Below is the latest introduction of ONtarget Monthly Newsletter. If you would like to subscribe, head to the Home Page.
1 March 2021
We now have a Wellbeing Program Manager. The Nexus Team is well and truly up and running. We will open applications for a grants program in the next few weeks, looking for effective and sustainable ways to connect members of the ex-ADF community in NQ. Our office in the CBD is getting cramped with equipment in anticipation of the move to Oonoonba. Through all of this, the number of veterans and family members we are supporting is steadily climbing.
We completed the recruiting process last month to bring onboard Colleen Wing as our new Wellbeing Program Manager. Colleen has a wealth of experience in this field. While our approach is focussed on veterans and their families, many of the tools and techniques used in civvy street are very much applicable and very useful for the development of our efforts. We do not want to re-invent the wheel. The Wellbeing Team led by Colleen with Floss and Anita and our band of advocates will case manage an individual to achieve any or all of the 10 Human Needs we've identified. This includes meaningful work, strong social connections and respect and recognition.
The team we call the Nexus Team, at present five ladies who are all partners of ADF or ex-ADF veterans, has really kicked off very strongly. They are the backbone of operations at The Oasis Townsville. This last month has been devoted to preparation and training. These ladies have already demonstrated how they can significantly improve the effectiveness of the work of both the Wellbeing Program by supporting the back-office functions for the advocates. Their skills are also proving valuable in the management of the business of running the Home Base.
The planning for our Small Community Grant Program is almost finalised. We have modelled it on the very successful grants program conducted by Operation COMPASS over the last few years. This time the focus is on a more broad effect on the health and wellbeing of the veteran community. The key ingredient is the connection which is proven to be the remedy to all manner of other ills that adversely affect the health and wellbeing of the members of our community. We are keen to support connection with each other and with the Townsville community. We will be looking to award grants of up to $25,000 for the most effective projects/activities that reach well into the ex-ADF community and ones that demonstrate they are sustainable, not one-offs. We've heard of some great ideas already. Watch our social media and this website for announcements of the launch within the next few weeks.
The Home Base is coming along nicely. Our executive had an opportunity to visit the site recently with officials from the Queensland Government and it is really impressive. There is much still to do, however. We understand it is likely the main construction work will be completed by the end of March but there is still significant other work to get to completion sufficient for us to move in. The tender for the supply and installation of some items that must be in place before we occupy, many of which have significant lead times, have only recently been released. So while we are still hopeful of a move in by ANZAC Day, we expect we will move in May.
Through all of the anticipation of moving out of cramped office space in the CBD to our new Home Base, we have continued the essential operations of advocating for veterans and their families. Our client base is growing steadily. We have been particularly impressed with the recognition by clients that all 10 of the Human Needs we've identified are connected and it's not as simple as identifying one symptom and jumping at an answer. All of the other nine needs can also impact and contribute to ensuring we all have fulfilling lives. No matter what the issue, we will help navigate all the systems to identify the answer.
1 February 2021
Welcome to 2021.
We hope everyone had a good break and recharged for a busy year.
Although the doors of our temporary facility in the Townsville CBD were closed, our volunteers and staff had a busy Christmas / NY period with veterans needing assistance and advice. We hosted a very successful breakfast update for the entire ESO community on 9 December last year. The Nexus Team has been formed and is undergoing induction and training now, and we almost have a new Wellbeing Program Manager. The HQ in Oonoonba is apparently about two months away from completion – fingers crossed that means by ANZAC Day!
Our volunteers had a great rest over the Christmas and NY period. However, many of them handled calls from the veteran community for support. I am grateful for the effort of these volunteers and staff to support those who needed some form of assistance, despite their need for a rest also. It has been a difficult year for many and we have strong evidence that the veteran community in Townsville did well supporting those in need.
The ESO Breakfast Update at Rawdon Middleton VC Park across Staging Camp Avenue from The Oasis HQ in Oonoonba was a great success. We are very grateful for the strong support we have from the ESO Community. We took the opportunity to support the Open Arms #CheckYourMates and #Check5 Campaigns for the end of year season and took some great photos and video, including from a drone. We had over 60 attend the event from all of the larger active ESOs in Townsville.
