RSL Queensland has released the results of the Defence Family Research Project (DFRP), which reveals that almost 197,000 people in Queensland are serving or have served in the Australian Defence Force, and that an additional 480,000 Queenslanders have a connection to Defence through an immediate family member or friend.
For the first time, Queenslanders have a comprehensive picture of the size and needs of the state’s Defence family, including current serving personnel, veterans and their close relatives.
The DFRP confirms that the critical concerns for veterans are:
- Finding employment;
- Trying to get Department of Veterans' Affairs claims accepted;
- Enabling their mental health; and
- Dealing with family responsibilities and pressure.
RSL Queensland state secretary Scott Denner said the organisation wanted to shine a light on the Defence family, its size, location, issues and challenges so that the RSL can better meet its changing needs and advocate on its behalf.
Research confirms that the transition out of Defence often brings great upheaval and change, as they rotate out of the ADF, personnel lose their job, income and career, their purpose and home, all at once. For many, this has a profound impact on their quality of life and wellbeing.
Denner said, "What we knew anecdotally – and have now confirmed through this research – is that many of those leaving Defence need our support with employment and education, DVA claims, physical and mental health challenges, relationship guidance, financial advice, adjustment to civilian life, physical fitness and an ongoing sense of purpose."
Regardless of whether personnel choose to leave or are medically or involuntarily discharged, many struggle to find meaningful employment that uses their expertise. Many find their household income is substantially lower but they have more expenses in the civilian world, causing considerable distress for both the veteran and their family.
"These are exactly the crunch points where RSL Queensland steps in. We have a growing range of services available to all in the Defence family and I’d urge anyone in need of help to get in touch sooner rather than later, for example hundreds of veterans have gone through the RSL Employment Program to learn how to translate their skills, perform well in interviews, and secure productive jobs," said Denner.
The DFRP has been provided to government and other ex-service organisations to help inform veteran services across the state.
"The huge amount of information in this report will guide RSL Queensland going forward, and make sure that the services we provide fully meet the needs of our Defence family," Denner said.