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March 08, 2020

Joshua Manning and Homes for Heroes

Media Release

Joshua Manning was a Clearance Diver in the Royal Australian Navy for 13 years. His passing on 7 October 2019 deeply saddened RSL LifeCare, Wesley Mission and the Homes for Heroes team.

Homes for Heroes is a not-for-profit partnership between RSL LifeCare and Wesley Mission combining RSL LifeCare’s experience serving veterans with Wesley Mission’s expertise in homelessness and mental health.

It is a non-clinical transitional program designed to provide temporary accommodation to young veterans at risk of homelessness. In this stable and secure environment, its team of welfare staff provide psychosocial support and connect the young veterans with services to help get them back on their feet.

Veterans requiring any clinical support such as medical, nursing, mental health or rehabilitation for substance abuse disorders are referred to appropriate external services. This may include access to community nurses, which are usually funded through the Department of Veterans Affairs or Medicare.

Since 2014 Homes for Heroes has helped more than 100 young veterans at risk of homelessness.

This is a small portion of the 6,000 young veterans who are homeless each year, many of whom experience multiple challenges, from mental illness such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to addiction and physical injuries. This impact is also felt by their families, veteran colleagues and the wider defence community.

Despite new initiatives such as the National Centre for Veterans Healthcare, support for young veterans remains under resourced. Without a community wide solution involving charities, the private sector and government there will be some young veterans around the nation who will continue to face challenges as they adapt to civilian life.

Homes for Heroes is one resource to help young veterans overcome very complex issues.

However, throughout the community much more work is needed to support young veterans as they transition from service life to civilian life.

Homes for Heroes will continue to serve veterans that are at risk of homelessness and provide them with the best possible support as we build upon their strengths. We will continue to innovate and improve on our service delivery to ensure that the veterans we serve are safe, resilient and living sustainably in their chosen community.

Veteran homelessness

  • There is a growing crisis of young homeless veterans in Australia
  • In 2009 the Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) released a report that identified that on any given night across Australia, over 3,000 veterans were homeless
  • Nearly 6,000 young veterans are affected by homelessness each year. This is often the result of living with complex mental illness resulting from the burden of service such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and can lead to substance abuse, relationship breakdown and disconnection from community supports.
  • More young veterans have served in modern conflicts than the Vietnam War, and many are falling through the gaps. Veterans who have not seen conflict can also struggle in their transition to civilian life and seek support from programs such as Homes for Heroes.

Overview of the Homes for Heroes program

Origins of Homes for Heroes:

  • RSL LifeCare founded the Contemporary Veterans Homelessness and Assistance Program – ‘Homes for Heroes’ in 2014 after identifying that no solution-specific accommodation was available to young veterans through the Department of Veterans Affairs

RSL LifeCare/Wesley Mission partnership

  • Homes for Heroes operates as a partnership with Wesley Mission. This strengthens and expands the capability of the program and ensures the best outcomes for the veteran community. It combines RSL LifeCare’s rich history and experience with veterans and their unique needs, with Wesley Mission’s expertise in homelessness and mental health, suicide prevention and care for veterans
  • Wesley Mission has been successful in delivering community-based case management in key areas of homelessness and mental health.
  • RSL LifeCare funds and supports the program, providing housing options as well as specialist knowledge and expertise around caring for Veterans

What is Homes for Heroes:

  • Homes for Heroes is a non-clinical transitional program to assist veterans experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of homelessness to find a sustainable housing solution in their community of choice.
  • Homes for Heroes also aims to:
    • Assist veterans to link to support services dependent on their own goals and needs
    • Support veterans to empower themselves to live sustainably in their chosen communities
    • Assist veterans in accessing long-term and sustainable housing solutions
    • Explore the potential of family reconciliation
  • The program provides the stability, security, support and opportunity to get young veterans back on their feet.
  • The program works with other veteran services, such as Open Arms and RSL Defence Care in the support of veterans.
  • The services offered include wrap-around case management supports to assist and support homeless veterans access safe, secure and stable long-term accommodation in their chosen community through a recovery focussed program and with a person-centred approach.
  • The program currently operates at Narrabeen and Penrith

Who can access Homes for Heroes:

  • The services are available to veterans of contemporary conflicts, ex-servicemen and women post-1991, and the families of those cohorts, who are homeless.
  • Ordinarily, the veterans entering the program are referred to Homes for Heroes by word of mouth in the veteran community, other veteran services such as Defence Care, and other homelessness services.
  • Homes for Heroes accommodates around 20 veterans at any one time
  • Since its inception it has assisted approximately 100 young veterans

Media Contact: Belinda Toward, Apollo Communications, P: 0402 012 531, E: btoward@apollo.sydney

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