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

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS -

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

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