Wagga Wagga veterans and their families are set to benefit from more than $1.7 million in funding to boost veteran services and support in the region.
Minister for Veteran Affairs and Defence Personnel Matt Keogh was in Wagga to announce the $17 million in Federal Government funding for 21 projects nationwide as part of the Veteran Wellbeing Grants One-Off Program to improve veteran and family services, support and coordination.
As part of the program, Pro Patria Centre (PPC) will receive $1.2m, and RSL LifeCare will receive $520,000 in funding.
Member for Riverina Michael McCormack and representatives from PPC and RSL LifeCare’s Riverina Veteran Wellbeing Centre gathered with Minister Keogh at the Victory Memorial Gardens on Tuesday (21 November) for the funding announcement.
“We recognise the need to support service providers and ex-service organisations around the country to enhance how they’re able to provide service and support to veterans and families on the ground,” Mr Keogh said.
“The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide has made it clear there is no time to waste in improving services and support to the veteran community.
“This program supports larger projects that can be implemented quickly to deliver the services that veterans and families need, in the areas they need most.”
Organisations were invited to apply for funding for projects based on the nature and maturity of the projects, the projects’ ability to provide support to areas with significant Defence and veteran populations, local needs and the availability or access to existing services.
“In Wagga and across the Riverina, we’ve got over 5000 current serving personnel, veterans and their families … and supporting veterans in this community is important,” Mr Keogh said. “I know because I’ve got people like Macca [Mr McCormack] who always talk to me about it.
“It’s important MPs are standing up for their communities and talking to government about the need to ensure we support our veterans.
“We’re happy to support two great projects [RSL LifeCare Wellbeing Hub and Pro Patria Centre] through the grant program, which will enhance the service provision and the support in Wagga and across the Riverina.”
Mr McCormack welcomed Mr Keogh and thanked him for the Government’s commitment to the region.
“I thank you earnestly and honestly on behalf of the citizens of Wagga and the wider region because this funding is important,” Mr McCormack said.
“Pro Patria and RSL LifeCare work hard for our community and deserve this. They need it and will put the money to good use.
“Wagga is the only inland regional centre with all three arms of the Defence and has a huge veteran community who call Wagga home, who need, deserve, and expect the very best of care after their service.”
PPC board director Jacqui Van de Velde thanked the Minister and the Federal Government for the funding.
“This is a huge endorsement of the work we’re doing at Pro Patria,” Ms Van de Velde said. “It’s a boost in morale for our 100 per cent volunteer organisation and every community member who has supported us financially or in kind.
“This grant means we can bring forward our plans to house the Defence shed in Wagga on the site with us.
“We’re going to have our skates on because it’s a massive project we need to get organised.”
RSL LifeCare executive general manager Dave Anderson also expressed gratitude to the Albanese Government for the opportunity to improve the level of services for the veterans in the community.
“[Funding] will go towards significant improvement within the veteran wellbeing centre to improve the veteran experience,” Mr Anderson said.
“[Funding will be used to] improve the ability to have private consultations and more teleconferencing opportunities but also create bigger social connection opportunities with veterans and families.”
The Veteran Wellbeing Grants One-Off Program was established to complement and build on the Government’s existing Veterans & Families Hub program in support of large-scale projects that will benefit the health and well-being of veterans and families.
Original Article published by Shri Gayathirie Rajen on Region Riverina.