Since the start of the year, we have run the selection process for the Nexus Team. We had more people express an interest than we anticipated, and the calibre of applicant was outstanding. We are only able to fund five part-time positions at present but expect we’ll be able to grow and expand this capability in the medium term. The five ladies selected have begun induction and onboarding. We also completed the interviews for a Wellbeing Program Manager and had some excellent candidates for this position also. We are close to finalising this and expect to announce a Wellbeing Program Manager by mid-February.
The building is coming along well. It’s largely at lockup now and work has begun to arrange fit-out and landscaping. Wet weather and cyclones notwithstanding, we are very hopeful we can occupy by the first week in April. The most important facility at start-up is Dirty Boots Café and arrangements for opening are well in hand.
6 December 2020
This will be the last ONtarget until 1 February next year. Hopefully by then we’ll be only weeks away from moving into our new HQ in Oonoonba. Having worked hard this year to be prepared for the move, we are ready for a good rest and then a busy couple of months with final preparations to occupy our new facility. This year has had its challenges, but through those we have made great headway, especially in employment. We are looking forward to hosting the Townsville ESO leadership at a BBQ Breakfast to give them an update on our progress, next week. Recruitment for a GM and Wellbeing Program Manager looks to have found a few good candidates. We are settling into the NQPHN reporting requirements to support the navigation of services for veterans and their families.
The HQ at Oonoonba is almost at lockup stage. The roads should be completed within the fortnight and with the arrival of the windows we should have Oasis at lockup by Christmas. We have 4 Regiment on standby to assist us with the move from 143 Walker Street to 1 Staging Camp Avenue. So by the time we all get back to work just after Australia Day we will be within weeks of moving - fingers crossed!
On the employment front we have been very fortunate to have the experience of Paul von Kurtz to show us the way. He has been doing this on his own for a considerable amount of time and has built a big network. We have taken the principles he has given us and applied them to our new and larger-scale employment effort. The major lessons from VK is that personal attention is required for everyone and accessing the most effective services is paramount. We’ll have our comprehensive program fully operational early in the new year.
We are very much looking forward to updating the ESO community leadership in Townsville on our progress and next planned steps. We are looking forward to a year of significant achievements in 2021 and having the entire community working together to support Townsville’s ex-ADF community.
Red Rock Recruitment have taken on the challenge of finding our GM and Wellbeing Program Manager. We have received several candidates for each job and will be working through the interview process in the new year to finalise our selection for these two most important jobs. We are also now looking for permanent part-time employees to establish a data management and referral centre, which we will call the Oasis Nexus Team. This team is central to the management of our data and reporting and making bookings for veteran clients. They will be an important tool for the wellbeing advocates.
Navigation of services for veterans is the centrepiece of the NQPHN contract. It has long been recognised that difficulty in finding and gaining access to the services and navigating the many services that are available, for those who have not had to work hard to find the services they needed while serving, is a key contributor to the onset of poor mental health and a decline in wellbeing. We are well advanced in establishing the programs and processes to achieve this objective. This will be a major effort from when we occupy the HQ in Oonoonba.
From the Board and Management Team at The Oasis Townsville we trust everyone will have a relaxing break at the end of 2020 and be well rested for a busy 2021. Thank you for your support – our online newsletter is now received by over 1000 supporters. Stay safe and we look forward to seeing everyone in 2021.
2 November 2020
With the new Queensland Government comes a realisation of the $1mil over four years committed by Labor for The Oasis Townsville. We have now advertised for a GM and Wellbeing Manager, both full time paid roles. We were thrilled to participate in the RSL Mini-Expo during Veterans Health Week and have taken onboard the suggestion of a few of the ESOs to have an update session breakfast before the end of the year. We are getting on with sorting our back-office functions in anticipation of moving in. Dirty Boots Café logo has been decided by popular vote. A few more underground things not marked on maps is causing some delays at Oonoonba. We’ll have a stand-down period over Christmas to give everyone a good break after a busy year - details on website soon.
