ARVL

Serving those who served

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    Defence Ensign

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RSL Care SA is privileged to share the extraordinary military experiences, stories and recollections of some of our veteran residents.

It is always a privilege to have ex-service men and women access temporary or permanent accommodation through RSL Care SA. Our Andrew Russell Veteran Living (ARVL) program offers emergency and affordable housing accommodation options to contemporary veterans, while our Retirement Living and Residential Aged Care facilities offer accommodation to the elderly.

We are in a unique position to hear so many different stories about our residents military experiences. We think it’s important to share these stories with others as a reminder to be thankful for the freedom we experience today because of the ongoing service of others. We will be adding to this post regularly and hope you enjoy learning about our veterans as much as we do!

Flying Officer, Alex McKinnon

Alex enlisted with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in September 1941 at the age of 18. His initial training was at Fort Breckan Victor Harbor in the same intake as Keith Miller the famous Australian cricketer. Further training took place on Prince Edward Island Canada before being shipped to Brighton in the UK. After a short time in the UK, Alex was shipped to the Middle East where he was assigned as a Navigator to RAAF 459 Squadron. This squadron was located at an airbase called El Berka just out of Benghazi in Libya. Alex (Navigator) and three other crew members (Pilot, Wireless Operator and Gunner) flew Baltimore Bomber aircraft over the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas bombing German shipping and supplies as well as missions to Rhodes and Crete. In total Alex flew 28 sorties with 176.5 hours of flying.

Alex returned to Australia at the completion of the War as a Flying Officer, achieving the following Honours and Awards: 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45, Australian Service Medal 1939-45, Returned from Active Service Badge.

 

Squadron Leader, Murray ‘Lyne’ Skinner

Lyne enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on the 5th of December 1940 at the young age of 19, accompanied by his older brother John. After some initial training in Pearce and Cunderdin in Western Australia, Lyne was singled out as a pilot and sent to Sommertown on Prince Edward Island in Canada for the next stage of training, which would ensure he was at the standard level required for the Operational Training Unit in England. Lyne finished his training in the United Kingdom in Wiltshire, Chivenor and Devon.

Lyne’s first operation, as leading Aircraftman, was on the 14th of May 1942.  While it was quite an uneventful mission (unexpectedly cut short), it did not foretell the many hours of flying and ‘heart stopping’ moments that were to come. Lyne had several postings across the United Kingdom, the Western Desert in Egypt, Malta and Italy.  His missions included submarine operations, enemy patrols, dinghy searches, reconnaissance, navigation and even a mine laying operation! While Lyne flew many aircraft’s during his time in the RAAF, his favourite by far was the Spitfire.

Lyne’s last posting was with RAF 683 Squadron based at Stan Severa, Italy. In 1945 he was discharged as Squadron Leader, having achieved a whopping 1,114 hours (and 35 minutes) of flying.

Sadly, Lyne’s brother John was killed in a Blenheim crash in Kenya in 1941, never to return home.

Read the full account of Lyne’s service history on the Flight Publishing website at the following link (pages 28 to 39) http://www.raafa.org.au/sites/default/files/Wings%20Winter18-V2.pdf

 

Flying Officer, Colin Watt OAM, DFM

Colin Watt OAM DFM flew Lancaster aircraft with Bomber Command in WWII. Colin completed 25 missions totaling over 170 flight hours and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for his extraordinary service in exceptionally trying circumstances. Only three of the 14 pilots Colin trained with survived the war. The below photo was taken on the 29th of September 1942, with Colin flying the lead aircraft! Sadly, the two planes accompanying him were shot down shortly after this photo was captured.

 

Colonel Donald Beard AM, RFD, ED (Ret’d)

After completing his medical degree Donald Beard volunteered as a Medical Officer in the Army in 1949 serving in Japan and treating evacuated soldiers from Korea with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. Donald Beard was due to return to Australia on the 27th June 1950, but 4 days before his departure he was recall to his base unit where he reluctantly volunteered to serve in Korea. He served as Regimental Medical Officer during the famous 3rd Battalion (Old Faithful) in the Battle of Kapyong. The Battle of Kapyong involved a 15,000-strong Chinese division attacking the Australian, British and Canadian Battalions and the New Zealand 16th Field Regiment in two days and nights of fierce fighting near Seoul. Donald returned to Australia in December of 1951.

