Andrew Russell Veteran Living

Serving those who served

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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.

Andrew Russell Veteran Living

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    ARVL

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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.

 

 

RSL Care SA Life Membership awarded to Dennis Chamberlain

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RSL Care SA Life Membership awarded

RSL Care SA Life Membership awarded to Dennis Chamberlain for his outstanding contribution and dedication to our organisation. Dennis served on the Board of RSL Care SA from 2013 to 2016, as a director with  specialist aged care knowledge.

In addition to Dennis’ time on the RSL Care SA board, his life membership also recognises his time as CEO of James Brown Memorial Trust, an organisation that delivers aged services through residential aged care and retirement living. During Dennis’ time as CEO, James Brown Memorial Trust managed the day to day operations of the RSL Villas aged care facility and was instrumental in the successful merger of the RSL Villas operations and assets to RSL Care SA.

Dennis has also served as a Board member of not for profit Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) for a number of years and held the position of State Chairman.

RSL Care SA is an extremely well governed and trusted not for profit which is due to the expertise, tireless dedication and numerous years of experience that our volunteer board members bring to the organisation. We extend our thanks to Dennis, and to all our past and present Board members for their dedication and commitment to RSL Care SA.

Get Involved with RSL Care SA

Please see below for information on how you can be involved in the wonderful work RSL Care SA does.

Volunteering with RSL Care SA

Volunteers are highly valued and welcomed at RSL Care SA. To enquire about volunteering, please contact us here or phone 08 8379 2600.

Read about one of our volunteers who was recently honoured with an Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) Excellence Award here.

Donate Online to RSL Care SA

All donations to RSL Care SA over $2 are tax deductible and gratefully received. Donations help us to continue providing care and assistance to many senior Australians as well as contemporary veterans. Please click here to donate now.

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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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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