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    Easing of COVID-19 restrictions has prompted Returned Services Leagues across western Victoria to re-engage with veterans in person and further the organisation’s community connection.

Veterans connect in person again

By Michael Scalzo

Easing of COVID-19 restrictions has prompted Returned Services Leagues across western Victoria to re-engage with veterans in person and further the organisation’s community connection.

Ararat RSL will host a day of veteran-focused compensation and advocacy appointments and an evening of community-centred workshops to promote roles people can play to sustain RSL efforts.

The RSL Victoria sessions aim to showcase the continued presence of Returned Service Leagues and remind communities of the organisation’s integral role for veterans. 



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Veteran and families wellbeing centre co-ordinator Kerry O’Donovan, based in Warrnambool, said the workshops were a chance to showcase the scope of rarely promoted RSL services.

“We like our veterans to know we are here for them,” she said. 

“It is often thought veterans need to be a member of an RSL to access support, which isn’t true. 

“We can be in touch with them in several ways, through many programs, wherever they are in the state.” 

Ms O’Donovan said Ararat RSL wanted to, and was well-placed to, reach out to veterans and the community in person. 

“During COVID-19 most branches were closed and it was tough for isolated veterans to get in touch and connect with their peers,” she said. 

“Veterans were encouraged to call outreach centres through 1300-MILVET if they needed help, and that remains an option, but RSLs such as Ararat want to reach out to veterans and communities in person and remind everyone of the services on offer.”

Ms O’Donovan said it was important for people to know how to get involved and support their RSL. 

“RSLs can’t do it without members and volunteers and have always looked to the community to support their initiatives,” she said. 

“Bring your children, everyone is invited, especially during the evening workshops and gathering. However, the day will be for veterans to learn about compensation and welfare. 

“The broader community aspect is an important part of the evening, to showcase what RSLs have been doing for 107 years.”

Ms O’Donovan said the veteran community had ‘shied away’ from a ‘broken-veteran’ analogy, and the RSL was eager to promote the capacity of veterans to integrate their skills after their time in defence services. 

“Most are capable and able to integrate after their time in the Australian Defence Force, and for veterans who might need additional support to do so, we are here for them too,” she said.

“RSLs help with post-service education and employment opportunities for veterans to use their ADF skills, and along with our organisation partners, help them redefine and reassess what they want to do post-service.”

Ms O’Donovan said staff at Ararat RSL were keen for the entire community to know their sub-branch. 

“Ararat has an amazing committee, staff and management and remains a really great venue for everyone. They do so much in their community,” she said.

“But COVID-19 has told us it doesn’t matter where veterans are, there is help for them through a fabulous network of people in large or small communities, whether they are based in Horsham, Warrnambool, Ararat or Sea Lake.”

Advocacy appointments, between 10am and 4pm, can be booked by calling Kerry O’Donovan on 0488 600 171 or emailing kodonovan@rslvic.com.au.

Light finger food will be available from 5.30pm with community workshops to follow.

The entire May 4, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!