Donald was chosen as a member of the Australian contingent to attend and march in the coronation service of the Queen Elizabeth II in London on 2 June 1953. Part of a world goodwill tour lasting 5 months. In 1968, Donald again found himself serving in a war zone at Vung Tau Base, Vietnam. Donald had a long and distinguished career as a Doctor which included being the medical officer for the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA). Donald’s extraordinary life has been documented by Ashley Mallett in the Wakefield Press book called ‘The Diggers’ Doctor, the Fortunate Life of Col. Donald Beard AM, RFD, ED (Ret’d)’. Donald very kindly signed 2 copies of his book while he was with us for 5 weeks of respite in August 2017. We look forward to having him back later this year!

 

 

Andrew Russell Veteran Living Accommodation Officially Opens

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    Andrew Russell Memorial Plaque

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Helping our homeless veterans

On Friday 16th February 2018, exactly 16 years after South Australian born SAS soldier Sergeant Andrew Russell was killed in Afghanistan, the homeless veteran accommodation named in his honour was officially opened.

RSL Care SA’s Andrew Russell Veteran Living (ARVL) program assists contemporary veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with transit accommodation.  ARVL has provided nearly 6,000 nights of accommodation to veterans and their families.

During the pilot program, RSL Care SA utilised residential college rooms at the Australian Lutheran College in North Adelaide. As the program became more widely recognised and the referrals of homeless veterans intensified, RSL Care SA identified the need to look for more suitable and permanent accommodation for the program.

Thankfully a wonderful opportunity arose and we are very pleased to announce the purchase of a 10 unit block located in Sturt. The new ARVL accommodation was officially opened on Friday by Andrew’s parents, Bob and Jan Russell, with the unveiling of a memorial plaque, funded via a grant through Veterans SA, that now sits proudly at the front of the units.

Following the unveiling, approximately 60 guests from the veteran community, mental health sector, Members of Parliament, senior representatives of Army, Air Force and Navy, as well as other special guests attended a function at the Marion RSL.

Department of Veterans Affairs, Supporting Younger Veterans (SYV) Grant

With 10 empty units waiting for veterans to transfer over, the next step was to organise furniture and utensils to ensure the units were fully functional and ready for emergency housing.   This was made possible with our successful application for funding through the Supporting Younger Veterans (SYV) Grant by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The SYV grant program was established to support the needs of younger veterans as they leave the Australian Defence Force and integrate into civilian life, with all the challenges that accompany that unique transition. The Minister for Veterans Affairs, Dan Tehan, identified veteran homelessness as a significant & complex issue. RSL Care SA has responded to this issue through the Andrew Russell Veteran Living program.

Through the SYV grant, we applied for funding to fit out the 10 new ARVL accommodation units with furniture and goods to allow veterans needing temporary emergency accommodation to move straight in.

How it all works

The ARVL program has developed referral pathways into the program from Ward 17 at the Repatriation Hospital (now the Jamie Larcombe Centre at Glenside), a range of community services, other ex-service organisations and word of mouth. When RSL Care SA receives a referral, ARVL Program Manager, Ben Challinor, makes contact with the participant and meets with them to discuss their needs.

Where appropriate, Ben supports them into the ARVL emergency accommodation and works with them over time to link them to community, public and private service providers who may assist with the veteran’s circumstances of homelessness. These services include medical, financial, employment and social services.

For more information on ARVL, please contact Program Manager Ben Challinor on 8379 2600.

To donate to ARVL or any of our other programs, please click here. All donations are tax deductible and 100% of donations received go directly to the programs.

Getting To Know Our Volunteers

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Volunteers of RSL Care SA

RSL Care SA is privileged to have a wonderful, rapidly growing database of passionate volunteers. All of our volunteers are highly valued and seen as a vital part of our organisation. Thanks to the generosity of our volunteers, we are able to offer a range of versatile activities and services that enrich the lives of our residents.

To demonstrate just how important volunteers are to our organisation, we will be posting regular interviews with our volunteers showing exactly what it is they do and why.

SANDRA PAVIA

Sandra Pavia is our Volunteer Coordinator and has been working at RSL Care SA for over 12 months.  Working closely with the residents, Sandra has been able to tailor volunteer services to suit their various needs. Having a dedicated Volunteer Coordinator has seen our volunteer database double over the last year! We currently have 34 active volunteers, and of course we are always looking for more! See Sandra’s interview below:

What sorts of activities do volunteers do with our residents?

Volunteers participate in a range of different activities with our residents, such as; companionship and social support; assistance on outings or shopping; driving the bus for resident outings; beauty therapy services such as manicures; organising or assisting with participation in activities; Pastoral care and faith support; assistance with wellbeing initiatives and providing pet therapy engagement with residents to list a few

We also have volunteers who provide support in areas such as the kitchen, garden and maintenance.

