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.
Both Minister Andrew Gee and Minister Bart Mellish were impressed along with a raft of other visitors from both the ESO and Defence Community. We had an impromptu meeting of Phil Thompson's Defence Forum at Dirty Boots and all the ESOs in attendance had a good opportunity to discuss their issues with Minister Gee.
We are very heartened by the strong support from the community in the form of much needed financial support through donations, sponsorships and community grants programs. We've received a DVA grant to put a solid roof over the assistance dog park, sponsorship by QBE for one of the five Peewee Huts, funds to enhance the connections program from Aurizon and even an AED for Dirty Boots Café presented by Rotary Club of Port of Townsville.
Our monthly Veteran Wellbeing Community of Practice Morning Tea is getting very big and was a huge success as always this last month. It was fantastic to see the networking going on by all involved from ESOs to Open Arms and ADF Transitions to several of our select service providers.
The grantees who were awarded funding from our NQPHN sponsored community grants program have all begun their activities. We are very keen to see the impact of these, especially those being conducted at Home Base.
Connections programs are growing quickly. We've got our own programs developing and others that are all organised and just looking for a place to conduct their activity. Our Connections Sewing Program is really picking up pace and proving very popular. We may need to add a few other days and we are about to invest in a few more sewing machines to use the room to capacity. The Veterans and Families Pipes and Drums have now met for three weeks in the evening, proving our ability to grant after-hours access simply and we've had the first few meetings of the Military Wives Choir. And very importantly we have a growing number of regular bookings from many Townsville ESOs to have meetings and catchups utilising the Huts. Everyone is very happy to be able to access Dirty Boots Café also and many have utilised the excellent catering service from Peta and Glenn, our veterans who run the café.
A very important and exciting development has been Peewee Hut bookings from ADF Transitions at Lavarack, the 3rd Brigade Human Performance Centre Transitions Course, and Open Arms to use our Veterans Home Base to conduct activities in a new, neutral and safe space for all. All of these organisations will be running activities at Home Base in August.
We are planning for our Grand Launch on Saturday 16 October from 1000h to 1400h. Please note the date in your diary. It will be a great day. More on that in the next ONtarget.