The $1mil is to directly contribute to the operating costs of the new facility at The Village, Oonoonba. While we have been fortunate with grants, sponsors and donations, and achieved much with these over the past two years, it is more difficult to secure funds to just pay the bills to open the doors before the good stuff happens. We are very fortunate and grateful to the Queensland Government for this support, especially Les Walker, Aaron Harper and Scott Stewart who have been strong supporters. These funds will enable the employment of some part-time workers and also support the free use of our facilities for organisations and associations of the ex-ADF community that seek a place to meet for connections and camaraderie.
We have advertised for a GM and Wellbeing Program Manager and both adverts are live on SEEK now. Check out our Facebook page for the links.
It was good to have a stand at the Mini-Expo run by Townsville RSL. We were particularly pleased to see some of the grant recipients from Operation COMPASS present also and some of the GPs we’ve been facilitating the conduct of training to better help veterans through primary care and dealing with DVA. It is as always, a great opportunity to also connect with the rest of the ex-Service community. We took away the good idea of an info session which we will hold as a breakfast one morning in early December at Rawdon Middleton VC Park (across the road from the Oonoonba Home Base at 1 Staging Camp Avenue). We are even hopeful we can take a few of members of the leadership teams of some ESOs on a tour of the construction site (TBC). The date and details will be announced on the website soon.
Our new staff have been working hard to set up the back-office functions we’ve struggled to get up with just volunteers. For example, we now have a solid bookkeeping function established and we are working on induction processing and training to professionalise our volunteer operations. Dirty Boots Café logo is settled and on the website. Thanks for all who participated in the vote on Facebook to decide the logo. We are working hard to ensure it’s the first thing open when we are handover the building in Oonoonba. The building timeline is still early 2021. The builders have found a few things underground that were not expected which has caused some setbacks, but it would appear all moving forward now. Latest pictures on the website under Projects.
3 October 2020
We want to know which logo you think is best for Dirty Boots Café. We’ve hit a few more snags in construction at Oonoonba, but we are fighting through. We have been very busy completing the start-up requirements of the NQPHN contract, which will make us a stronger organisation to grow to meet the need of the ex-ADF community. We’ve been preparing for how we will manage the volume of those transitioning from the ADF out into Townsville – about 250 per year. And there are even more requests coming in for organisations to utilise the meeting rooms and connection spaces we have designed into The Oasis Townsville.
There have been a few construction snags, like Telstra boxes in places they weren’t supposed to be so some work stops until it is moved. We’re also a bit concerned about the big wet Livio is expecting this year! We’ve asked Department of Communities if we can have access to the café building to set up Dirty Boots Café and establish a small shopfront before the posting cycle. We need Staging Camp Avenue completed first and a fence to isolate the rest of the construction site. Fingers crossed, we would like to set up a temporary office and be able to get a brew at the café by mid-December.
The Northern Queensland Primary Health Network contract signed recently has got us working hard to strengthen our capability to be able to manage the potential flow of service personnel transitioning out of Lavarack Barracks and RAAF Base Townsville. To that end, we have been developing a page with links and information that will help our navigators and individuals transitioning. It’s a work-in-progress, but worth sharing now. See the link in this month’s ONtarget.
We are getting more enquiries each week for veterans and families groups with good ideas for projects that connect us with each other. We are encouraging and advising them on how to establish themselves. It looks like we’ll have to be good at scheduling the use of the 2 x 30 pax huts and the one 80 pax hut for meetings and activities.
1 September 2020
Our cafe at The Oasis Townsville in The Village is underway and it has a name! We have begun planning to ensure we are in a good place to begin bringing on volunteers who we have not been able to accommodate in 143 Walker Street office. We are very grateful for another significant donation. The induction of our new staff has gone well. We are in good shape for the big move to Oonoonba, hopefully by the end of the year.
We'll have Dirty Boots Cafe established as one of the first buildings to be completed in our new home in The Village at Oonoonba. We have a couple of veterans who run their own cafe already, so well experienced and they will trade at The Oasis Townsville under the Dirty Boots name. We are in negotiations now with a veteran-owned coffee distributor. Eventually. we'll have our own coffee brand when we find out what most of our patrons like.
