Senate debates

Tuesday, 25 February 2020


Team Rubicon Australia

7:20 pm

Photo of Concetta Fierravanti-WellsConcetta Fierravanti-Wells (NSW, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise this evening to speak about Team Rubicon Australia, an organisation that is quietly achieving not only for veterans but for those they are helping. Founded in August 2016, its mission is to unite the skills and experiences of Australian Defence Force veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams in Australia and internationally. Its primary aim is to provide disaster relief to those affected by natural disasters by pairing the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders, medical professionals and technology solutions. Above all, Team Rubicon's aim is to serve the underserved. By focusing on underserved or economically challenged communities, Team Rubicon seeks to make the largest impact possible. We know disasters represent a massive financial cost, and by providing immediate relief work, free of cost, Team Rubicon aims to help communities get back on their feet quicker. Through continued service, Team Rubicon seeks to provide our veterans with three things they lose after leaving the military: firstly, a purpose, gained through disaster relief; secondly, community, built by serving with others; and, thirdly, identity, from recognising the impact one individual can make. Coupled with leadership development and other opportunities, Team Rubicon looks to help veterans transition from military to civilian life.

Following its founding in 2016, Team Rubicon Australia launched its first disaster relief operation following the devastation wrought by Tropical Cyclone Debbie. This operation, dubbed 'Operation Dunlop' after the famous World War II surgeon Sir Ernest Edward 'Weary' Dunlop, saw Team Rubicon Australia deployed to the hard-hit town of Proserpine in North Queensland. For over three weeks, 62 grey shirts worked tirelessly to help the community recover from that disaster. Most importantly, it proved just how ideally suited military veterans were to the conduct of this type of work. Since then, it has grown to a nationwide movement, with over 2,500 members and four fully operational disaster relief teams in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Townsville, representing a significant capability. Indeed, it has proven that capability on 15 disaster relief operations both domestically and internationally, helping thousands of disaster survivors. Over the next four years, Team Rubicon will expand from four to 12 disaster relief teams around Australia. As is stated on their website, in the spirit of World War I veterans returning to build the Great Ocean Road, Team Rubicon has reinvented the idea that veterans are some of the most highly trained civic assets, with skills and experience to be harnessed. They are anything but victims; they are built to serve.

Recently, we announced funding to support at-risk veterans transitioning to civilian life, including $15 million to roll out employment related programs for veterans—to Soldier On, Team Rubicon Australia and the national RSL. In making the announcement, Minister Chester stated:

You only need to look at the mobilisation of Team Rubicon Australia to assist in the recent response to the bushfires to know the results will be promising.

Recently, I joined CEO Geoff Evans and Team Rubicon members at Liverpool as they were about to set out for the South Coast of New South Wales. Thanks to the support of local businessmen like Brian Zammitt and others, Team Rubicon Australia have been supplied with three specially fitted buses to assist with deployments.

Can I conclude by referring to an ABCstory today: 'Team Rubicon using the skills of veterans to help bushfire victims rebuild'. It tells the story of Adam Weinert from the Adelaide Hills, whose home was destroyed by the bushfires. He is an army veteran. The story says:

The bushfire left him feeling alone and longing for the friendship and support he had in the military.

Then Team Rubicon came to his rescue.

The story says that Team Rubicon's help is like 'gold dust'. Team Rubicon is well on the way to achieving its mission to be the pre-eminent disaster relief organisation in the Asia-Pacific region. In so doing, it will change the narrative around what it means to be a veteran in Australia. I congratulate them for the great work they do. I look forward to hearing more about their achievements.