MEDIA RELEASE – FAMILIES OF AUSTRALIAN SERVICE PERSONNEL TO FINALLY RECEIVE THE SUPPORT THEY DESERVE

On Saturday 27 October, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the federal government will provide capital funding for the build for Fussell House, the accommodation facility connected to Concord Repatriation General Hospital. Fussell House will allow family members of veterans to stay with their loved ones while they receive treatment, on site, and receive additional support through Soldier On.

The $6.7M capital investment will bring support to Australian veterans and families, in line with ally nations such as the USA (Walter Reid) and UK (Stanford Hall). This is the first major investment from government to Soldier On, for a project that is close to John Bale, CEO and Co-Founder. “This has been a dream for Soldier On for over four years and we are so thrilled to receive funding to get this facility built,” says Bale, “The Games have shone a light on the veteran community and a key focus has been on families. Families are the key to recovery and we are so glad that we are now going to provide greater support to all. This truly is a great legacy of the games, and the centenary of ANZAC.”

Fussell House is co-located with Concord Repatriation General Hospital’s National Centre for Veterans’ Healthcare. “Michael would be so proud of everything John and the team of Soldier On have achieved and we are honoured to have this accommodation named after our family,” says Madeline Fussell, mother of Michael Fussell, who was killed in Afghanistan by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in 2008. Michael was a close friend of Bale’s and Soldier On was established as his, and his mate’s legacy.

In addition to accommodation services, Soldier On will provide family members with psychological services and counselling, social engagement programs, as well as guidance with employment and education, if required. Fussell House will connect families with others who are experiencing similar situations and enable them to support each other through difficult times.

Federal funding will enable the build of Fussell House, but Soldier On will still need the public’s support to operate the facility. “We have always had such incredible support from the community and we know that this will continue.” says Bale. “Soldier On was established to connect veterans with the community and this will always remain a key focus. We will always need their support.”

Phase 1 of Fussell House will be completed by Anzac Day 2019, with Phase 2 due for completion in 2020. The facility will provide accommodation for up to 40 people, with kitchen, laundry and children’s play areas, as well as communal areas for all guests. It will be a safe base for families during what can be a very difficult and distressing time.

“It’s important to provide space for families to connect with each other and create new networks,” says Bale. “Prior to this, families have been required to find their own accommodation, or to remain at home while their loved one receives treatment. Fussell House will be available to veterans and families from across the country and will connect them with world class treatment and support.”

Soldier On will work with families when they return to their home locations, while the veteran will continue to receive treatment via telemedicine.

“Ken and I have both experienced the stress families face when living with a parent with PTSD,” says Madeline, “We know Fussell House will make enormous improvements to the way Australia supports our service men and women and their families, physically and emotionally, and we are so touched that Mike is remembered through the naming of this facility.”

 

Interview Opportunity

John Bale, CEO and Co-Founder Soldier On

LTGEN Peter Leahy, AC (Ret’d) – Chairman Soldier On

Madeline Fussell – Mother of Michael Fussell

David and Sandra Savage – Soldier On Ambassadors

Please contact Melissa Russell, National Communication Director on 0428 076 773 or melissa.russell@soldieron.org.au

 

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WHY SOLDIER ON WAS STARTED

Born on the 17th November 1983 in Coffs Harbour, Michael spent his childhood in the New England District, living in both Tamworth and Walcha before moving to Arding at the age of nine. A committed rugby player, swimmer and horse rider, he developed an interest in the Army as a career from an early age.

Enrolling in the Armidale School, he met fellow classmate John Bale and together they joined the cadets. After graduating, the two were accepted into the Australian Defence Force and travelled to Canberra to attend the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Royal Military College at Duntroon. They were both commissioned into the Australian Army, and after their initial postings, they were then posted to the same unit at Holsworthy in 2008.

That year, Michael was posted to 4 RAR (Cdo) as a Joint Offensive Support Team Commander and became a Joint Terminal Attack Controller. It was in this role that he deployed with the Special Operations Task Group and whilst on a fighting patrol in Oruzgan Province in Afghanistan, he was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on the 27th November 2008.

After Michael’s death, John returned to their home town of Armidale to find a community that was rallying together to support Michael’s family and raising funds for those involved in the incident and coming home to a very different life.

In the years that followed John, Cavin Wilson, and Dr Danielle Clout, identified that no single organisation was focused on supporting both younger veterans injured physically and psychologically in incident’s like Michael’s, and their family members. In addition, they wanted to ensure that those who had been impacted by their service during peacekeeping operations, training exercises, and general duties were also provided assistance.

They chose to take action and establish Soldier On. Their vision was to provide a way for the community to come together and support our modern-day veterans and their families.

They believed the community needed a mechanism to support these brave men and women and so, on 24 April 2012, Soldier On was launched.

 

HOW SOLDIER ON HELPS THOSE WHO HAVE SERVED AUSTRALIA 

Today Soldier On has centres in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, as well as offices in Adelaide, Albury, Brisbane, Newcastle and Perth. All centres and office in Brisbane have an in-house psychologist who specialises in trauma-related mental health conditions. The centres also have Employment Officers and Social Program Officers, to provide employment and education support as well as social activities and programs.

Soldier On is focused on helping to secure the futures for all those who have served and continue serving our nation. They recognise that this service goes beyond the ADF uniform and reaches into Australia’s National Security Agencies.

On 10 October 2017, Soldier On extended its support services to all those service personnel from national security agencies who have served, and continue to serve, side by side with the ADF.  This includes individuals and their families from the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other security agencies.

Securing and protecting Australia in complex environments, domestically and globally, requires integrated multiagency and multidisciplinary teams of national security agency service personnel to work side by side, both on and offshore, and this should be no different at home.

Soldier On support those who serve today, tomorrow, and into the future.