Over the last couple of years, we've had many people ask to join us as volunteers, but unfortunately, we have not had a big enough operation or space to bring them all in. We are planning for a quick start upon arrival at our new home to expand and let everyone have a role. We hope to be ready to expand shortly after we move in.
The Chiefs Masters Rugby League Club has worked hard to raise funds for us to buy another video conferencing capability which will be essential to the Wellbeing & Advocacy Program. Noting the uptake of this in COVID19 era we thin this is the way of the future. We'll have veterans and their families able to talk to whoever can help in the comfort of The Oasis and with support to ensure the right outcome. Our sincere thanks to the Chiefs.
As Operation COMPASS has come over to The Oasis Townsville we also gained two staff. Ray and Leith have done a magnificent job at NQPHN and now work for us to make the Enduring Connections Campaign a reality with us. They'll also tidy up the remaining initiatives of Operation COMPASS before that National Suicide Prevention Trial ends in June 20201.
We've got 4th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery from 3rd Brigade at Lavarack Barracks signed up to help us with the move from 143 Walker Street to 1 Staging Camp Avenue when the building is handed over to us. We've accumulated lots of stuff. Remember Conquer the Castle gun run? 4th Regiment has the workforce and the trucks and the planners who can help us greatly. We are very grateful for their support.
3 August 2020
Things are moving rapidly at the new building in The Village. Operation FARMER ASSIST IV has just returned from Winton. We’ve taken on the finalisation and transfer to appropriate organisations of the last few projects of Operation COMPASS and been contracted by NQPHN to deliver improved integration for veterans into the Townsville community.
The new site is looking like a serious construction site now and we have been amazed how quickly Woolam Constructions and Newlands have progressed. Picture library is on The New Oasis Hub Project page and we hope to have some drone video of the developments this month.
The deployment to Winton for Operation FARMER ASSIST IV went well and the pictures are mounting up on Facebook. The weather was magic out west and the team enjoyed the work and the break.
On 30 June, the National Suicide Prevention Trial for the Ex-ADF Community (including families) finalised a number of transfers of initiatives to other organisations with a few residual tasks to complete. The Enduring Connections Campaign complete is the subject of a contract The Oasis Townsville now has with North Queensland Primary Health Network to prove the value of the ‘upstream’ activities envisaged by the Advisory Group and the Steering Committee at the start over 3 years ago. While most of the initiatives have been concluded by being passed to organisations that can give them effect, a few have a little more work to go.
We have over 100 clients for our advocacy services, almost hit the 20 mark for veterans we’ve found jobs for since September last year and we are flat out preparing for the transfer of operations to the new site. All COVID-19 compliant! We are very hopeful we will be operational at the new site by the end of the year to support the ex-ADF community in Townville over the Christmas – NY period.
3 July 2020
We are learning to live with COVID-19. The biggest news is our new Home and the roads around it at The Village are underway and we've made an application to name our street! We are also heading out West again on Operation FARMER ASSIST VII to support our farming community. The employment program is going gangbusters. And the emerging network of Veterans Wellbeing Centres is making progress.
Both Newlands Group and Woollam Constructions have begun work at the site of the new building in The Village at Oonoonba. It is good to see they are not dragging their feet either, work is moving quickly. It is understood they have a 6 day a week work plan. We have applied to name the street upon which The Oasis Townsville sits as Staging Camp Road in honour of the role the area had during WWII transitioning service personnel back into civilian life. More detail is on the new Oasis Hub Project page.
Our 7th expedition out West to support our farmers is on. Operation FARMER ASSIST VII is from 25 July to 1 August. COVID Plan is complete and we are looking for volunteers. These expeditions have been a great success and in high demand so get in quick. We don't necessarily take the first-in as first-served, as we need to be sure to identify the right mix of people and skills (or no skills!). It is exciting to be back on the road.
