Our philosophy is simple and is derived from the experience of Operation COMPASS (the National Suicide Prevention Trial for Veterans and their families which commenced in Townsville in 2017 and is continued by The Oasis Townsville as a program). It is the philosophy for happiness first articulated by 18th Century German philosopher Immanuel Kant but has been used in various forms by many others since. Our form is:
Happiness is pretty simple:
someone to love,
something to do, and
something to look forward to.
A thriving, respected, vibrant, and well-supported veteran community enhancing the economic and social prosperity of Townsville.
The Oasis Townsville is to provide a 'single front door' for all members of the ex-serving veteran community in Townsville, including their family and friends, as well as current ADF members who have begun thinking about transition to connect and integrate into the Townsville Community.
An environment that is veteran and family-friendly and welcoming, where members of our community feel respected, facilitating social connections and a feeling of personal safety.
A service that facilitates comprehensive access by veterans and families to services that support the 10 Veteran Community Needs.
An experience that is rewarding, meaningful and enjoyable for all members of Team Oasis.
A culture that supports veterans supporting veterans and the pursuit of good ideas to do this better.
The Oasis Townsville provides a relaxing and well-appointed, fully PWD-compliant Community Hub with space/huts for connections activities to be conducted by members of the community supported by a cafe, free internet access, a full kitchen and a library, among other amenities. The aim is to facilitate Veteran Community members to connect with others in our community, and the civilian community, by being involved in activities of mutual interest, in a place where they feel safe, respected and comfortable.
Our main service is a Plans and Linkages Program that satisfies any or all of the 10 Veteran Needs of clients who are members of the Veteran Community.
From Homebase we provide these services:
A Personalised Referral Service for veterans and partners to connect them with the best services they seek.
A Jobs Service focuses on referring community members to opportunities related to education and skilling, employment, business ownership and volunteering. These are enhanced by our Veterans Business Alliance (VBA), an organisation comprised of businesses whose members have pledged to support veterans and partners to integrate into the civilian business community and workplace.
A Transition Plans Service focuses on supporting veterans and their support network to plan and prepare for their inevitable separation from the ADF, early in their careers in the ADF.
Our Oasis Information Briefing Series is conducted in our Huts at times that best suit veterans and their partners. These sessions provide general information that is of value to them based on when they are ready and need to hear it.
Our Outsourced-In-house Service, in which select/preferred service providers book space in our Services Hut with counselling rooms and a waiting room to enable our Plans and Linkages Officers to refer veteran community clients to services at Homebase when needed. This can be because of a client's needs or time sensitivity. These services currently include legal, financial, allied health, and compensation advocacy.
The serving and ex-serving veteran community in Townsville is recognised by the Townsville community as an important contributor to the economic and social prosperity of Townsville. There is widespread recognition among the veteran community in Townsville that they are well-supported locally and know where to get support when required. Every ADF member transitioning into the Townsville Community feels strongly supported and respected in all aspects.
By ensuring those who once served their country in the ADF and the families that supported them are best supported to succeed in the Townsville community. We do this by helping individuals and families plan for their future and by coordinating the advice, services, support, training, and engagement with and between other organisations and services. These organisations and services include Governments (including Townsville City Council, Queensland, and Federal Government (esp. Defence and DVA)), businesses and business organisations, NGOs, NFPs, charities and volunteer community-based organisations that have as their mission to affect the social determinants of health and wellbeing for the Townsville Community and that include the interests of the veteran community. Through this effort, every client is case managed and offered appropriate referrals in the 10 Human Needs, which are followed up on professionally until the outcomes sought are achieved.
Through an appropriately located and sized facility maintained and supported by contracted services, grant funding, and philanthropic business sponsorships and donations. The facility is run by a salaried workforce as the foundation of a capability for continuity, consistency and professional development, which is enhanced by volunteers who bring scale to the operation.
After accepting the proposal to create The Oasis Townsville, and before too much work was done on designs, it was decided that a Service Model was required to establish the requirement with greater fidelity.
The Service Model, which has developed considerably as a result of lessons learned along the way and evaluations conducted, is available here in its original form.
Noting the intention of the Federal Government to create 16 Veterans' and Families' Hubs along similar lines to The Oasis Townsville, this model may be useful to see the original thinking behind The Oasis Townsville. Our team are available to discuss any aspect of this model or the subsequent adaptations upon request.
Name and Logo
The name and logo of The Oasis Townsville are symbolic of the philosophy underpinning our mission.
