Books, Scuba and Coffee
Townsville's Coolest Bookfair did it again with over 3000 customers and over 6000 books sold – well done to BrothersNBooks. The Oasis has been supporting ACU in establishing a facility to support veterans and partners getting into uni. Our Veterans Business Alliance (VBA) is growing strongly. We've had some high-profile visitors at Home Base taking an interest in our efforts. Having been in our new Home Base for a year, we have engaged some external professionals to help us evaluate our operations. We will follow up on the raging success of our last Scuba Diving Expedition with another this month. Hut 3 will be named by a 101-year-old veteran. We will relaunch Dirty Boots Café and launch our coffee blend – guess what it's called?
Hats off to Dylan Conway and Kristy Gold for Townsville's Coolest (and BEST) Bookfair. It is incredible to see so many people looking to lay their hands on hardcopy books. Over 4 hours, Home Base saw wall-to-wall people, even lining up at the door before it opened, to buy donated books. What was most satisfying was to see the number of young people, many of whom were serving veterans, looking to buy a book.
Australian Catholic University (ACU) has come to town. They have a proven concept that gets veterans and their partners into uni studies. Veterans will get a uni entry score based on their service experience, skills and training will be helped prepare for the effort involved to get a degree to commence an ACU course, most of which are online. ACU is one of Australia's largest universities and one of the best with online studies and has proven getting veterans together to support each other is a game changer. They have a facility prepared at 150 Walker Street for veteran community use.
The Veterans Business Alliance (VBA) has taken a jump forward with the addition of some high-profile businesses that appreciate the value of having veterans working for them and supporting them. Recent additions include Aurizon, TEi, Downer, and Accidental Health and Safety. These businesses all belong to the PM's Employment Program and have pledged to support veterans through a journey to where they best fit in civil employment. They acknowledge it may not be with them but that the veteran or partner is more likely to get a feel for what they like and are good at by exposure to life outside the wire.
The visitors are piling up. Not only Minister Keogh, within weeks of his assuming the job as Minister for Veterans Affairs and Defence Personnel, but President of the NSW RSL, a member of the ESO Round Table (senior level advice to DVA); and President and CEO of Queensland RSL with whom we already have a close relationship with and several MOUs. This month the Repat Commissioner has been enquiring to visit also.
We are out to find out what the veteran community thinks and take from that how we might develop in the next phase of our development of Home Base for the Veteran Community. We've engaged CQU to run focus groups and nominal groups, and interviews and a survey to give us a qualitative evaluation. We have a professional consultancy engaged by DVA to support a quantitative evaluation of our operations to ensure we are providing the best bang for the buck we get from all sources, especially government, donors and sponsors. We'll bring all that together in the last few months of the year and refocus in 2023.
We have another Scuba Diving Expedition this month. They are proving very popular, with spaces filling very quickly. Those who participate not only come away with a qualification but some good mates from a group they have spent a few days with, out on the open water. It’s a great opportunity to be among those who appreciate and respect each other's service and, in many cases, sacrifice. Some heartwarming stories have come from this, and we intend to publish some of these amazing stories soon.
We will name PeeWee Hut 3 the 'Lil Somers Hut' this month. Lil herself, at 101 years old, with her family from all over Queensland, will give her name to the Hut. She will unveil the plaque on the wall and be presented with a memento of the occasion. She served in WWII in the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS) in Townsville in the anti-aircraft operations cell, responsible for designating friendly and enemy aircraft over Townsville airspace. We are very honoured and intend to make her proud of our efforts to support the entire veteran community.
Last but not least, we will relaunch a reimagined Dirty Boots Café. This will knock your socks off. We have established a close relationship with Ottos and will launch our coffee. Our coffee, called EKO, is Dominion coffee sold by Ottos, ground in Townsville and loved by all. We will reopen on 22 August with entirely new décor, furniture, feel, and food. Come in a buy a 556 (small), 762 (standard) or 50CAL (large) EKO (Early Knock Off - for the uninitiated!). We even have a 9mil for the short macchiatos.