Volunteers with the right qualifications are also able to go into specialised areas such as Andrew Russell Veteran Living (ARVL), which is our program for younger veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Why do you think volunteers are so valued at RSL Care SA?

We value our volunteers because we recognise the critical role they play in supporting and enhancing the lives of our residents and hope that they gain as much enjoyment from their volunteering as our residents do. Volunteers also support the organisation in fulfilling its mission and vision.

What benefits do you see to the resident’s from having volunteers visit regularly?

Volunteers are able to focus on the resident’s individual needs at the time of their visit, spend quality time with them, nurture friendships, sit and listen, embrace natural reminiscing and support residents social connections.

How do you become a volunteer at RSL Care SA?

To volunteer at RSL Care SA all you need to have is a desire to contribute to the enhancement of our residents lives, an ability to commit as little as one hour per week, and undertake the necessary approval processes required to work in Aged Care.

BETH COTTON

What made you decide to become a volunteer?

I thoroughly enjoy being in the company of older people. I love chatting with them and listening to their stories. I always come away from my visits feeling very blessed!

What is your role as a Volunteer at RSL Care SA?

I buddy a resident who has severe memory loss, helping out as needed. It is a privilege to help someone who is vulnerable, even if it’s just providing some extra company or offering a listening ear. I also attend the ‘chair exercise’ group and assist the residents throughout the class, which I thoroughly enjoy.

What is your favourite thing about volunteering?

I enjoy spending my time with people who have lived amazing lives. The residents all have stories to tell and listening to what they have to say adds colour to my life. There is an old saying “as we refresh or bless others we are ourselves refreshed”, and I couldn’t agree with this more!

ANNE MILLER

Anne is our wonderful Art Facilitator. Watch her interview below!

SUSAN KUKESTE

How long have you been volunteering at RSL Care SA?

I have been volunteering at RSL Care Myrtle Bank since March 2016 so just over 2 years.

What made you decide to become a volunteer?

After finishing full time employment I still needed to work. I have been involved in and contributing to community throughout my life. Growing up in the country that was a given. In my early years I was involved with Nursing Mothers Association of Australia as a counsellor and group leader. Once my children were at school I became involved in school life – supporting student needs, fundraising and pastoral care support to parents. I volunteered with Teen Challenge for several years and have continued with voluntary work through group work and pastoral care associated with my church life.  The opportunity to volunteer at Myrtle Bank and work with the Chaplain and Lifestyle in Pastoral Care Support was a good fit. So here I am.

What activities do you do with the residents?

Most of my time and involvement is visiting with the residents offering a listening ear, friendship, general chit chat, and conversation, wherever that might take us. At times I join in with planned activities. A very important part of my week is supporting the weekly Sunday Church Service. Assisting residents to get there and return home, leading services and giving a message are all part of what I do- who I am.

What is your favourite thing about volunteering?

Following the loss of my mother in 2015 I reflected on the shortcomings of life for the aging in our society, particularly people becoming more isolated and people in care. I hoped to make a difference and contribute in a way that would count and be meaningful for individuals. Having studied and trained as a Chaplain I hoped to utilize this in whatever I took on in the future.

As a pastoral care person I talk with and get to know people. Some people are happy with a brief ‘how are you, hope you are well’. Others like to share their stories and have someone take interest in their lives and develop relationships with them. I have the privilege of hearing incredible stories, beautiful stories and in so doing one can only recognise and marvel at the resilience and courage and beauty of so many. Everyone has stories to tell.

We all need to tell those stories and learn of one another –  that’s how we grow, that’s how community happens. I am enriched and challenged by the privilege of sharing in the residents’  life journeys.

JIM RICHARDSON

Jim has been volunteering at the War Veterans Home in Myrtle Bank for about nine months and is a wonderful addition to our Veterans Support Group. Watch his interview below!

If you wish to enquire further about volunteer opportunities, please contact Sandra Pavia on 8379 2600. Sandra will be happy to schedule a time to meet with you and discuss your areas of interest.

Andrew Russell Veteran Living

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“I was hitting walls here there and everywhere, so for someone to put out their hand and say ‘we can help you, mate’, I just thought it was beautiful”

On Monday the 22nd of January, Helen Meyer of ‘Service Voices’ on Radio Adelaide broadcast an interview conducted with Ben Challinor, Program Manager for our Andrew Russell Veteran Living (ARVL) program, as well as with ARVL resident, Phil.

To listen to Ben talk about how the ARVL program is assisting veterans that are homeless or at risk of homelessness, please click here.

To listen to Phil, a resident of the ARVL program, and the positive impact that our Andrew Russell Veteran Living program has had on his life, please click here.

