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ESOs
Supporting
the Veteran Community

Introduction


Australia's ex-service organisation (ESO) community is a network of groups offering extensive support to veterans and their families. These organisations act as a safety net, providing advocacy for accessing benefits, welfare support in times of need, help with navigating complex systems, and crucial social connections. They foster camaraderie and a sense of belonging, allowing veterans to connect with others who share their experiences and understand the unique challenges faced after service.

The Ex-Service Organisation Round Table (ESORT) is comprised of the leadership of some of Australia's national ESOs. They advise the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

ESOs are located all over Australia. Some are national-focused, and others are specific to regions only. Each has a particular demographic of the veteran community as its constituency and performs various functions supporting that constituency. The majority of ESOs are volunteer-run organisations dependent on donations and grants. 

We have compiled a listing of many website details of ESOs around Australia.

Townsville Region

Townsville and the region around it have more veterans per capita than any other region in Australia. The 2021 Census confirmed a veteran in every sixth household in the Townsville Census Region, compared to one in twenty for all of Australia. 

Townsville has many ESOs ranging from several RSL sub-branches to smaller all-volunteer organisations. Each plays a special role in providing specific services to a particular grouping of veterans. Some cater for families also, but not all. Most intend to unite like-minded and like-experienced veterans (serving and/or ex-serving) for friendship and support. Many of these ESOs have activities they conduct at The Oasis Townsville, and they have free access to the facility.

The Townsville ESO Community meets routinely to identify the biggest challenges for our region. This list is updated after each meeting. 

Self-Referral Resources

The mission of The Oasis Townsville is to help veterans and families find the information they need to make informed decisions. However, we recognise that everyone approaches finding the right information differently. There are numerous approaches to finding what you need. Some want to see what they can find by themselves, others are happy to walk right in and ask for assistance. 

 

Oasis Townsville is currently running Operation NAVIGATOR, a project to develop an app that will help guide veterans and families to the right resources quickly.

 

These links below may be useful for self-referral for those keen to do their own research.

DVA Advocacy

If you need help accessing DVA services and lodging claims, an advocate may be available to help you. Advocates largely work for ex-service organisations (ESO) and are trained to help veterans (serving and ex-serving) access services and payments. Generally, these advocates are members of the veteran community. They are not Defence or DVA staff members. They are generally volunteers.

We have formed a Community of Practice (CoP) for advocates in Townsville. The CoP groups like-minded advocates in the Townsville region so that experiential learning can occur more rapidly by interacting and hearing each other's challenges. It also gives us a greater chance of securing training offered by ATDP/DVA in Townsville to develop our advocacy capability. 

Opportunities to Have a Voice in 2024

 

  • 5-7 March.   Joint Defence and Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy Webinar. Webinars to consult with the Veteran community about the Defence and Veteran Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

  • 12-13 March.   Veterans’ Families Policy Forum Brisbane.  This is a DVA consultative event with Veteran family members which provides a platform to raise issues directly with the Australian Government, generate ideas to solve issues facing these communities and co-design DVA products and services. The Forum informs future policy and service delivery options and builds networks across the represented cohorts. This year’s Forum will include male family members.

  • 16 April. Townsville's Key ESOs, who are the largest service providers to the Veteran Community, will meet at The Oasis Townsville to confirm the biggest issues facing our veteran community, prioritise them and ensure we are all prepared to represent them to visitors who may have any influence over solving them for us. 

  • 30 April. Understanding the Veteran Experience (UVE) Off-Base Workshop, The Oasis Townsville Townsville. DVA would like to: • better understand the lived experience of recently transitioned ADF members • provide DVA with a deeper understanding of military life • better inform the Department's
    organisational culture, future policies and service delivery. DVA is looking for veterans who have transitioned in the last five years (you do not need to be a DVA client). Morning tea and lunch will be provided. Please register your interest to engagement@dva.gov.au   An A4 Brochure for Distribution 

  • 2 May.  Understanding the Veteran Experience (UVE) On-Base Workshop, Lavarack Barracks Townsville.  The UVE provide DVA staff with a deeper understanding of the lived experience of serving members and the unique nature of military service. The workshop is conducted in focus group style, with serving members engaging in discussion and activities to explore their experiences and ideas, a shared lunch follows this and then a base tour or static display to give DVA staff a hands-on understanding of the risks and weights that serving members deal with every day.

  • Week of 29th April - 3rd May.  Understanding the Veteran Experience Off-Base Workshop, Townsville.  The UVE off-base workshops help to connect DVA staff to the Veteran experience better. The engagement will also help to inform DVA’s organisational culture and future policy and service delivery.

Other Significant Issues

Veterans Legislation Reform

For those interested in the details of the Reform, check out these documents and sites:

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