An oasis is described in the dictionary as: a fertile or green area in an arid region (such as a desert); somewhere that provides refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast. An oasis is often associated with palm trees around a water hole. The area chosen for the site in Oonoonba had several palm trees which remain prominent on the site. In our view, the arid area is civvy-street, as it is often perceived by serving ADF men and women before transitioning out; and we see our HQ building in Oonoonba and the organisation that runs it as being the refuge and providing the relief.
We believe we represent a ‘junction point’ between two areas of operation (AO). We sit between a life inside the discipline of the ADF (inside the wire) and the 'chaos' of civvy street (outside the wire).
The framing of the title is intended to support the opportunity for any other group to create their own Oasis in their own area and simply change the last word to represent their area. For example, The Oasis Mackay. This would offer familiarity to service personnel who would simply know to head to ‘The Oasis’ to be supported finding what they are looking for in the area.
The logo is a clever pattern of interlinking colours. They represent similar, but not the same colours, as those of the Navy, Army and Air Force, blending with colours more likely to be found in the world outside the wire.
The neat symmetrical aspect of the logo demonstrates discipline of the ADF but in an artistic, colourful, and almost ill-disciplined way. That is a theme followed through in the naming of Dirty Boots Café.
The linking is significant to our mission in that the effect we want to achieve is all about connections. We link veterans and families to jobs, businesses, and services; and we facilitate the linking of the various elements of the ex-ADF community. These elements include Ex-Service Organisations (ESOs), associations, interest groups and individual veterans and families - to each other.
The idea for a 'referral hub' originated in the early 2010s from a collaboration of several of Townsville's veteran community leaders. They were concerned that the services provided by each of their organisations were dispersed throughout Townsville, related to specific types of service and in some cases to specific veteran demographics; and it was particularly difficult for members of the ADF transitioning and those already transitioned in the ex-ADF community to identify which ESO could help with any particular issue or circumstance.
The potential solution for a single entry point to support and for camaraderie gained significant momentum in 2016 with the offer of a building (old tennis courts on Ingham Rd near the Showgrounds) for 'The Services Hub' by the Townsville Mayor, Cr. Jenny Hill. However, this site presented problems in that it was only useful as a small meeting place and each ESOs would need to be represented or at worst they would need to have volunteers staff it. The ESOs then began to discuss an online Services Directory that would assist in finding the necessary services. It was recognised however that this did not encourage social connections which is one of the significant benefits of the ESOs and veteran associations. These issues confirmed the need for a staffed facility with significant meeting spaces.
The rise in veteran suicide caused an additional impetus to do something. In August 2016 the PM announced a national suicide prevention trial for veterans and their families to be conducted in Townsville to examine innovative ways of reducing the suicide rate in the veteran community. The trial became known as Operation COMPASS. The trial involved many of the ESOs and veterans and family members keen to do something about the suicide problem and in most cases were touched by someone they knew who died by suicide or was at serious risk. The lessons identified in Operation COMPASS led the Townsville veteran community to the same conclusion regarding a 'single front door' for redirection to an appropriate service.
In the lead up to the Queensland election in November 2017, the Labor Party adopted an unsolicited proposal for $5mil to refurbish the old Department of Primary Industries (DPI) building in Oonoonba, Townsville. They made an election pledge to do that and subsequently formed Government. The Oasis Townsville is located in the State Electorate of Mundingburra (with the 2017 changes to electoral boundaries) and Coralee O'Rourke won the seat and fortuitously was appointed Minister for Communities, Disability Services and Seniors. Ms O'Rourke was a very strong supporter to ensure the process remained on the right path to achieve the effect the veteran community wanted and needed.
As the work to re-design the 5000m2 site progressed, it was apparent that the Queensland Government grant would not be sufficient to complete the full redevelopment of the site but was sufficient to commence operations and provide a basis for growth. The Federal election of 2019 however, presented an opportunity to complete the project. Commitments were made by both major parties to provide the remainder of the funds needed to complete the Oonoonba Home Base. The Federal Coalition Government's commitment of a further $5mil was sufficient to ensure The Oasis Townsville was completed.
The LNP commitment also included $25mil to fund a further five similar wellbeing centres around Australia. This collection of veteran wellbeing centres is being developed collectively by DVA as a capability that was heralded by the Productivity Commission, "A Better Way to Support Veterans", 2019.
The Oasis Townsville's Homebase for the Veteran Community at The Village in Oonoonba was completed in May 2021. And we held our Grand Launch in October 2021.
Over the next few years, it is our intention to continue to honour our veteran community and strengthen our connections to World War II. We will be laying a Path of Remembrance with pavers purchased by members of our Veteran Community and we will progressively name the PeeWee Huts after a diverse range of Northern Queenslanders who served our country in World War II.