House debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Constituency Statements

Corangamite Electorate: Veterans

10:50 am

Photo of Libby CokerLibby Coker (Corangamite, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Defence personnel veterans and their families in the Surfcoast, Bellarine, Geelong and Golden Plains, across my electorate, are set to receive better access to support through the establishment of a brand new veterans and families hub. This hub is going to be an amazing opportunity for veterans to get the help and support they need, and the Albanese government is doing that.

Recently I held a forum with the Minister for Veterans Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel, the member for Burt, and the Victorian Minister for Veterans, the Hon. Natalie Suleyman. Together we met with about 60 veterans. We shared stories, we gave advice and support, and, importantly, we spoke about the new hub and the role it will have in our region. It will provide tailored services, including: support to civilian life, which can be very challenging; advocacy services; social connection; physical and mental health services; and a range of community activities, including volunteer and sporting opportunities. This will be support for not only the 3,500 veterans and defence personnel who live in my electorate of Corangamite but also the broader region.

We know veterans often find it difficult to share their stories. It was a very emotional forum. There was a fellow there—six foot two, a big fellow—who stood up to speak and was brought to tears. It was a very challenging to see that. We must do more to help our veterans. I am hoping this facility will be of great value, and I'm working with my veterans community to make sure that it will be the best it can be and that we have it in the best location. To everyone who was there: there is an opportunity now to provide a submission, and from that submission we will determine the best location. I wish everyone well in their endeavours.

I would just like to point out that the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide has found that we need to do more for our veterans in terms of giving them the opportunity to speak. The latest bill, the Royal Commissions Amendment (Enhancing Engagement) Bill 2023, will mean veterans can share their personal stories and sustain their privacy, which is another great thing the Albanese Labor government is doing. I look forward to working with the veterans in my region to support them so they can do well and thrive.