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June 2024

A Fitting Tribute to 3 Years of Operations at Homebase

At the end of this week, we will celebrate three years at Homebase with a Grand Open Evening. Last month, we had a few visits from key leaders in the veteran community and had our own representative at the DVA Female Veterans Forum. We are incredibly grateful for the overwhelming support we received from politicians, local dignitaries and business leaders for the story in the Bulletin last month regarding the savings we generate for the health economy. Our founding VBA members and significant contributors have agreed on a revised model for the Veterans Business Alliance. Operation NAVIGATOR is gathering steam, and we are starting to recognise the real information needs of young soldiers, sailors and aviators on their first posting in the ADF to Townsville. The next two significant events after the Anniversary Open Evening will be our Townsville ESO Leadership Collaborative meeting with some special guests; and our fourth Career Connections Showcase. And did we tell you we will begin our own podcast series soon?

We expect this year's event will be our biggest anniversary celebration ever with a Grand Open Evening this Friday 7 June. It’s hard to believe we’ve been at 1 Staging Camp Ave for three years, time as gone so quickly. This year we have opted for an evening event as the Night Craft Markets have been so successful. It is a beautiful time of the year and there will be so much for the whole family. For example, come and try Laser Skirmish and Velcro Wall, both for free, for young and old, or grab a bite to eat and watch others have all the fun.

We appreciate the support and encouragement received from the story in the Townsville Bulletin last month regarding the $2.5 saved per $1 spent at Homebase as a community centre. The Queensland Government recognises the strength of working more upstream of the mental health crisis because, despite efforts to help those with a mental health problem, the problem is just getting bigger. It is reflected strongly in the exposure draft of the new Queensland Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy that claims savings can be as high as $8 for $1. It’s been rewarding to see the confirmation of the significance of The Oasis Townsville as a hub for the veteran community evidenced by the use of Homebase by the likes of Open Arms, DMFS (previously DCO), Defence Families Australia, 3rd Brigade Human Performance Centre, and the emerging Townsville Advocacy Community of Practice, among other providers supporting veterans and their families.

A group of our foundation and key members met to review the VBA model in light of the changes to the PM Employment Program and some great suggestions received via Feedback. The VBA has been in operation for long enough for us to know what needs improvement, and with our early attempts at a Veteran Employer Maturity Model and the new Veterans Employment Commitment we thought now is a good time to revise the model. We’ll release details in early July. We are also exploring an opportunity to get closer to the Townville Chamber of Commerce to include a probable event at Homebase in 3rd quarter of this year.

Lessons from Operation NAVIGATOR are emerging and proving useful for development of our Oasis App and website to best guide younger and/or newer members of the ADF to satisfying their information needs. Attendance at the Solid Foundations Workshops has been slower than expected, but all other avenues are going exceptionally strongly.

Townsville ESO Leadership Collaborative will have its second meeting for the year in July, this time with interest from the Repatriation Commissioner Kahlil Fegan, DSC (Ret’d), DEPSEC DVA Andrew Kefford and Deputy Commissioner Queensland Tara Hatzismalis. Our last meeting is having a positive impact already with several influencers and decision makers in and visiting Townsville receiving the “Issues List”. It also proved useful for our contribution to a national forum on veterans' issues.

Put 24 July in the diary for our next Career Connections Showcase. The previous three have grown by 100% each time. This next one will have even more for ex-serving veterans, serving veterans doing a recon for transition no matter how far off, and all their partners. It will be especially valuable as we are seeing an increasing interest by big Defence industry as they plan moves to the biggest garrison city in Australia in the wake of the Defence Strategic Review. More opportunity to live and work in Paradise.

We are establishing a podcasting capability and intend to produce monthly podcasts by the end of August. This has been a dream for a while, but now, with equipment and the right expertise, we’ll help our community hear the great stories of those who have transitioned and thrived as well as the lessons from those who have not had a great ride. We have so many stories to tell with over 100 activities and 1000 people attending Homebase each month.

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