Australian Veteran Respite Programs
Australian Veteran Respite Programs is an initiative created from the original “Robe to Recovery” model established by the community of Robe in 2015. A simple concept that provides opportunity for veterans and their families who are struggling as a result of injuries sustained during service in the ADF to spend some quality time together in a supportive community environment.
The ABC’s Back Roads program covered the community of Robe in January this year featuring the community respite program as a unique activity providing direct support to our contemporary veteran community. Since the program went to air the level of interest in the initiative has exploded resulting in new programs being created in Victorian and NSW communities using the same model.
Program founder Jacqui Bateman from Robe developed the concept as a result of interest from the community in providing tangible support to our young veterans returning from overseas deployments. The media at the time was full of reports that significant numbers of young veterans were struggling with their injuries, physical and psychological, in a system that was difficult to navigate leading to increased anxiety, depression, homelessness and suicidal ideation. “What can we do to help?” was the question Jacqui posed to me during our first meeting at the “Tough Mudder” event held in the Langhorne Creek area in late 2015.
In 2015 we accommodated 4 veterans and their partners or families and that number grew in 2016 to 10 throughout the year. The community plan to increase the number of stays to at least 14 per year according to their available capacity with the majority of visits to be scheduled during the off season for local tourism.
The results have been overwhelmingly positive with feedback from visiting veterans full of praise for the warmth and generosity of the community and many are now planning return trips in their own time to maintain a connection with the town and it’s people.
Our second respite program running in Cobden Victoria known as “Heytesbury Haven” has just received it’s first veteran family with a very successful outcome at a time when the community itself was dealing with grief and heart ache in the wake of recent bushfires. Testament to the resilience and generosity of rural communities the Cobden township embraced our veteran family treating them to a much needed and memorable visit.
There are four new programs in the planning stages including the Sothern Highlands of NSW, the Mornington Peninsula and Phillip Island in Victoria and Moonta Bay South Australia. It is our intent to have respite programs running in all states within the next two years providing opportunity for veterans in need in each state to access these opportunities.
The Australian community recognises the service and sacrifice of our ADF members and is prepared to support them in so many ways but this is possibly the greatest example of entire communities pulling together to show their support. The results speak for themselves and we will continue to grow the program for as long as there are other communities wanting to get on board.
Keep an eye open for the AVRP logo and unique versions of it that will identify each individual community as a supporter like the Robe to Recovery logo.