Our ex-service personnel’s health and welfare couldn’t be in better hands.
On 12th November 2020, the purpose-built ANZAC House Veteran Central was officially opened by Patron of RSLWA, the Honourable Kim Beazley AC, Governor of Western Australia. Known as Veteran Central, the $30 million purpose-built innovative facility has been designed to improve the delivery of health, advocacy, welfare and transition services to veterans and their families.
With what is a first in Australia, and perhaps the world, this groundbreaking service facility is a veritable one-stop shop for our ex-service personnel. Join me as I introduce you to one of the most remarkable facilities you will come to know.
A building with purpose and a heart.
Accessible by the public at street level of 28 St Georges Terrace is the Poppy Lane Memorial Wall which honours
both past and present Australian Defence Force personnel, at home and abroad, as well as their family members. Adorning the beautiful façade of this memorial is the iconic and enduring symbol of remembrance of the First World War, the poppy. Poppies are the flowers that grew on the battlefields and now not only symbolise lives lost in the First World War, but serve to remind us of the devastation of war and terrorism.
It is quite significant that prior to entering the foyer of ANZAC House, you pass by the Karrakatta Club office. The women of the Karrakatta Club, headed up by Edith Cowan, were the principal drivers in establishing the Soldiers Welcome Institute – a place of welcome and friendship for returning soldiers & nurses from the WWI era. The Soldiers Welcome Institute was the forerunner of ANZAC Club, which was established on the current site of ANZAC Club in 1934.
The new ANZAC Club is located on the first floor and this is where members and guests can gather in a friendly social setting, continuing the spirit of camaraderie. Described by ANZAC House Veteran Central Manager, Matthew Holyday, “ANZAC Club represents the traditions of the Mess Hall, where the espirit d’corps of the Australian Defence Forces central to the camaraderie and friendship continues to be shared by all the members and their guests.” The club boasts an ever-changing daily selection of contemporary cuisine and past favourites from Chef Jerome Durham, and members and guests can also enjoy the views of Government House gardens.
In addition to being the new home of RSLWA, the seven storey ANZAC House also accommodates a range of services including Ex-Service Organisations (ESOs), Department of Veteran Affairs (DVA), and private Veteran Service Providers (VSPs).
RSLWA President Mr Peter Aspinall said ANZAC House is much more than a building. Prior to the completion of ANZAC House, he commented, “It will be home to Veteran Central – an innovative and uniquely Western Australian concept identified to improve our capacity to offer proactive, comprehensive and complete veteran support services here in WA.”
Veteran Central is the nexus of ANZAC House, focused on health, housing and employment services for younger veterans. Housed all on the third floor are services ranging from a general practice medical care to allied health services, a day surgery facility, psychological and mental health services, financial and employment support services, welfare and wellness services and programs.
It really is quite incredible how deep the level of support and care is for our Veterans, and all under one roof.
Services include day surgery procedures, specialist consultancies, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, exercise
physiology and a range of other services including skin cancer checks. A full range of hearing services plus in house dental provide veterans with the majority of services they need in the one location.
According to REDIMED Manager Marney Houston, “we can cover any procedure that requires a local anaesthetic here on site.”
In-house professional mental health services have the ability to triage and assign the appropriate level of assistance. Open Arms provides the first level of support in a peer-to-peer format while stage two is supported by Veterans Clinical Psychology. In instances where more specific and specialist care is required, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for example, Dr Richard Magtengaard from Salvado Veterans is available. A Royal Australian Navy veteran himself, he is dedicated to assisting Defence personnel, ex-service veterans and first responders who have sustained physical and psychological traumas during duty.
In addition to providing the necessary reactive medical services for veterans, ANZAC House assists with health
education and training. Health management planning covers everything from nutrition and weight loss, exercise, drug awareness and living with/protecting against diabetes.
Transitioning out of the military and into civilian employment can often be a stressful situation for younger veterans. However, the skillsets accumulated during their service are meaningfully transferrable and, for example, veterans are highly sought after as divers, explosives handlers, security and hotel engineers (just to name a few). The work ethic and discipline ingrained during military service are highly sought after attributes, and to this point, employment advice and placement into government, private and community sectors is another service offered in this building.
Rounding out the comprehensive range of services at ANZAC House are financial counselling, home care and aged care. One of WA’s largest providers of home and aged care, White Oak, provide the in-house services.
If you are lucky enough to be invited to an event held at ANZAC House, you will be treated to the magnificent facilities of the upper event floors. On Level Five is the Ex Service Organisations (ESO) function area which also serves as a multi-purpose facility and is capable of hosting up to 300 guests. A slightly smaller function area on Level Six can cater for up to 200 people, while Level Seven is reserved as a Defence Force Ceremonial Function area and boardroom.
Since the building’s opening in November 2020, RSLWA has already hosted a large number of events ranging from in-house, Australia Day Awards, Cadet of the Year Awards to corporate and government events. Veteran Service Providers (VSPs) such as REDIMED and the Ear Science Institute are also utilising this facility, aligning to RSLWA’s vision.
However, RSLWA haven’t finished with their vision to improve the delivery of health, advocacy, welfare and transition services to veterans and their families. In 2020 RSLWA purchased the Restoration & Recovery Veterans Transitions Centre in Jarrahdale. This facility exists to assist service people to transition from the military and active service into a successful civilian life. ANZAC House is the central hub for services. However, RSLWA are keen to extend satellite services to key areas such as the northern suburbs of Perth and regional areas such as the Southwest and the Pilbara.
RSLWA are not only innovators in the provision of the facilities already outlined in this article – they are also leading the way in software development. Soon to be released is a custom software package that will give veterans the choice to connect all the services they utilise so as to provide seamless care and vision by the healthcare providers.
RSLWA believes that the combination of all the above facilities and services will contribute to improved outcomes,
more effective utilisation of financial and human resources and increase trust and confidence among those who need help and support.