In the trenches of WWI, a promise was made between a soldier and his dying mate. No matter what happens, he said he would “look after the missus and kids”. Almost a century later, Legacy continues to honour that promise for past, present and future veterans’ families.
Legacy is an iconic Australian institution that supports the families of retired Australian Defence Force personnel. Our mission is simple – ensuring that partners and children of veterans who gave their lives, or health, in service to our nation can fully realise their potential.
Across Australia, Legacy cares for 52,000 veterans’ families, including widows in their senior years, younger widows with children, and veterans’ dependents with a disability.
Legacy helps provide financial, emotional and social support for the families in their care and supports families in times of hardship and grief. We help those they serve to meet their educational, personal and developmental goals, and to help them grow and thrive despite adversity.
Legacy has 45 dedicated clubs located across Australia, which provide personalised, local support to the veterans’ families in their community. These clubs work tirelessly to ensure that no family member of a veteran suffers financial and social disadvantage because of a loved one’s service.
Since being established in Melbourne in 1923, Legacy has always found its home in the community. In previous years, this has focused on commemorative events for Australian veterans and the families they leave behind; and fundraising appeals and events such as buying a Legacy badge or a Legacy Bear, or even luncheons for those in their care, provided by the community.
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way Legacy interacts with those in their community. With national commemorations like Anzac Day cancelled and Legacy Week activities severely restricted, we rely on the support of our community more than ever.
Now, perhaps more than ever, Legacy’s work has become even more important – and it has changed the way Legacy interacts with those we serve. Legacy Australia’s chairman (and veteran), Rick Cranna, says that even though things will be different, it has shown the dedication of those in the Legacy family.
“It has highlighted the commitment of our dedicated and passionate volunteers, supporters and donors – those who work tirelessly to keep the Legacy promise,” he says.
As events and activities had to be cancelled or postponed, the interaction with our veterans’ families has become greater – daily telephone calls to check in, socially distanced grocery drops, online teleconferencing like Zoom and FaceTime has become an integral part of interacting and supporting our veterans’ families.
One such example is Jacky Gavin, and her children, Joshua, 15; Holly, 14; and Olivia, 9.
Jacky lost her loving husband almost nine years ago. Lance Corporal Luke Gavin was killed serving in Afghanistan by a rogue Afghan soldier.
Jacky said that his death had left her and the couple’s three children shattered. “He was a man who lived for his kids, his job and his mates. He was a very hands-on dad, I couldn’t have asked for a better husband, he thought the world of his mates and he had that real Aussie spirit,” Jacky remembers.
Struggling to move forward and raise their young children, Legacy stepped in to lend a helping hand, helping to pay for educational supplies such as school uniforms and laptops, taking the kids away on camps and connecting Jacky with other war widows.
Jacky said she had felt supported by Legacy “from day one”, and her children are almost old enough to be able to give back through volunteering and helping other kids who have been through similar circumstances.
“I couldn’t fault Legacy. From the day that Luke passed away, they knocked on the door and have been here for us 100 per cent of the way,” she says.
John Hutcheson, CEO of Legacy Club Services (and veteran), says “The way we support veterans’ families during the COVID pandemic has had an impact on their lives. Many families struggling due to loss of jobs, increased anxiety surrounding the pandemic, increased requirements for assistance at home (such as with technology for school and work) have been able to reach out to Legacy.”
In 1942, Legacy commenced selling badges to raise much needed funds to continue to support the families of service men and women who had died or given their health as a result of their service. This year this major revenue stream will be significantly reduced with social isolation and limited inter personal contact in the community.
This reduced capacity to fundraise can be alleviated with your support to families like the Gavins.
“We still miss my husband, we’ve got a massive chunk missing from our lives but by supporting Legacy, people are supporting a great cause which helps so many in need.” Jacky says.
To find out what your local club is doing this Legacy Week, or how you can help, call 1800 LEGACY (534 229), or donate by visiting www.legacyweek.com.au.
John Hutcheson, AM, ADC, is the chief executive at Legacy Club Services.