OPERATIONS DIRECTOR ANNUAL REPORT 1 DEC 2022
1. This report is both my Board report for SA and the end-of-year report to the AGM. The QLD report for the year will be presented by the Chair or Brendan.
2. The year has passed with difficulties related to the issues presented by COVID. This has been further complicated by the apparent reluctance of our clients to join an unknown group of individuals for a period in the bush, an attitude which I completely understand.
3. The SA trek for 22 was scheduled to be run for the first time at the new location at Alpana station. The reasons for the relocation were outlined in my report last AGM. To ensure that the trek was planned and re-written, a reconnaissance of the location was conducted by nine staff in April. Following the recon, four members returned a positive result for COVID despite a negative RAT before departure. One member from Tasmania could not travel home and was accommodated in a separate area at Keswick Barracks until clear. This arrangement was most welcome given the alternative in a nominated Medi-motel or hotel would have been expensive.
4. In short, Alpana is satisfactory as a base. The country is not as spectacular and does not contain places like Nuccaleena, the Bushman’s Inn, or Hannigan Gap, but it offers other advantages at the base, which are a welcome offset. The facilities are superior, and power does not depend on running the noisy generator, which was the case at Moolooloo. There are other minor issues to be attended which will occur over time, making Alpana suitable. I am confident that it meets or will meet the Foundation needs.
SA Trek 18 to 23 SEP 2022
5. Eleven nominated to attend. The group included four women, an aspect which was an advantage in sharing what may be different male/female opinions. This added another view to the discussions. The composition of the group was:
• Paramedics 3 (2 from VIC), 1 female,
• Ex-army 4, 1 female,
• CFS 2,
• SAAS volunteer 1 female, and
• Board Member 1 female.
6. Those attending included four ex-military, with the balance being first responders. This appears to be the trend of late, with fewer military nominating. The reason for that is not known but combined with the lack of combat deployments and the proliferation of organisations that assist veterans, it is probably the way of the future.
7. The trek was successful, and the participant evaluations which are available all indicate the group was assisted greatly in commencing their journey to recovery. It was also of interest to note that Goal Attainment Setting (GAS) was accepted as a good personal concept in supporting recovery. One member has had a setback since return, resulting in his admission to the Margaret Tobin Centre for a short stay.
8. The Foundation’s attempts to achieve some form of recognition from the Department of Veterans is a chapter filled with disappointment. Three previous notices of advice that the Foundation is not recognised as an ESO were challenged and dismissed. However, following a recent application for a grant, the Grants Hub advised that the Foundation was not recognised as an ESO, therefore, not eligible to apply. The reason was based on new conditions which categorically eliminated the Foundation. The new conditions are as follows:
Ex-service organisations (ESOs) provide day-to-day ongoing support to current and former ADF members.
For the purposes of the VWG program, an ESO is an organisation that satisfies all of the below points:
• has demonstrated direct links to the ex-service community.
• has membership consisting primarily of veterans, past and present members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and/or their dependants.
• is established primarily to provide compensation advocacy and/or wellbeing advocacy to veterans, past and present members of the ADF and/or their dependents.
• does not charge any fee for acting on behalf of the veterans, past and present members of the ADF and/or their dependants in the provision of claims or well-being services.
• has objectives that aim to benefit the well-being of its members.
9. My entries in red will be difficult to overcome. Contact with the Repatriation Commissioner, who understands our work, to attempt rationalisation of the decision has been to date, non-productive. In his words, “he is snookered by the bureaucracy.” The Foundation has the option to partner with the RAR Corporation, which I think will permit acceptance of applications. However, this remains to be tested.
10. On 29 Nov, 2022, I will be speaking with Minister Geoff Brock, who is the state minister for Veterans, about several matters of concern, among them will be this topic. I hope to bring some up-dated news to the AGM.
11. This matter has not received attention over recent months because of other priorities. However, it is an issue that will be addressed in 2023. I have reservations about the advantages of expansion at the moment because of the reluctance of DVA to support the Foundation supporting their clients. A reconnaissance is planned for 2023 but a lot of prior work is necessary to establish whether financial support is likely from NT sources. The position of the NT Administration related to financial support is not known.
12. Staff training, which prior to COVID was an annual event, has not been conducted for two years. This is disappointing but understandable. Training the staff is considered vital in maintaining the successful approach to recovering from stress illness. I can’t emphasise enough that the Foundation has developed a unique home-grown approach to recovery from the issues of mental health. The independent evaluations confirm our success which in large part is because the delivery is by individuals who have walked the walk, not learned the theory. They will be the target of the training weekend.
13. However, now with the relaxation of interstate movement and other restrictions, it is anticipated that staff training will be reintroduced in 2023. I addition, I have managed to gain a grant which will cover interstate movement to Adelaide for interstate members. I anticipate that Keswick Barracks will be the location. More on that next year.
14. Our financial situation is sound with good investments and return on our invested money. I refer readers to the Financial Report. My thanks to John Grocke for his advice and assistance in our investments in the Australian Money Market and other funds.
15. Finally, I extend my thanks to the staff. The field staff in QLD and SA have performed up to expectation, producing outcomes which other organizations strive to achieve over much longer periods. To my fellow board members, thanks for being part of, and directing the Foundation over the year. To the treasurer and secretary, a busy grandmother who makes the time to keep me off her back, many thanks. To our supporters, and there are many, I single out Reuben and his staff for organizing the Charity Walk which this year raised over $18,000, a great result.
16. Many of us met our new Patron, Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, Governor of South Australia on 30 Oct. She attended the Charity Walk and spoke to the group en-masse and several individuals on the day. She has a good understanding of our mission and success and has expressed a desire to attend a trek in 2023.
17. In conclusion, the Foundation faces significant issues with our relationship with DVA through the Grants Hub. This matter is particularly disappointing because of the Foundation’s successful years of operation assisting DVA clients in QLD and SA. I add, all of the Foundation outcomes have been independently evaluated, a point apparently not understood by the Department. If this attitude is maintained our funding opportunities will be limited which in time, may affect the financial viability of the Foundation.
Moose Dunlop OAM
25 Nov 22