We are settling into how we will work with all of the agencies and employers involved in helping veterans and their families find work. We now have a Dashboard Counter on our Career Transition Program page. In the short time we have been operating and adapting to the job space we have done exceptionally well, better in fact than some other veteran programs around that have been operating for longer. We'll continue to adapt our role to best utilise the expertise of those who can place our candidates into meaningful work. We get outstanding support in this regard from Red Rock Recruitment.
And while our client numbers for those seeking Wellbeing Navigation in any or some of the 10 Veterans Needs (including compensation advocacy) we have also been encouraged by several applications from veterans seeking to become Wellbeing Navigators and Compensation Advocates with The Oasis Townsville. The Wellbeing Program is growing nicely.
We've now also created a project page for the DVA initiative to network the 6 Veteran Wellbeing Centres created as a result of the $30mil allocated in the Federal budget last year.
14 June 2020
We have been returning gradually to work at 143 Walker Street in the CBD but can't fit everyone in. So we have taken to rostering programs and staff on different days. But operations at home are full steam ahead. We've required everyone coming into work in town to complete the online training to obtain the Department of Health Certificate of Infection Control for COVID-19 which keeps us and our clients and candidates safe.
Our Service Directory Team have continued to develop the Directory and we've now formally added a Project Page on the website to position its introduction into service. It will be a 'learn and develop as we go' affair, but we have sufficient info now to say we've hit the tipping point. Next steps will be to make some of it available online for everyone.
Australian Veteran News provides some great info on their website and newsletter and have been running a nation-wide survey to understand how ADF veterans feel about their wellbeing. We are hoping to be able to access the info they collect to ensure we can help in the right way. Give it a shot it's on the Veterans' Issues Update page of the website.
Our client numbers have been rising and we are approaching 100 now. All the navigators and advocates are doing great work keeping their heads above water, and Chilli is gradually making it easier to work from anywhere and handover information so no process stoppages occur at our end. It's made life a lot easier by having prospective clients complete the online form that gives us enough info to ensure we identify the right navigators and advocates to help.
We now have an official joint Media Release from the Federal Minister of Veterans Affair, the Queensland Government Minister for Communities (also our Member for Queensland Electorate of Mundingburra within which The Oasis Townsville sits) and our Federal Member for Herbert (Phil Thompson) announcing the building will be complete and we will be in and operating by the end of October this year. See the media release on the Project Page. It's getting exciting! We even saw the Newlands Group signage go up on the fence this week, heralding a start soon.
We expect to see a quickening of activity now and be fully operational in our new home by the end of the year. None too soon.
14 May 2020
Woollam Constructions has been appointed to construct The Oasis Townsville in Oonoonba. They will demolish half of the existing DPI building and construct the five huts and the coffee shop. Newlands have already been appointed to do the roads, although we are wondering why that hasn't started yet?
Six Wellbeing Centres around Australia are all now underway. WA, SA, VIC and NSW RSLs have taken the lead in those states and Mates 4 Mates is taking the lead in Darwin. DVA coordinates the progress from this website.
The VNQ Awards Night will be webcast this Thursday 21 May and The Oasis Townsville has an entrant. You'll have to tune in to find out who and how they go. You can register to watch from your own couch.
Employment has slowed but wellbeing navigation (including compensation advocacy) has increased. We are now managing almost 100 clients and we are working to set up the whole case management system online so we can all do it from any computer and with various inevitable absences.
We are also working with a consulting company commissioned by DVA to create a User Guide. This Guide will provide access to essential information for all and varied stakeholders. This is an exciting project and one we are pursuing while we have the opportunity of movement restrictions.
2 April 2020
We'll cover COVID-19 (but not too much) and its Impacts on The Oasis Townsville; self-care; and our evolved 10 Human Needs Framework for Wellbeing Navigation. And the Building...
Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has hit the world and we hope that all of you are coping as well as could be expected. The Oasis Townsville is affected and we want to make sure our people are safe so we have closed shop front activity and all classes. Most of us are working from home. We have a very good IT system with MS Teams, Outlook, our own domain and a very powerful CRM that supports distributed work. We are still responding to anyone who completes the forms for an advocate or who is looking for work.