 

 

The Gawler RSL Women’s Auxiliary

  • Gawler RSL Womens Auxiliary

    Gawler RSL Womens Auxiliary

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The Gawler RSL Women’s Auxiliary

The War Veterans Home honours its long relationship with the Gawler RSL Women’s Auxiliary with an annual luncheon

A Rich History

The Gawler RSL Women’s Auxiliary formed in 1950 as a team of dedicated women who hoped to provide financial support to service related organisations. The members have been very successful in their mission, providing numerous physical donations each year and hosting many fundraising events.

These ever charming and charismatic ladies have been welcome guests at The War Veteran’s Home now for almost 50 years. Current members have reminisced on our long history together;

The RSL Women’s Auxiliary visited the War Veterans home for the first time on September 28th 1968, and they brought gifts of oranges and cigarettes for the solely male residents. During this period the facility was home to many ex-servicemen who did not have a home to return to after their service.

In 1974 the men from the War Veterans Home began visiting the Women’s Auxiliary at their club room in Gawler. The veterans would present the ladies with toys, rugs and lead light glass butterfly’s and birds; all items that were handmade at the War Veterans Home onsite workshop. The ladies would then go on to sell these items and donate the funds back to the home.

As the home gradually evolved into the aged care facility that exists today, the ladies began donating home ware items that could be enjoyed by all residents, and their much loved crochet blankets are still included in our welcome packages for new residents.

Supporting our veterans today

Today these wonderful women continue to provide support to our veterans, having donated over $2,000 at their recent luncheon for our Andrew Russel Veteran Living (ARVL) program. This donation will go a long way in helping RSL Care SA to provide accommodation to ex-service men and women who are facing homelessness.

RSL Care SA looks forward to hosting many more lunches with the Gawler RSL Women’s Auxiliary.

For more information on ARVL, please click here.

To make a donation, please click here.  

RSL Care SA staff support Walk a Mile in my Boots

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    RSL Care SA staff support Walk a Mile in my Boots

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Walk a Mile in my Boots

RSL Care SA walk for the Homeless Veterans Support fundraiser

For the fourth year in a row, RSL Care SA staff braved the chilly early morning conditions to participate in the Hutt Street Centre’s Walk a Mile in my Boots on Friday 11th August.

Walk a mile in my boots provides RSL Care SA with a fantastic opportunity to show its support for an organisation that does so much for those experiencing homelessness in Adelaide. Staff are particularly passionate about supporting those experiencing homelessness. Homeless Veterans support is one of the many services we offer at RSL Care SA.

RSL Care SA has its own Andrew Russell Veteran Living program (ARVL) supporting ex-service personnel who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. ARVL has received a number referrals from the Hutt Street Centre. We have been able to reach out and provide transit, accommodation and support services. These services directly contribute to getting these individuals back on their feet.

It was great to see a number of our staff braving the cold to support ‘Walk a Mile in My Boots.’ It is a key fundraiser for the Hutt Street Centre. Funds raised are directed into their Day Centre which provide many services including:

  • crisis assistance
  • access point for those experiencing homelessness
  • essential services
  • referrals to support organisations, including RSL Care SA

If you would like to support the Hutt Street Centre, access their website here.

RSL Care SA has many opportunities to Volunteer as well. If you would like to know more about Volunteering click here.

We are an organisation that has been helping the ex-service and wider community for 100 years.

DVA Veteran Study

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    ARVL

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Andrew Russell Veteran Living & DVA Veteran Study

Partnering with University of New South Wales and The University of Adelaide

The ARVL  program contributed to a DVA Veteran Study regarding homelessness in Australia. The University of New South Wales and the University of Adelaide invited ARVL to participate. The study commissioned by DVA  aims to accurately estimate the number of homeless veterans within Australia. The DVA aims to present an up to date account of the lived experiences of homeless veterans, and ARVL supplied quantitative and qualitative data to the study.

The project is being undertaken by a team of researchers from four main parties including:

The Board and management of RSL Care SA look forward to the results of the completed report at the end of 2017. RSL Care SA are thankful for the generous donation of $7,000 to the ARVL program by the Universities.

If you would like to know more about the Andrew Russell Veteran Living Program please click the link below.

RSL Care SA ARVL Program

If you would like to volunteer or donate to the program please contact us.

About us

RSL Care SA believes that the ex-service community deserves the best care and affordable accommodation. RSL Care SA is an independently constituted not for profit organisation with links to the Returned & Services League of Australia (SA Branch).

Our mission is to support veterans and their dependents, although the ex-service community are our primary client group it is not exclusively so. The facilities and services are also available to the broader community.

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