28 October 2022

McCormack slams Labor Government for 'neglecting veterans of Riverina'

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Local veteran advocates have taken matters into their own hands after feeling ignored by the Government and the traditional lines of support by establishing the Pro Patria Centre. Photo: iStock/Jimbo_Cymru.

Federal Member for the Riverina Michael McCormack says the Federal Government has let down the local veteran community by not including a well-being centre in the Riverina electorate.

Mr McCormack said the previous government had had plans to invest in veteran well-being centres in locations with a significant veteran population.

“…Wagga in the Riverina electorate was to receive up to $5 million to better help connect veterans to available support and advocacy, with a particular focus on health and well-being,” Mr McCormack said.

“In a cynical move, Labor has ripped up this practical plan and announced funding for centres in predominantly Labor-held seats.

“One of Labor’s campaign pillars was that it promised that ‘no-one would be left behind’ but they have certainly neglected the well-being of the Riverina veteran community.”

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Mr McCormack said the latest Census data indicated there were more than 3800 veterans in the Riverina and 1426 resided in Wagga. He added the figures did not include any family members who may also require support.

The Member for Riverina added all three arms of the Defence Force were in Wagga; the ‘Home of the Soldier’, Blamey Barracks at Kapooka, RAAF Base Wagga and the Royal Australian Navy.

“A strong support network needs to be made available for if and when they or their family members need it, which is why I have been fighting to establish a well-being facility for and on behalf of our veterans and Defence personnel, who have served our country with distinction and pride,” Mr McCormack said.

“With the Federal Government investing $960 million into Defence facilities in Wagga Wagga through the Defence White Paper and the city already playing a significant role in our nation’s Defence programs, it only makes sense to invest in the people who will work and train in these facilities as well.”

READ ALSO Documentary launch charity dinner raises $100,000 for Pro Patria Centre

Local veteran advocates have taken matters into their own hands after feeling ignored by the Government and the traditional lines of support by establishing the Pro Patria Centre (PPC).

The PPC will serve as an innovative multidisciplinary facility that provides sorely-needed holistic health treatments to veterans and first responders.

Recently the Pro Patria Property Trust held a charity dinner to raise funds which will go towards securing Ashmont’s Carmelite Monastery for conversion into a PPC.

The charity dinner showcased A Call to Action: Your Defence, Our Battle, a documentary that sheds a light on PPC’s calls for people to donate money to secure the monastery.

Mr McCormack said he admired the work done by PPC.

“They’ve got a wonderful team of a volunteering committee and a dedicated group of people doing the best for our veterans,” Mr McCormack said.

“For what Pro Patria is also pushing for [treatment for first responders], it is really the responsibility of the State Government. Federal Government is not going to start paying for what is a State Government responsibility.

“[Pro Patria] needs to push the state for that area of initiative [helping first responders],” he said.

Mr McCormack said he’d not given up on the fight to secure funds for veterans in the region.

He said he would be writing to both the Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and the Minister for Veterans Affairs Matt Keogh this week about what could be done in the May budget.

To donate to PPC, click here.

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