employment, training and education support services. These services are aimed to heal the physical and mental scars that are often left after their time in service and help them build successful futures.

Soldier On Co-Founder and CEO, John Bale – a veteran himself – said the organisation’s mission is to reintegrate our servicemen and women into civilian life better than any previous generation in Australia’s history.

“In August it was revealed over 40 Australian veterans had taken their life so far this year, this highlights our contemporary veterans are not reintegrating back into society as well as they could be.”

“When servicemen and women separate from the armed forces, either by choice or at the request of the defence force, in the blink of an eye they have lost their identity, purpose, career and best mates. That’s where we come in.”

“In the last few months we have recruited two psychologists and a transition support officer for our Michael Fussell Reintegration and Recovery Centre in Sydney to deliver vital mental health support and employment, training and education services to veterans in need. These services, as well as our social connectedness programs and activities, are part of our holistic framework to help veterans and their families overcome any impacts from their service and build successful futures.”

The official opening of this Soldier On centre in Sydney expands their services across New South Wales. It provides pathways for returned servicemen and women to connect with others, and to gain the confidence and skills they need to find fulfilment away from Defence Force.  

Since Soldier On was established four-and-a-half years ago, it has assisted hundreds of veterans across Australia, with support centres in Canberra, Currumbin, Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney.

His Excellency General David Hurley said “As Co-Patrons (of Soldier On), Linda and I are delighted to support an organisation that has the interests of our contemporary veterans – and their families – at the very core of its work.”

“The transition from service careers to civilian life is often frustrating and stressful for veterans as they leave behind the world they know, their unit, their community and their job which has shaped their identity.”

“Their needs may range from educational and employment assistance to family and psychological counselling, with a focus on transition support.”

“This new centre fills a gap in our service provision. It is an exciting time for Soldier On and those they serve.”

The centre is named after fallen serviceman, Lieutenant Michael Fussell, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2008. This is especially fitting as Michael Fussell and Soldier on CEO and Co-Founder, John Bale, grew up together in Armidale and were friends. Not only did they attend high school together, but they would later attend the Royal Military College in Canberra together and both enjoy careers in the Australian Army.

John and Dr Danielle Clout conceived the idea for Soldier On following Michael Fussell’s death in Afghanistan. While an outpouring of support was shown towards Michael’s parents and families, they identified there was a lack of support for Michael’s mates – those who had served beside him in the Defence Force and Afghanistan, and who were impacted by his death. They recognised more support services were needed for contemporary veterans, and together with others set about providing those services

To learn more about Soldier On visit


 Media Contact: Nicole Thomson-Pride,, 0428 076 773