Amid yet further lockdowns, there’s never been a more important time to support our veteran community. This Legacy Week, be sure to reach out and get behind your local Legacy Club, writes Legacy Australia.
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 charity that supports the families of former 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 43,000 veterans’ families, including widow(er)s in their senior years, younger widow(er)s with children, and those with a disability.
Legacy helps provide financial, emotional and social support for the families in their care and supports them in times of hardship and grief. We works to make sure those families meet their educational, personal and developmental goals, and to help them grow and thrive despite adversity.
Legacy has 44 dedicated Clubs who provide personalised, local support. These Clubs, with a combined footprint of over 300 locations across Australia, 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 left behind; fundraising appeals and events such as buying a Legacy badge or a Legacy Bear, or luncheons and get togethers to maintain social wellbeing.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, Legacy has had to make drastic changes – often with limited notice – to the way we interact with those in our care. Some Clubs are unable to fundraise in the streets again this year, and others are shifting fully online in preparation for snap lockdowns.
As some families are facing increasing isolation and uncertainty, this means Legacy’s work has become even more important. Legacy Australia’s chairman and veteran, Rick Cranna, says that it has shown the dedication of those in the Legacy family and their ability to adapt.
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“The current environment highlights the commitment of our dedicated and passionate Legatees and volunteers, and that they will work even harder and learn new digital ways of communicating with their beneficiaries to ensure they are safe and have what they need,” he says.
The pandemic has meant that interaction with our Legacy families has not only evolved but become even greater. With daily telephone calls to check in, socially distanced grocery drops, online teleconferencing like Zoom and Facetime initially being something new, it has now become a consistent and integral part of Legacy’s service. Every now and then, some face-to-face events like the Mother’s Day luncheon in Brisbane Water, NSW, or the Busselton camp in WA have been able to go ahead. Being around family, friends and your community has become even more appreciated by Legacy families and offers a much-needed glimpse back into normality.
Heidi and her boys are one of those families. Heidi is a navy veteran and single mum to Finn (12), Will (9), Hendrix (5) and Quade (4) – with her oldest two boys on the autism spectrum. Before Legacy, she and her boys were doing it tough. Heidi had many sleepless nights worrying about how she could best provide for her family and their growing needs.
“The stresses of being a mum, doing it alone, the special needs, and then being behind in bills. It's probably the worst feeling,” Heidi says.
After being told about Legacy, Heidi contacted her local Club and found out that they could support her family – something that came as a massive relief.
Legacy has helped Heidi and her boys by assisting with bills, school fees and uniforms and even speech therapy lessons for Finn and Will. Legacy has also been able to provide the kids with a trampoline and specialised bikes so they can relax and have fun as a family. As a bonus, Heidi’s family has also found friendship and support with the Legacy volunteers and Legatees they interact with.
Finn and Will have also been able to experience Legacy camps, where they interact with other kids just like them. Clubs across Australia hold camps that are designed to make kids feel happy and comfortable, while giving them a place where they belong, and have mostly been able to go ahead in 2021.
“The fact that kids with special needs can attend Legacy camps, that’s huge. Because, in my experience, there’s no such thing available to them anywhere else,” Heidi says, “and now they're just counting down the days to the next one.”
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 because of their service. With much of NSW in lockdown, and other states preparing for any potential COVID-19 outbreaks, this major revenue stream will be largely online to keep our communities safe.
This reduced capacity to fundraise in the streets can be alleviated with your support to families like Heidi’s.
“When I see that little badge now, I get emotional about it,” Heidi says. “Even the boys know what Legacy has done for us… Legacy has brought us happiness as a family.”
To find out what your local Club is doing this Legacy Week, or how you can help, visit www.legacyweek.com.au.