Nambucca Valley veterans have declared themselves ready to be unique trailblazers … when it comes to the economic development of the shire.
Their initiative, We’re Here, aims at encouraging Australian Defence Force personnel to think about starting afresh in the Nambucca Valley as they consider their options in civilian life.
But what makes it so different is that it is local veterans themselves who have been there and done that, who have come up with this idea. And it is they who are putting themselves forward to be mentors to veterans choosing to settle here.
“Wayne (Mason) and I came up with this over a coupla beers in Albury a while back,” Bowraville RSL’s Jim Cameron said.
“We formed a committee and we’ve spoken to Midcoast Trucks, Express Coaches and Australian Pre-Stress and other business who have said they are behind us, and promise to interview any personnel that apply for local jobs.
“And then we, the ex-service community in the valley, are here to support them, be of service, be a presence … and hopefully help them through the bumpy times that come with starting civilian life.”
Minister for Veteran Affairs, David Elliott, said 1500 veterans are discharged annually and the likelihood of suicide is linked with how they are treated.
“We have a moral obligation to care for our veterans, young or old,” Minister Elliott said.*
“This program is wonderful because via the RSL branches, it offers a way to keep communication lines and links to the ADF family open for veterans as they retrain, deal with real estate agents, send their kids to school … all things some of them have never dealt with before.
“I congratulate you heartily for what you are doing … I will be watching, I really want you to succeed.”
Writer Carrolline Rhodes, who worked on the booklet that will introduce the Valley to veterans, said it was a privilege to be involved in the project.
“I worked with these guys on the Centenary of ANZAC, I know them, I know this valley and what makes it tick,” Carrolline said.
“We are a very caring community and I’ve loved using my skills in such a positive way to describe the good things on offer here.”
Jim and Wayne will now be taking the kits on the road, to two ADF transition seminars in March to test the waters with their plan.
* For acute or chronic mental health conditions, there will be support available at the new Macksville Hospital, as well as the mental health inpatient and rehabilitation units at Coffs Harbour.