Increasing demand for collaboration from other organisations that care for veterans
It was a busy September at Homebase. Connections activities included modelling, archery and urban wall climbing, among the usual line-ups. And our program of information sessions, now called NAV Sessions, featured Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation’s Vets Hub presentations and interviews. Operation NAVIGATOR Focus Groups have been an outstanding success, with participation from a very wide range of veterans and partners with lived experience helping to refine the information needs of those preparing for transition. This month's big event is the ANVAM Persona Exhibition for the whole month at Homebase, launching with the 1RAR Band in support on 10 October. We will also be hosting Defence Health, and we’ll unveil the sponsorship of Peewee Hut 5. November will be busy, too. We’ll hold the 2nd of our Career Connections Showcases, this time sponsored by Regional Development Australia Townsville and NW Queensland. Social Prescriptions, as reported last month, have also taken off, with GP clinics all over Townsville now participating to benefit their veteran clients. And NTPHN has picked up our GP Training module to better prepare GPs for helping veterans. With the end of the 1st quarter of FY 2023-24, we can also confidently report the significant value of The Oasis Townsville to the Veteran Community Care Ecosystem. This is undoubtedly closely related to the increasing demands placed on us by other Commonwealth and State agencies seeking to coordinate care for the veteran community.
September 2023 was our busiest month on record with the number of activities and number of participants so far. We are now averaging 100 monthly connection activity sessions and almost 100 hours of activity at Homebase per week. Interestingly, the after-hours use exceeds the work hours use by as much as 3 to 1 on some weeks. This is a great validation of our digital access system and the exemplary behaviour of the users of Homebase for connection activities. Our client base has also risen significantly in the last two months, with the time spent with and on clients almost doubling.
Apart from the usual connections activities, we had three standouts that involved collaboration with other organisations keen to support our veteran community. These included Townsville Target Archers and Invictus Australia, Townsville District Scale Modellers and Lego Users Group, and Urban Climb Fairfield, thanks to Australia Post sponsorship. Between these three activities alone, we had over 1000 participants and visitors.
We are still figuring out the best times and frequency for our information sessions, which we now call NAV Sessions! Some have been in high demand, and for others, we have received feedback that the delivery time needs to change, especially when we find partners keen to join in. All that is what NAVIGATOR is about, and we’ll have it 80% settled by the time we start the Defence-sponsored pilot in February 2024. This last month, we have focussed on ‘sufficient income’ and Vets Hub briefs by Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC) and employment. To this end, the focus groups being held to refine the program of our one-day Solid Foundations Workshop have been hugely helpful. We’ve had very diverse groups get together to review the program and ensure we cover the essential info to prepare recently joined serving veterans, new to Townsville, for a productive career and to begin the early mental preparation for reintegration with the civil community when the time comes, so good decisions can be made on the way there.
This month will be as busy as the last. ANVAM (Australian National Veterans Art Museum) exhibition at Homebase will be the star attraction. The exhibition will run through 27 October and showcases portraits of veteran artists within the context of their creative space. The launch event is on 10 October and will be supported by the 1RAR Band. We will also ceremonially bring Defence Health into our fold as a strong supporter of our programs. Their name will be unveiled on Hut 5 on 19 October at Homebase. They join the ranks of two other of our strong supporters: QBE and DHA.
Further out is our Career Connections Showcase in November. The first one was a huge success, and this one promises to be even better. It is a great opportunity for our Veterans Business Alliance members to present themselves as the veteran employers of choice and explain why that is true. Regional Development Australia Townsville and NW Queensland will proudly sponsor this event. They won a grant for employment with our support. We are well on the road to ensuring the veteran community is considered first for employees in the NQ employment market.
Not only are our numbers ramping up rapidly in all respects, but the demand for collaboration is also significantly increasing. Our work with local GP clinics and allied health professionals has brought more veterans into our fold through the formal process of a social prescription, which is accessed from our website. As a result of 12 months of data collection and refinement, we are confident that for every dollar spent by The Oasis Townsville, we benefit the Veteran Community Care Economy by $2. That means fewer mental health problems and symptoms that go with that, as a result of our focus on connections, employment and support for planning for a veteran and their family’s future. A combination of this fact and the increasing demand by other government and non-government agencies to collaborate with The Oasis Townsville has led to an increase in clients seeking support and participants in our growing connections program. And the spiral of improvement and benefit goes on.