When those who fought for our freedom are still battling the remnants of war at home, more help is needed for our veterans, and their families, says Federal MP for Solomon Luke Gosling
THIS week Australians gathered in the quiet of pre-dawn to pay respects to those who served our country, those who died and those that came home, often forever changed.
On Anzac Day we say to those who served, those who are serving and their families – thank you for your sacrifice and thank you for your service.
The Australian value of mateship means we are naturally drawn to the Vietnam veterans’ saying “we remember the dead but we fight like hell for the living”.
This ethos provides an important focus for our efforts and is also expanded to the families.
In recent weeks we have seen an escalation of global tensions and a sharper focus on the primary role of the Fed- eral Government – to keep Australians safe and secure.
It is our armed forces, our allies, our intelligence, security and policing services who have this role and we need to ensure they and their families in turn receive all the support and services they may need.
The recent release of the National Mental Health Commission’s Review of services available to veterans and members of the Australian Defence Force has highlighted that there is an overwhelming need for family involvement and support.
Our local Vietnam veterans care for the next generation of veterans and, in an Australian first, are changing the name of their organisation to be more inclusive of more recent veterans, not just those who fought in Vietnam. This is very admirable indeed and there are other community-led solutions emerging to meet the needs of local veterans.
Just last week I had a great turnout to a veterans’ forum in my office.
We talked about the current gaps in services and support for Top End former servicemen and women.
A key worry is the loss of the NT’s only fulltime dedicated advocate after the funding was cut by the South Australian RSL.
In response, ex-service organisations are looking to employ a person themselves in this fulltime position to provide and co-ordinate welfare and advocacy services.
This role is critical; too often ex-service men and women “fall through the cracks” and the advocate position will help them deal with the complexity of applying for DVA support and accessing appropriate and tailored support.
In the Territory, we have a low uptake of clinical resources such as mental health, chronic disease and co-ordinated veterans care programs and interstate travel is often needed for those accessing specialists.
The veterans’ forum also acknowledged other professions who may be living with the difficulties resulting from their service; Territorians serving in different uniforms, including police officers, fireys, ambulance workers and other frontline staff, who deal with difficult and sometimes trau- matic situations for the good of our community every day.
The Walking off the War Within 5km/20km walk event at East Point last Saturday morning was an example of our fire fighters with defence and emergency services community members coming together to support those in need.
It was impressive to see the variety of people doing the hard, hot yards; to them and to all those serving our nation and our community – THANK YOU.
We must never forget those that are still fighting battles every day and we owe it to them and their families to do more.
For assistance call the Defence Family Helpline on 1800 624 608