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RSL Care leads inter-agency response to Veterans issues

Broken Hill RSL’s Des Kennedy (left) with RSL Care South Australia’s Nathan Klinge at Friday’s meeting.
By Dylan J. Stone

Local non-government organisations came together on Friday at a meeting held by RSL Care South Australia, to address concerns that local veterans are often finding it hard to access essential services, including food and accommodation.

At the meeting there were representatives from multiple local organisations who gathered to try and find solutions to the issues.

Nathan Klinge, from RSL Care South Australia, said the meeting was the start of opening the discussion up. He said it covered areas including, “caring for veterans in aged care, national advocacy work currently underway to support the aged care industry to better understand Trauma Informed Care, homeless veteran data, increasing the level of accessibility for veterans needing affordable housing, and our homeless veteran program, that has supported 161 homeless veterans so far.”

Des Kennedy, from the RSL Broken Hill branch, said, “the purpose of this meeting is to get all of the different organisations together to find out what programs they are currently running, and what programs are currently available to members of the community,but this meeting is not only about veterans, it’s about anyone in the community that needs help.”

Mr Klinge has previously held meetings on behalf of RSL Care South Australia in Millicent, Naracoorte, Renmark, and Berri.

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For Broken Hill’s meeting, service providers confirmed the types of programs those struggling could access, and it also gave those present an idea of the program gaps which needed to be addressed by organisations within the community.

One of the most significant issues discussed was the division of State and Federal legislative responsibilities, which often places requirements, and restrictions, on non-government-organisations and other services.

“Specific issues can fall through the cracks, as occasionally, neither State or Federal legislation sufficiently covers an area of concern, and so gaps might exist which are very hard to plug,” Mr Klinge says.

Don Barron, from Feeding Friends said they would help out.

“Whether it’s a hot meal on the night, or whether it’s supplying some bread and tinned food to get people through to pay day, we’ll help.

“The meeting aimed to give everyone an understanding of what each not-for-profit can and cannot offer, and also aimed to ensure not-for-profits can purposefully and meaningfully respond to the significant issues that our community is dealing with in this area,” Mr Barron said.

“Our organisation works hard in the older veteran’s space and the homelessness veterans’ space, and we are acutely aware there are veterans in regional communities who are doing it tough,” Mr Klinge said.

“There is a responsibility for RSL Care to get involved in these communities, as we have very good data on what the issue of homelessness actually looks like,” says Mr Klinge.

“Organisations who find themselves dealing with this issue can use our data to be better equipped to respond to those issues in the future.”

Mr Kennedy, said the success of this meeting depended on whether local organisations could ensure, “that the people who need the help are getting it when they need it, and that people know where they can go to get help from”.

Another goal of the meeting was to avoid both the duplication of services, and gaps where services are not provided, available, or accessible.

“We can work together to really address and tackle some of the leading problems in this space, together,” Mr Klinge, said, adding that the meeting highlighted greater understanding of some of the problems and opportunities being dealt with.

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