Home Base getting busier by the day
We are now averaging over 1000 visitors per month to our Home Base for the Veteran Community. The Free Queensland Government legal advice for the veteran community provided by Townsville Community Law is proving a big hit. The Grants Workshops for ESOs and community groups were very well received, and we have more arranged in the months ahead – see What’s On. Some amazing employment and education initiatives are rolling out – the latest being the advanced manufacturing opportunity to get veterans trained and employed immediately. We have the Royal Commission in Townsville from 20 June and the Commissioners are set to visit The Oasis Townsville to see our operations. All systems go for a re-enactment of our Grand Launch with our Anniversary Open Day on 25 Jun – put it in the diary. Our coffee and banjo breakfasts are a big hit, even with our local members at State and Federal level. Do you have our app yet?
Our 1st Anniversary approaching fast and getting busier
It’s hard to believe how fast we are approaching the first anniversary of taking ownership of our magnificent veteran community centre at Oonoonba and celebrations are in the wind. We are preparing for the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide to come to Townsville on 20 June. We’ve had a fantastic uptake of positions on our Grant Preparation Support Workshops coming up this month. Our Veterans Business Alliance is taking off. We have Townsville Community Law doing a trial for a free legal service from Home Base. We are also preparing for the second of the BrothersNBooks highly successful “Townsville’s Coolest Book Fair”. Our Craft Fair is also well advanced in preparations. The scuba activity being planned for next month is very popular the team are getting ready to trial the activity we found most sought after by younger veterans. We have begun collecting KPI to prove to ourselves (and pinch ourselves sometimes) how successful the concept of our Oasis really is. And the activities on What’s On are growing strongly.
Our connections activities utilising the huts at Home Base have started off quickly despite the Omicron scare of February. The Veterans Business Alliance met for the first formal networking meeting and it was a great success. We have finalised the details for the promised Operation COMPASS Grant Preparation Support Workshops to begin in April. The new Unit Welfare Officers at Lavarack have been bought up to speed on how we can support their efforts. The hunt for WWII service personnel names for the huts is back on in earnest. Get ready for the next Oasis Community Markets in April.
Off to a flying start to the year
Well, we are off to a flying start with a little bit of a dampener from the rise of Omicron. We are still operational and focusing on safety while providing the services we can to the veteran community. The big news is we have a new Connections Coordinator. And we are in the final stages of launching our own coffee brand. The Employment landscape is also filled with opportunities. This month we will hold our first formal Veterans Business Alliance networking meeting at Home Base. We have just signed off on the development of an Uber-like rating system for our service providers based on our smartphone app. We've made some enhancements to our Hut Booking System to make it simpler and safer for all, including ourselves as usage numbers are getting big.
Our most productive month yet
Activity at Home Base in the last month has increased again with community groups and events, showing a steady rise over the first six months of operations – 1,000,000 individual hours use in 6 months. Three big events last month included a community Christmas Fair, Townsville’s Coolest Book Fair and the relaunch of #CheckYourMates for Operation COMPASS. The Employment Program has also ramped up with two key industry briefings well attended by veterans and the Veterans Business Alliance (VBA) agreeing to their Charter. Our Wellbeing Program has seen two significant trends which are very promising – more veterans looking for more than compensation support and more looking for support before committing to transition from the ADF. This is the last update for 2021. It’s been a busy year for everyone and made more difficult by COVID-19. We hope you all have a great rest, a peaceful Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
The real work has begun after the Grand Launch
The Grand Launch was an outstanding success and went exceptionally smoothly with over 2000 attendees. Operation NAVIGATOR preparations are going well and we expect to back brief workshop participants at a recall by the end of the year. Operation COMPASS has lit up again with the Department of Health committing to funding for a further year, although funds have not been forthcoming yet. We have some great stories from the veterans groups that received grants – Oasis Art was the stand out this month. We are also very grateful to the Army Rugby Union Old Boys for a further donation this year of $15k and a grant from the Morris Family Foundation of $20k to enhance our smartphone app. We've created an intro video to explain who we are, what we do and where it all came from, available on the home page of the website. Speaking of websites, it's undergone a facelift based on feedback and the need for more options for navigation. Check out the Testimonials Page. Don't forget our Christmas Craft Market and Townsville's Coolest Book Fair put on by Brothers N Books at Home Base on 27 November – we've already received massive book donations.
Excitement is building for the Grand Launch in Veterans Health Week on Saturday 16 October and all the planning is coming along nicely. We have added a testimonials page, seeing what clients, customers, visitors think is what keeps us going. We had a very successful day Chalking about Mental Health and the evidence is still all over the concrete at Home Base. We've been working closely with Rotary Club of Townsville Sunrise and they are sponsoring a few veterans to learn and build a BBQ furniture set for us at Studio Dubbeld, which has also been a strong supporter. And we are honoured to be the hosts of the Coolest Book Fair in Townsville on 27 November conducted by the very successful BrothersNBooks.
Starting to come together nicely
We sometimes feel like we are building the plane while flying and business is ramping up. Two key consultative groups have had their first meetings – Veterans Health and Wellbeing Advisory Group and the Veterans Business Alliance. We also had the first meeting of all stakeholders to discuss how we can all work together (Operation NAVIGATOR) to support the development of 'A Plan for the Phase after life-in-the ADF' for soldiers, sailors and aviators who may not know when they will be departing the ADF for the civilian world. We've had some fantastic achievement reports from the recipients of our grants program. Operation COMPASS is also about to recommence for a further 10 months. We recently signed an MOU with CQUniversity which will offer significant benefits for veterans and their families. We are finally seeing the completion of some leftover fit-out projects to complete our Home Base. Planning is well underway for our Grand Launch on Saturday 16 October – save the date!
Community coming together at Home Base
We have had a very busy month. Apart from visits by the new Minister for Veterans Affairs, Andrew Gee, we also had the Minister Assisting the Premier on Veterans Affairs Bart Mellish. We have been very fortunate to secure some substantial grants and sponsorships. We also hosted the second of our monthly Wellbeing Community of Practice Morning Teas which had the Home Base buzzing with almost all the carparks full. Our grants program grantees have all begun their connections programs. Our own Connections Program is humming with some activities being run by The Oasis and others just using Home Base for the purpose it was designed for – gatherings face-to-face to connect. In the next month we have some significant activity to integrate Defence and veteran community efforts to support the wellbeing of the veteran community. And planning for our Grand Launch on Saturday 16 October is well in hand.
Employment Program is up and running
Our Veteran Community Grants program was successfully launched with eight fantastic ideas for connecting members of the veteran community with each other and with the broader Townsville community. We have recruited an Employment Coordinator who commences work this month and who will be our connector to the significant number of organisations involved in helping veterans find meaningful work. Commander 3Bde held his Commander's Update Brief at The Oasis and introduced all of his COs and RSMs to our emerging capability now resident at our Home Base at 1 Staging Camp Avenue and to Operation NAVIGATOR. The building and fit-out are edging closer to completion. We're preparing for a Grand Launch on Saturday 16 October at the beginning of Veterans Health Week 2021.
Arrived at Home Base, at last!
From 1 June we are complete at Home Base Oonoonba. There are still quite a few workers around 1 Staging Camp Ave, finishing off on a few building projects. The Grants Program is almost finalised with eight applicants successfully making it through to selection. The next big activity we are undertaking is a Veterans Adventure Camp in partnership with Outer Limits Adventure Fitness. We are also expanding the Connections Program now that we have room. This next 6 months will be very busy for us all at The Oasis Townsville while we settle in and establish a new battle rhythm, but we will be ready for a Grand Launch in Veterans Health Week.