A new drop-in centre for veterans has officially opened with the hopes to provide support and comfort to both returned and active Defence personnel.
The City of Penrith RSL sub-Branch opened the sub-Branch Veterans’ Drop-in Centre this week, as President Mick McConnell spoke on the importance of mateship for people who join Defence.
“They’re going to join another family that’s away from their normal home life, and that is the Defence family,” he said.
“Those that are still serving or that have served know that defense is unique and there is nothing else like it anywhere else.”
Services like the drop-in centre are vital for helping those with mental health issues like PTSD by reducing social isolation through providing support and a place to have a cup of tea and a chat.
“The sub-Branch would like to add to that rehabilitation process by having this drop in centre available for their use,” he said.
“We don’t know how successful this program is going to be, but we’ve got to try and get it off the ground anyway.”
The drop-in centre will assist veterans with welfare advocacy and referral services, helping the transition back into civilian life and ultimately aim to reduce the incidences of homelessness and suicide within the Defence community.
Member for Penrith Stuart Ayres spoke with passion about the “profound impact” this service will have in Penrith.
“There can never be too many of these, it doesn’t matter if there is one here in Penrith, one in St Marys or one in the lower Mountains, it’s about providing accessibility,” he said.
“Make no mistake, the people that are going to march on ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day in the years ahead will look a lot different.
“We are putting more people into harms way than we have since the Vietnam War, and just because the word ‘war’ isn’t attached to what they’re doing, doesn’t mean they don’t see things that really damage their mind.”
Funding from Mr Ayres assisted with the purchase of a lounge suite and a coffee machine in the centre.
For more information, contact the sub-Branch on 4728 5225.
Emily Newton is the Weekender’s police and political reporter. Emily is also the Weekender’s Senior Journalist.