All activities planned for the next few months are postponed. We are especially sad to have to postpone Operation FARMER ASSIST VII. The Sewing and Craft Program has also ceased - for the time being.
An important job for us all is to look after yourself and those around you while we transition to a sustained isolation environment. We've started a Self-Care Page that we'll build on to help.
We are utilising a 10 point Human Needs Framework for wellbeing. It is a derivation of a number of frameworks used around Australia and the world. Importantly, it brings our efforts closer to the Joint Transition Authority which is due to commence operations in July this year. We think if all 10 of these needs can be addressed, we'll have a bunch of happy clients. Over the next few months, we'll be building the web pages. We've started 1 – Meaningful Work; and 2 – Good Mental Health and posted them in draft, intended for further development.
We are still hopeful that a major contractor will be selected in the next couple of weeks and we might see some construction effort at the site in Oonoonba. However, in the current crisis, we appreciate things may be delayed. Let's keep our fingers crossed that we are still able to move in around midyear as we recognise that the demand for this concierge service is only increasing as the current crisis takes hold.
2 March 2020
Wellbeing Navigation is the centrepiece of our service. We're working towards a single-entry point and from there we'll refer to experts in everything from financial management and compensation claims, to housing and employment. Some of the experts in some domains are available through our local ESOs which is a good place to start for any member of our ex-ADF community. We know which ESOs help who and with what. Our Wellbeing and Advocacy Program is growing quickly with over 70 clients now being supported. On the employment front, we've been very successful as a newly established service. Our Employment Manager, Paul von Kurtz is now supported by a small team of two volunteers and is working hard to develop our job placement capability. With the Red Rock Recruitment MOU, and others in the wind, we're learning quickly and have had some big wins already. Our Employment Program is fast becoming one of our major activities. Operation FARMER ASSIST planning has commenced. Our first expedition for 2020 will be over ANZAC Day at Winton, after the enthusiasm for attendance by the team at ANZAC Day Winton last year. The sewing program has expanded with an experiment now being run for those who would like to quilt. We hope to have a new class developed soon to include in the program. Hounds4Healing are oversubscribed at present but there is always an opportunity to re-prioritise if anyone needs help sooner rather than later. The work at the site of the new building in The Village has commenced. The first sod was turned on 7 Feb and the fencing has been erected around the site. Roads will begin soon and we should know who is the managing contractor for the construction of the buildings by the end of March. And we developed a FAQ page, as we get to recognise what the main questions are, we'll add answers.
6 February 2020
The year is off to a great start. There is a feeling of re-invigoration in the air as we get back to work. I hope everyone had a good break after a tough year. In late January we signed two MOUs. One with Volunteers NQ which has us working closely together to ensure the best experience for veterans and their families. And we’ve signed an MOU with Red Rock Recruitment who have been very attentive to the needs of the veterans we have sought their help to get a job for and been successful too in find placing our people in jobs. They understand the uniqueness of ADF service. The Owner’s son recently transitioned out of the ADF and has firsthand experience. Very useful! We’re also spent much of the first weeks catching up on where the applications to DVA stand for many of our clients. We have the capacity to help more, with six working advocates and two mentors/case managers, so if you know of someone who needs help with wellbeing or compensation please direct them to our office at 143 Walker Street. We’ve begun planning the next Operation FARMER ASSIST for when things cool down a bit out west! And we are very grateful to the Rotary Club of Townsville Central who donated to allow us to do another trip to Winton this year. And already this year we’ve had several people undertake courses, learning everything from professional volunteer management in Cairns to wellbeing navigators who can help veterans and their families with all aspects of wellbeing and settling into civvy street. The Sewing and Craft Program has started, and we hope to add more connections programs as the year progresses. If there is something you are keen to learn or do as a hobby and you have a group who just need a little support to get off the ground, let us know and we’ll help. And finally, the building in Oonoonba is not far away. We expect the roads to begin by the end of February or early March and the main constructions to begin when the wet season is over as current DPI admin building needs to be cut in half!