Starting to come together nicely

We sometimes feel like we are building the plane while flying and business is ramping up. Two key consultative groups have had their first meetings – Veterans Health and Wellbeing Advisory Group and the Veterans Business Alliance. We also had the first meeting of all stakeholders to discuss how we can all work together (Operation NAVIGATOR) to support the development of 'A Plan for the Phase after life-in-the ADF' for soldiers, sailors and aviators who may not know when they will be departing the ADF for the civilian world. We've had some fantastic achievement reports from the recipients of our grants program. Operation COMPASS is also about to recommence for a further 10 months. We recently signed an MOU with CQUniversity which will offer significant benefits for veterans and their families. We are finally seeing the completion of some leftover fit-out projects to complete our Home Base. Planning is well underway for our Grand Launch on Saturday 16 October – save the date!
We are impressed and a little daunted at the rate of increase in clients arriving at our Veteran Community Home Base in Oonoonba. However, we are working hard to ensure we can support everyone appropriately while still settling in the building issues and establishing our SOPs. It's great to see Dirty Boots Café so well used and the catering service is proving a real hit. We can see some veterans use the café as the recon of what we do and after a few visits, come in to see how they can help out or to seek some support.
We've now had two of our key advisory bodies meet. The Veteran Health and Wellbeing Advisory Group is intended to support our efforts by providing valuable feedback on our wellbeing operations. The agenda goes along the lines of us briefing what we are doing, why and the results and the advisory group critiques our efforts from their separate perspectives. The Veterans Business Alliance has also formed with foundation members all being veterans in business in Townsville. Our goal is to ensure all businesses in Townsville recognise the benefit of employing a veteran or partner. The first meetings of these two groups were very well attended and set the scene.
Operation NAVIGATOR kicked off with the first meeting of all the key stakeholders involved in the transition process. We all got a good idea of where each organisation and person fits and what each of us considers the main issues. We have all agreed to come back for a day-long workshop in September to nut out the causes of the failure to transition safely which is experienced by some individuals and then to identify what we can do in our region to address them by working together. These findings will support the development of the plan each soldier, sailor and aviator should have before they get to the point where they are contemplating transition.
Most of our grantees have kicked off. The take-up of veterans and family members in the Life Skills Queensland Program has been terrific. The Veteran Retreat to Mandalay on Magnetic Island is oversubscribed and the mosaics and art programs have commenced. BrotherNBooks is planning for a Book Fair at Home Base in November and we are proud to announce BrotherNBooks now has the largest following on Instagram among all Australian veteran charities and communities (surpassing Mates4Mates, Swiss 8 and Young veterans). The TPI adventure heads off then also. Legacy has booked our Home Base facility for their big connections event in November.
Operation COMPASS is set to restart after the Federal Government extended it for another year. We have begun the work to ensure we can make the most of the one-year extension. There was a bit of unfinished business that was to be passed to others to complete at the end of FY 2020-21, but with this activity continuing for a further 10 months, much of that can be progressed.
In the succession of MOUs being signed we now also have an MOU with CQU. This will prove very valuable to the veteran community. CQU has campuses all over Australia, provides courses starting at the certificate end through to higher degrees and will be our partner in developing a comprehensive evaluation program to ensure we maximise the limited resources to achieve the best effect for the veteran community.
The fit-out of the building is coming along finally. The solar on the roof has now been completed and turned on. We are waiting to see what the savings will be. The audio-visual fit-out is also almost complete pending a few parts that went astray!
Planning for our Grand Launch is coming along nicely. We'll have many of the groups and activities that utilise our Veteran Community Home Base on display, including a pipe band and a choir. These two groups will be supported by the 1RAR Band. A hut will display the work of the Veteran Community Grant Recipients. We've got a few veteran-owned businesses keen to show their goods. This is the real launch of our capability. The foundations will be set.