A Veterans’ and Families’ Hub network, connecting the Hawkesbury to South Western Sydney, will ensure that our veteran community receives better access to support services.

RSL LifeCare Veteran Services, in partnership with RSL NSW, will receive a $5.445 million grant to lead the new Hub network that will support the 19,200 veterans and families who live throughout the region.

Announcing the grant, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Matt Keogh said that the government is working to make sure each Hub around the country is easily accessible and available to local veterans, to support them and their families close to home.

“And I want to underline that families part because what we know is that family members very much are often first responders to veterans in need, and it’s often the family members that go out looking for the service and support that their veteran needs,” Mr Keogh said to a large gathering at Ingleburn that included Member for Werriwa Anne Stanley, Member for Leppington Nathan Hagarty and members of the Ingleburn RSL sub-branch.

So, “making sure that these hubs, as well as the sub-branches they work with, are responsive to family needs, are welcoming to families and to veterans so that they can get connected to the support, whether that is mental health support, connections to health services, advocacy with their DVA claims, whether it’s connections to employment or making sure that they’ve got a space and a place for social connectedness” was of prime importance, Mr Keogh said.

The expansion of the Veterans’ and Families’ Hubs network in Greater Western Sydney is part of the Albanese Government’s $46.7 million commitment to deliver ten Veterans’ and Families’ Hubs across the country.

“Our veterans deserve more than thanks, they deserve practical support, and this Hub will deliver that,” Ms Stanley said.

“The new Hub will help support the 11,500 current and former personnel and families in South Western Sydney.”

The proposal for this Hub is overwhelmingly supported by ex-service organisations from across NSW, who seek to work as a united front to facilitate the best services and supports for the veteran community.

“It’s fantastic to see so many organisations join with RSL LifeCare – including Legacy, Invictus, the Defence and Veterans Legal Service, Disaster Relief Australia, Veteran Gaming Australia and many others, come together to provide the best possible services and supports to local veterans,” Mr Keogh added.

RSL LifeCare’s David Anderson noted that of the 1500 people who visited their centres in Nowra and Wagga during the past 12 months, a huge proportion was the families of veterans.

“We’re finding that veterans are being brought into the centres by their families where they used to isolate, and so there’s some really great work being done,” Mr Anderson said.

While at Ingleburn, Minister Keogh also touched on the backlog of some 42,000 claims in the Department of Veterans Affairs that had not even been allocated for assessment, which his government inherited when it came into power.

“We’ve now got that down to what we like to think of as a business-as-usual situation, whereas if you put a claim in now, it will be with someone being assessed within 14 days,” Mr Keogh said.

Regarding the first recommendation of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide in its interim report, that the government harmonise and simplify the legislation that supports veterans, Mr Keogh said, “We agreed to that recommendation, and last year I released a pathway for reform with suggestions about how we as a government thought that that could best be achieved.

“On Wednesday I released our exposure draft of legislation to implement those changes. There’s an opportunity through to the 28th of April now for people to review that exposure draft bill and provide us feedback so that we can actually get the legislation to affect these changes into Parliament this year.”

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