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July 15, 2020

RSL DefenceCare’s Move to RSL LifeCare: Enhancing Veteran Support

A FREE-of-charge service helping Australian veterans and their families in times of injury, illness or crisis, is transferring operations from RSL NSW to RSL LifeCare from this month.

Known as RSL DefenceCare, the service helps existing and ex-service Defence personnel and their families with Department of Veterans’ Affairs claims, advocacy at Veterans’ Review Board hearings and financial assistance. It also provides counselling, support during a crisis or the death of a loved one, housing assistance for veterans experiencing homelessness and social connection through phone calls and visits.

“RSL LifeCare was established in 1911 as a home for ageing ex-soldiers living in poverty, and it has since broadened its services to help those in need through every major conflict since then,”
– RSL LifeCare Chairman Andrew Condon

In the 2019/20 financial year DefenceCare:

  • submitted 1,747 claims to the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) for 539 veterans
  • reviewed and represented 532 veteran appeal reviews and hearings
  • received 5,628 telephone enquiries
  • embarked on a further 190 new DVA referrals to action
  • provided 1,274 episodes of welfare support for 739 veterans.

RSL DefenceCare relies on fundraising, donations and grants for its $3 million annual budget.

DefenceCare was established in 2012 by RSL Welfare & Benevolent Institution (WBI) and from 2019 has been delivered by RSL NSW under licence. RSL WBI was created in 1964 to help veterans and their families affected by their military service. The organisation’s objects are outdated, and it will voluntarily wind up later this year.

RSL LifeCare Chairman Andrew Condon said RSL DefenceCare presented a unique opportunity for RSL LifeCare to expand its charitable purpose of caring for and supporting veterans in need.

“RSL LifeCare was established in 1911 as a home for ageing ex-soldiers living in poverty, and it has since broadened its services to help those in need through every major conflict since then,” he said.

“Delivering DefenceCare services strengthens our ability to enrich the lives of both older and younger veterans.

“From a veterans’ perspective though it is important to reassure them that they should see little or no change to what they have always been used to with DefenceCare.”

RSL NSW Acting State President, Ray James, said transferring DefenceCare to RSL LifeCare would allow the RSL to return to its original purpose of supporting veterans’ and their families’ through camaraderie and commemoration activities and by connecting them with support services.

“The RSL has a long and rich history of commemorating the sacrifice that hundreds of thousands of Australian veterans have made in theatres of war over the last 100 years, and connecting ex-service personnel with a sense of pride and camaraderie,” he said.

“That is what we do best and service delivery is what RSL LifeCare does best. They have the scale and resources right across NSW to deliver quality services for veterans, given they have been doing so for more than 100 years.

“RSL NSW is proud to be working collaboratively to facilitate the transfer of RSL DefenceCare to our members’ partner charity, RSL LifeCare, ensuring the next generation of Defence personnel receive the support they need and deserve.”

RSL WBI’s President, Geoffrey Evans, was equally supportive. “RSL DefenceCare has helped thousands of veterans and their families in crisis since launched by RSL WBI in mid-2012. The Trustees appreciate RSL LifeCare’s commitment to continuing what is a vital service for those who have sacrificed so much for their country.”

About RSL DefenceCare

Serving in the Australian Defence Force can have a significant impact on health, wellbeing, and quality of life during and after service.

Service men and women can suffer physical and mental illnesses and injuries from their Defence service, particularly if it involves deployment to war zones. This can have a significant impact on family members supporting and caring for an injured or ill veteran.

Some can find it difficult to transition to civilian life. Finding a new job, dealing with mental and physical injuries or worrying about finances can lead to significant stress and trauma.

Sadly, some members also lose their lives while serving, shattering the hopes and dreams of their families, especially their partners and children.

RSL DefenceCare’s aim is to help them and their families get through tough times through the provision of care and assistance.

One focus is to support current serving veterans during their transition to civilian life, accessing entitlements under the three legislated compensation Acts managed by the DVA.

Recent research has shown transition from service to be one of the most vulnerable times in a veteran’s life and the most important to ensure they receive the information, connections, support and entitlements needed to optimise the next phase of their lives.

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Undertake a participating certification through the RSL LifeCare Earn and Learn Incentive Program1 and you could be eligible to have your learning fully funded.

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