Working Together

Red Poppies

To help veterans thrive, collaboration amongst ESOs is key to effecting long-lasting change.

At last count, there are over 60 ex-service organisations (ESO). If you include RSL sub-branches, that number rises to above 3500. That’s a good thing. The more people helping veterans throughout their lives, the better. But to the more cynically inclined, this plethora of ESOs could be seen as being in competition. In the context of the business world, aren’t also competing for veterans? No, quite the opposite.

We are charitable organisations, and we are all working toward the common goal of helping veterans and their families thrive and cooperation among ESOs is vitally important to achieve this goal. This is something we at Soldier have focused on for the last two years, collaborating with over 50 ESOs to help veterans and their families build social connections, pursue rewarding careers and maintain mental and physical well-being.

It is a common, selfless goal all ESOs share, and contrary to the competitive and often cut throat world of business. Would Pepsi ever work with Coke to make their consumers healthier and happier? Unlikely. But ESOs do. In fact, the sheer variety and number of ESOs Soldier On collaborates with allow us to do a great deal of good.

Combined, ESOs can leverage our respective strengths and bring more political, financial, and social support to veterans and their families. For example, Soldier On has worked with Disaster Relief Australia by building a facility together, and our Social Connections team often work with Kookaburra Kids. Australian Peacekeepers want to make a veteran one-stop shop of sorts within their Canberra Veteran Wellbeing Centre, inviting Australian War Widows, Kookaburra Kids and Invictus Australia, among others, to be located onsite. Similarly, Soldier On are co-located with Legacy in Legacy House in Melbourne and in Perth we work from RSL sub-branch.

In Adelaide, we are anchor tenants in the Wellbeing hub, while in Darwin we will be anchor tenants in a facility being built by Mates 4 Mates. All of this is very good, but each ESO brings something different to a diverse range of complex and multi-faceted problems that veterans and their families encounter during and after service.

So naturally, each ESO wants to maintain its own sense of identity while working with one another. Soldier On, of course, is Australia’s only national ESO. While other ESOs work as a state-based federated model, we are truly a national organisation, offering continuity of support no matter where the service member is posted or chooses to live after discharge, be it Darwin, Perth or Tasmania or anywhere in Australia for that matter. As an ESO, it is Soldier On’s point of difference. Undoubtedly as time marches on there will be more collaboration and more integration among ESOs. And probably even more ESOs. This can only be a good thing. Because at the end of the day, we are all working for one goal: to help veterans thrive.


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Further reading

March On: Walking for Waide
For the fourth year running, George Sutton is completing the March On challenge in memory of those lost.
Gwen Cherne
Stronger Together
Love, compassion and support: Gwen Cherne talks about her mission as Veteran Family Advocate Commissioner  
Finding her groove
Soldier On participant Naomi knows the road to a successful civilian life can be rocky. She shares her...