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, makes contact with the participant and meets with them to discuss their needs.
Where appropriate, the Program Manager 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.