11 December 2022

Salute to vital Pro Patria Centre during royal commissioners' visit

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Royal Commission into Veteran Suicide chair Nick Kaldas, Commissioner Dr Peggy Brown AO, Defence Shed Wagga treasurer Bradley Maynard, Commissioner James Douglas KC and Pro Patria Centre board member Jason Frost. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide commissioners visited the Pro Patria Centre after concluding the hearings in Wagga.

Commissioners Nick Kaldas (chair), Dr Peggy Brown and James Douglas were taken for a tour around the centre by members of the centre.

The Pro Patria Property Trust is transforming the Carmelite Monastery into a clinical treatment support site for veterans, defence and emergency support personnel. The centre will serve as an innovative multidisciplinary facility that provides sorely needed holistic health treatments to veterans and first responders.

Dr Brown said the work done by the Pro Patria Centre providing services for defence personnel, veterans and their families was “absolutely what we see is needed in this space”.

“And there are obviously others who are providing services of that kind as well,” Dr Brown said.

“Different types of services, meeting the different needs that veterans and their families have, is a really important part of what’s needed.

“I think, in tackling this issue of suicide and suicidality … it’s that sense of somewhere to go.

“The connection, someone to help if there’s a need, and that sense of belonging and you know, being together is so important.”

READ ALSO Veterans’ advocates say calls for a wellbeing centre in Wagga do not go far enough

Pro Patria Centre board director Jacqui Van de Velde said the organisation was delighted to welcome the commissioners to the facility.

“We were excited to share with the commissioners the work that we’re doing,” Ms Van de Velde said.

“We’re very much on the solution side of the terms of reference about what’s working in veteran care.”

Ms Van de Velde said most people were now aware the organisation had been out in the community ”fundraising like mad”.

“Because we’re trying to purchase and secure the property (Carmelite Monastery) so that we can continue to develop this centre of excellence in medical treatment and holistic care.”

“Since October 2021 we have processed 460 inquiries from veterans and their family members and connected them with the services that we’re coordinating here at Pro Patria.”

The centre is preparing a report to submit to the royal commission early next year.

READ ALSO Selfless Riverina women honoured with state community achievement awards

Ms Van de Velde said the organisation would also welcome the opportunity to appear in a public hearing.

Recently Pro Patria Trust, Wagga Wagga.TV, Australian actor John Wood and Riverina Bluebell joined forces to raise $1.5 million for the Pro Patria Centre and produced a 20-minute documentary – A Call to Action: Your Defence, Our Battle.

The documentary sheds light on the PPC’s breakthrough and calls for people to donate money to secure the monastery.

To donate to the centre, click here.

If this story has raised any issues for you, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, the Defence All-hours Support Line on 1800 628 036, Open Arms on 1800 011 046 or Soldier On on 1300 620 380

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