Opening Remarks – Burnie Veterans’ And Families’ Hub

SUBJECT: Veterans’ and Families’ Hub Opening in Burnie

MINISTER FOR VETERANS’ AFFAIRS AND DEFENCE PERSONNEL, MATT KEOGH: Well firstly I too want to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land that we’re all gathering on here today and my respect to their elders past, present and emerging and also extend that respect to all of our serving personnel and former serving personnel that join us here today as well as the families that support them. The first thing I really want to say is thank you to Andrew and the team that he’s assembled and worked together with the board of volunteers to bring this together. I just had a quick walk through and it is a wonderful, wonderful centre you’ve built. And I’ve had the great pleasure and honour. This is my third trip to Burnie. I think this might make me the Federal Minister who’s visited Burnie the most and I’m very proud to have that as a badge of honour. Going to the old centre as well, engaging with you, not just about the centre but also how we provide training to rural and remote GPs as well through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. There’s over 4,500 veterans and families across the north-west of Tasmania and the Centre that we’ve been able to fund here will support not just those in Burnie but if we look at the van behind us as well, veterans that are located all across the north-west and some of the most remote towns and villages of Tasmania where we find veterans. And that’s really important because it’s not just about veterans coming to a service it’s about the service going out to those veterans and families as well. And that does make it a unique model here. And I’m really grateful for that and the learning that you’ve been able to share with me on that journey and we’ve been able to apply that more broadly through some of the Veterans’ and Families’ Hubs that we’ve been rolling out now across the country. And I do want to acknowledge Gavin at a political level. This has been his baby as well and he’s been a great advocate for that under the previous Government and with me under the new Government as well and it’s been a great effort to make sure that we’ve brought this to fruition and I thank him for working closely with us after the change of government as well because his commitment was to the veterans in this community and we really appreciate that. But also that we have seen that this isn’t about the partisan nature of politics. This is a good example of where it’s about politicians working together for the benefit of our veterans and families regardless of political strike. And it’s great to have Barnaby here as the Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. Jacqui Lambie here as one of our Senators and of course Anne Urquhart as the Labor Senator covering this area as well, all coming together because we support veterans and families. Andrew spoke about the opportunity of not just providing the services that are primarily going to be located from here, working from here, but also other services and supports coming in and using this facility. This morning I had a great opportunity of announcing an expansion of our Open Arms mental health service support here in Tasmania. As I’m sure many of you know, and Jacqui’s been pestering me about this for a very long time, and understandably, many veterans have to go to the mainland to get access to acute mental health supports from Tasmania. And so recognising that, we’ve introduced a new program with Open Arms, an eight-week program followed up by a further four-week program for people who need it, giving that peer support and peer-led mental health support service, working intensely with groups of veterans. It’ll be available all through the year. It’s already started in Hobart. It’s going to end up running from Launceston and here from this Hub as well, in Burnie as well, providing that additional support to veterans with a parallel stream to support families as well, so that they can get better mental health support here, close to home with their families, with their other supports around them. We hope that that will mean that we don’t need to send as many veterans back to the mainland to access those sorts of services, or even more acute services, because we’re able to better support them here in Tasmania. This is the start of a program that we hope will be able to expand out across the country if we see the success that we’d expect to see doing this program in Tasmania, including here from the Burnie Veterans’ and Families’ Centre. It’s a great initiative and we’re very happy to be working with the Centre here, but very proud to be supporting with the $2.2 million from the Federal Government, the establishment of this Veterans’ and Families’ Centre working closely with the veteran community. Yet again, this is a great example of how with our overall Veterans’ and Families’ Hub program, it’s not a cookie-cutter approach. It’s not about dropping the same thing into places all around the country. It’s about listening to the needs and wants of veterans and families in each location and responding to that service requirement as they need it. And that’s what this Centre is going to be delivering. And very happy to be here once again to be now a part of the opening of this great Veterans’ Centre. So thank you to everybody that has contributed to making this become a reality. We look forward to seeing this flourish and bloom to support veterans and families to thrive. Thank you very much.

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