Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Hasluck Electorate: Veterans Support Networks
I stand here today to draw attention to the good work of the veterans support networks in Hasluck. These groups play a vital role in identifying those veterans with health needs and who are isolated in society. It is a travesty that we can call on these people to fight and die for us overseas, but when it comes to their welfare at home we are often found wanting. Groups such as the Men’s Health Peer Education Unit, on Newburn Road in High Wycombe, pick up the slack that has been left by government. Men such as Phil Quartermaine, Lester Leaman and Peter Cowley give these veterans a place to go where they can find advice on a range of issues and talk through their mental and physical health needs. The work that these people do for the community is unquantifiable and so is the generosity of Maria So, the owner of the Newburn pharmacy, who has donated one of her clinical rooms, which the men’s health group can use for meetings.
One of the main things that I hear from people when I go doorknocking or appear at local events is a yearning for a time when we all knew our neighbours, when we had street parties and when there was a greater sense of community. This is the sort of work that these veterans health groups do. They provide a place for Australia’s war veterans and their families to sit, talk and listen to each others stories. For many veterans, sadly, this is the only family that they have.
Not-for-profit organisations like these provide our society with an invaluable service that needs more support from this government. Once again, I would like to thank all of those veterans support groups in Hasluck and commend them for the support they provide to our community. These are the people that make Australia great. They come together and provide the support that is needed in mateship and comradeship. They work through the issues, they share the pain of experiences and they talk about their health problems, which often men will not talk about or share with each other. They encourage that. They also invite the partners of each of the men who attend, so there becomes a gathering in which they are comfortable and in which they invite other people to talk to them about some of the challenges that they face and how to overcome those challenges.
But, more importantly, they have a great sense of pride in the fact that they fought for their country; they gave their all in order to defend and give us the freedoms that we enjoy in our society today. I want to commend them because it is through their leadership that they bring together not only the current Vietnam veterans but also many others who they believe need that hand that helps them through the final stages of their retiring years when they reflect on what they had, what they contributed to their country and what they have done since coming back. But I think the most important part is the comradeship and the friendship that is extremely strong within these groups.