21 August 2023

Riverina veteran centres invited to apply for one-off federal funding

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Medals on men's suits

Riverina has an opportunity to develop a veterans’ wellbeing centre. Photo: iStock/Jimbo Cymru.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Matt Keogh has invited Pro Patria Centre (PPC) and RSL LifeCare to apply for funding under a one-off grants program to develop a local veterans’ wellbeing centre.

Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack has welcomed the Minister’s invitation.

Mr McCormack, who had been advocating to the Federal Government to match a $5 million commitment from the Coalition for a veterans’ wellbeing centre made during the 2022 federal election campaign, said even though it was a good opportunity for PPC and RSL LifeCare to put their cases to Mr Keogh, the opportunity under the Veteran Wellbeing Grants One-Off Program did not guarantee funding.

The program offers grant opportunities of between $150,000 and $5 million to go towards enhancing infrastructure and services to support veterans and their families.

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“I have been fighting for a veterans’ wellbeing centre for the Wagga Wagga region and am pleased the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Matt Keogh, has invited RSL LifeCare and Pro Patria to apply for funding,” Mr McCormack said.

“The Wagga Wagga region deserves a dedicated veterans’ wellbeing centre to support the large population of veterans and their families, as well as current serving members of the Defence Force.

“I wish both organisations all the best in their applications.”

Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack

Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack had advocated for the veterans’ wellbeing centre for more than a year. Photo: Chris Roe.

PPC board director Jacqui Van de Velde said Mr McCormack had been a fantastic advocate for Pro Patria Centre and their work.

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

Ms Van de Velde said PPC had submitted its application under the Veteran Wellbeing Grant.

“Our application included expressions of support from the community and our key collaborators.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to put our case forward so we can develop the infrastructure needed to provide world-class services for veterans and their families.

Riverina Wellbeing Centre manager Charlotte Web

Riverina Wellbeing Centre manager Charlotte Webb knows the importance of supporting veterans and their families in the region. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

“Our best hope is that our project is approved and we can move forward implementing our sustainable business model,” she said.

Riverina Veteran Wellbeing Centre manager Charlotte Webb said it was fantastic the Riverina had been given this opportunity.

Ms Webb hopes to undertake some renovations within the veterans’ centre and get more vehicles to do more outreach work with the wellbeing grant.

As a reservist and once the spouse of a current serving member, she understands how difficult military life can be.

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“We are such a big garrison town, and we have two big bases,” Ms Webb said. “It’s important we are supporting our families and our veteran community.”

PPC and RSL LifeCare will be assessed competitively based on the criteria set out in the Veterans’ Wellbeing Grant One-Off Grant Program’s opportunities guidelines, with the Minister for Veterans Affairs the final decision-maker for the program.

Prior to the 2022 election, the Coalition promised to build 14 veterans’ wellbeing centres across the country, however, under the new Government’s revised plan, Wagga missed out.

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