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The Government must look after our veterans

Australian World War II veterans and their families participate in a wreath-laying ceremony to honor fallen comrades and strengthen ties between the Australians and the Japanese in Hodogaya, Japan, Oct. 3 131003-N-KL617-037

The experience and treatment of our veterans is something very close to my heart. Veterans’ issues that helped bring me into politics in the first place.

Our veterans definitely deserve a much better deal.

Veterans’ Wellbeing Centres are a fantastic idea. To have a centre that partners with ESOs and other service providers, that concentrates the wide range of services that our veterans need, is excellent.

One of the many complaints I frequently hear from veterans is that services are not integrated and are too segmented to be used in concert or as required.

The veterans’ wellbeing centre is a good model that should be rolled out across our country.

The Government committed in 2019 to build veterans wellbeing centres in Townsville, Perth, Wodonga, Adelaide, Nowra and Darwin.

I remember seeing that $30 million announcement and thinking that, despite the complete lack of detail, it wasn’t a bad idea. Even a tired government can come up with a good an idea from time to time.

So, on budget night I looked with great interest to see how these centres would be funded, and in particular how much money would go to establish the centre back in Darwin.

Was it $10 million? It was less than that. Was it $5 million? Well, it was a little less than that. It was a grand total of nothing.

No money allocated to establish the veterans’ wellbeing centre in Darwin.

It’s a bit difficult to establish a centre offering concentrated and integrated support to our veterans with nothing.

I’ve been a member of parliament since 2016, and I’ve seen this Coalition Government up close for a while now.

I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. But this particular failure appals me in a very deep way, for two reasons.

First, how many times will this government make promises and then not deliver? When it will it finally feel a level of shame about its ongoing failure to deliver?

Second, when will this government start treating our veterans with a bit of respect?

Not long ago we had a Royal Commission announced into the suicide of our veterans.

But it took years of hard lobbying by people like Julie-Ann Finney and Heston Russell to get to that point.

And we have no way of knowing that the terms of reference will allow for a free and open inquiry.

The failure to fund the veterans’ wellbeing centre is another example of this government letting down our veterans.

So I call on the Government to live up to its commitments.

Fund the veterans’ wellbeing centre and start to show some real support for those who served and sacrificed for our country.

Look after our veterans.

Photo: MC3 Kelby Sanders, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Luke Gosling is the Federal Member for Solomon and a former Army Officer.

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