Annual Update - 2020
For many, 2020 was a year of change, challenges and uncertainty – but it was also a year of resilience, adaptation and connection.
It was no different for the team at RSL DefenceCare as we continued to support Australian veterans and their families through bushfires, homelessness, COVID-19 and many other challenges.
While adapting to the new norms, we offered all of our services, including help with Department of Veterans' Affairs claims, advocacy at Veterans' Review Board hearings and financial assistance. We also provided counselling, housing assistance for veterans experiencing homelessness and social connection through phone calls and visits.
Throughout 2020, RSL DefenceCare was able to:
- Provide $525,609 in financial assistance including $324,305 in disaster assistance.
- Assist 107 veterans experiencing homelessness.
- Help 505 veterans to lodge 1567 DVA claims.
- Provide 310 counselling sessions.
- Make 474 virtual or socially distanced visits to veterans and family members at homes, hospitals or nursing homes.
- Lodge 173 new VRB appeals, complete 244 Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mediation discussions and represent 57 full VRB Board Hearings.
Throughout 2020, we provided $525,609 in financial assistance including $324,305 in disaster assistance. The bushfires at the beginning of the year devastated regional communities, many where veterans and their families reside. Our disaster assistance fund was available to support those families during a traumatic period.
Our financial assistance service also helped veteran families find accommodation, keep the lights on, and stay connected with loved ones when the pandemic impacted employment and threatened people’s livelihoods.
"The help we've had out of DefenceCare has been tremendous." – Glen, RSL DefenceCare client
Homelessness and housing support
Over the last twelve months, we helped 107 veterans experiencing homelessness, or at risk of becoming homeless.
RSL DefenceCare was also integral in providing feedback on the Rent Choice Veterans’ program, expanding access to affordable housing for even more veterans.
In addition, our transition into RSL LifeCare Veteran Services allows our team to work more closely than ever with the Homes for Heroes program – providing a more holistic and supportive service to even more veterans.
Through collaboration, Homes for Heroes was able to assist an at-risk veteran with transition accommodation while our housing project officer set about finding him a more permanent living situation. During this time, he was also referred on to his local veterans’ centre for mental health support. This work gave the veteran somewhere to call home, as well as the sense of security and self-empowerment he needed to embrace a more positive outlook for the future.
“They not only treated me as human, but as an ex-serviceman in need. I cannot recommend them more highly.” – an RSL DefenceCare client
DVA claims and appeals
During 2020, we helped 505 veterans to lodge 1567 DVA claims.
We also lodged 173 new VRB appeals, completed 244 Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mediation discussions and represented 57 full VRB Board Hearings.
The pandemic meant a shift in how our claims advisors met and worked with clients; face-to-face visits have always been the norm.
The team were able to adapt to the challenges of 2020, and successfully transitioned to virtual appointments using videoconferencing and phone calls, while maintaining a professional and compassionate connection to their clients.
Successfully accessing a white card, gold card, or other benefits from DVA can be very helpful in providing security after service. Our specialist team, many who are veterans themselves, are here to help you understand the claims process and access the benefits you are entitled to.
These services, like all of those offered by RSL DefenceCare are free of charge.
Community support and outreach
Social connection was so vital in 2020. At a time when isolation and uncertainty became an issue for all Australians, having a support network and people to talk to made such a difference to our clients.
Throughout the year, we were able to provide 310 counselling sessions and make 474 virtual or socially distanced visits to veterans and family members at homes, hospitals or nursing homes.
Reflecting on 2020, we have all overcome some incredible challenges. The start of 2021 looks like having many of those same challenges. RSL DefenceCare, and the broader RSL LifeCare Veteran Services team will continue to grow and adapt to the needs of our clients.
We will always be there for veterans in need.
Our efforts are proudly supported by funds from RSL NSW and RSL sub-Branches, and the services we provide would not be possible without the generous support of donors.
If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.