New research sheds light on Queensland's ADF family
FOR the first time, Queenslanders have a comprehensive picture of the size and needs of the state's Defence family including current serving personnel, veterans and their close relatives.
RSL Queensland has released the Defence Family Research Project (DFRP), which reveals that that almost 197,000 people in Queensland are serving or have served in the Australian Defence Force, and that an additional 480,000 Queenslanders have a connection to Defence through an immediate family member or friend.
RSL Queensland State Secretary Scott Denner said the organisation wanted to shine a light on the Defence family, its size, location, issues and challenges so that the RSL can better meet its changing needs and advocate on its behalf.
"What we knew anecdotally - and have now confirmed through this research - is that many of those leaving Defence need our support with employment and education, DVA claims, physical and mental health challenges, relationship guidance, financial advice, adjustment to civilian life, physical fitness and an ongoing sense of purpose," Mr Denner said.
"Most service personnel agree that their experience is unique and unforgettable, and that the experiences, skills anwhered discipline developed during their service shapes who they are.
"However, our research confirms that the transition out of Defence often brings great upheaval and change - they lose their job, income and career, their purpose and home, all at once. For many, this has a profound impact on their quality of life and wellbeing.
"Regardless of whether they choose to leave or are medically or involuntarily discharged, many struggle to find meaningful employment that uses their expertise. Many find their household income is substantially lower but they have more expenses in the civilian world, causing considerable distress for both the veteran and their family".
The Defence Family Research Project confirms that the critical concerns for veterans are: finding employment, trying to get DVA claims accepted, enabling their mental health, and dealing with family responsibilities and pressure.
"These are exactly the crunch points where RSL Queensland steps in," Mr Denner said.
"We have a growing range of services available to all in the Defence family and I'd urge anyone in need of help to get in touch sooner rather than later.
"For example, hundreds of veterans have gone through the RSL Employment Program to learn how to translate their skills, perform well in interviews, and secure productive jobs.
"Our Homelessness Program is helping homeless veterans and their families to get back on their feet and find safe, affordable, long term housing.
"Each month, we also help hundreds of veterans process their DVA claims, visit dozens of veterans in hospital, and provide health and rehabilitation programs to hundreds more people across the state."
The Defence Family Research Project has been provided to government and other ex-service organisations to help inform veteran services across the state.
"The huge amount of information in this report will guide RSL Queensland going forward, and make sure that the services we provide fully meet the needs of our Defence family," Mr Denner said.