Labor has committed to delivering a new $5 million Veteran Wellbeing Centre in Queanbeyan should they win the upcoming federal election.
Federal Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain said the new centre would bring much-needed support to about 18,000 veterans and their families in the Eden-Monaro and surrounding electorates while also supporting other first responder groups.
“The key to the new veteran support centre would be listening to the local community to design a service that meets their needs,” Ms McBain said.
“If elected, Labor will continue to consult with the local ex-service community on how to best support them and their families with this facility, and to determine an appropriate lead organisation, location and delivery model for the centre.
“Only Labor is on the side of veterans and families in Eden-Monaro, and we will give them the services they need and deserve.”
Soldier On interim CEO Prudence Slaughter said the veterans of Canberra and regional New South Wales would greatly benefit from the increased access to support services.
“Soldier On has seen veteran wellbeing centres across the country achieving fantastic outcomes for the veteran community, fostering opportunities for connection and collaboration between veterans and their peers, as well as ex-service organisations, health professionals, veteran supportive employers and community groups,” Ms Slaughter said.
“Soldier On works closely with the region’s veteran community, veteran supportive organisations and other ex-service organisations to provide holistic support where it is needed most to veterans and their family members. Demand for veteran support services has increased drastically in recent years and while Soldier On has been operating a temporary centre in Canberra to address this need, we welcome the opportunity for permanent support in the region.”
Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Shayne Neumann said that the facility would serve as a “one-stop-shop” for essential services, including transition, wellbeing support, advocacy, employment and housing assistance and social connection.
“The centre will be a family-friendly space and provide peer-to-peer support for younger veterans and their families, bringing together critical services under one roof,” Mr Neumann said.
“We want to see a facility run by veterans, for veterans, that’s inclusive and easily accessible for all ex-service men and women in the community.”
Mr Neumann said there has been an increased need for support services in the Queanbeyan-Palerang region due to long wait times for veteran claims, the Royal Commission into defence and veteran suicide and the ADF’s withdrawal from the conflict in Afghanistan last year.
“This $5 million commitment is about providing practical support on the ground for our defence personnel and veterans and their families who may be doing it tough,” he said.
“A number of veterans and ex-service organisations in the area, together with local Member Kristy McBain, have advocated for this for some time – Labor has listened to this feedback and responded with this commitment.”