December 2021

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.

Home Base has just ticked over 1,000,000 person-hours of use in the first six months by veteran groups and organisations, and community groups that include veterans. Since the beginning of June this year we have seen a steady rise in use of the facility and November has been the biggest month yet. These figures do not include the big community events such as the Grand Launch on 16 October or Townsville’s Coolest Book Fair, both of which had over 2000 attend. Nor does it include customers of Dirty Boots Café, Wellbeing Program clients, or the increasing number of individuals dropping in to see and ask about the programs and support offered at Home Base, or just to feel at home.

Last month was exceptionally busy with three big events conducted. The biggest was Townsville’s Coolest Book Fair to which over 2000 people attended and bought over 4000 books. The book fair was conducted by BrothersNBooks and took up the entire Home Base. The entire Operation COMPASS Team was also regathered at Home Base for the first time since opening and relaunched the very successful #CheckYourMates Campaign targeting a lonely time of year for many veterans. It was fantastic to see so many of the people involved in Operation COMPASS over the last four years. There were many from the original Advisory Group and the Steering Group and from the community groups that received grants to prove how important strong social connections are to good mental health. We also had a Community Christmas Fair which was previously run by the local community from a garage, but this year was conducted at Home Base and allowed much greater participation - in air-conditioning! Notably this year a few veterans and partners joined in to sell their wares too.

Our Employment Program has also ramped up. It is impressive to discover the amount of employment support available to help veterans and partners get meaningful work, but the challenge is knowing where all that support is and coordinating and focussing it to achieve the best effect for individuals seeking work. This last month was very successful in this regard with briefings held at The Oasis Townsville by the Master Builders Association and the Advanced Manufacturing Hub. Both were well attended by veterans. The former had several excellent presentations by veterans from a construction company managing director to an apprentice. They were able to add relevance by imparting their own story of transition too. The latter brief also involved four Townsville businesses who have signed up to employ the veterans once qualified in the free TAFE Course – guaranteed employment. And the Veterans Business Alliance took another step closer to a formal launch in 2022 with a Charter agreed upon and planning dates set for next year. Our Job Vacancy List is growing quickly, and we are looking at ways to improve it and keep it particularly relevant to veterans and partners. It will be bought in to support members of the VBA in 2022.

Wellbeing case management has been a key discriminator for The Oasis Townsville with significant effort going to support the veteran community in all 10 Human Needs. There has been a significant trend in those seeking our support in their acknowledgement of the interconnectedness of the 10 needs and not focusing solely on ‘appropriate compensation’. Sometimes this needed a good induction conversation, but more frequently now veterans are recognising on the application that wellbeing is more complex, and we can support it more comprehensively. Another emerging trend is the significant number of veterans seeking support across all of the 10 Human Needs to better prepare themselves for the day they transition. It has been very encouraging to see many serving veterans realising the preparation involved and recognising the value to themselves and the ADF of their retention in the Service. We are particularly proud of this and it is gaining recognition in higher Army and RAAF circles.

Home Base and Dirty Boots Café close at mid-day on 24 December and reopen bright and early on Monday 10 January. Everyone deserves a great rest at the end of a hectic 2021. On behalf of all of Team Oasis, we wish everyone a very peaceful break so that everyone can come back in 2022 revitalised.