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Veterans Connect arrives on the Central Coast

A new service that connects former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members and their families to the right health, wellbeing and community supports has arrived on the Central Coast.

Veterans Connect can link veterans, their families and carers to a wide range of supports (everything from veterans’ peer groups to clinical services). Veterans Connect works as a central contact point, so returned service personnel are well supported in civilian life.

Almost 5,000 former defence personnel call the Central Coast home. The new Veterans Connect program will be delivered by not-for-profit organisation Social Futures and funded by the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network.

The PHN Chief Executive Officer, Richard Nankervis said that due to the complex support that veterans require, there is a high need for service navigation. “Data shows us that veterans and their families are more vulnerable to mental health disorders resulting in a higher need for assistance with understanding and accessing appropriate health services.”

“Our aim is to see a reduction in the rate of mental health disorders and suicide in the Central Coast region and expand the service to the Hunter and New England regions within our Primary Health Network.”

Social Futures CEO Tony Davies said Veterans Connect can put veterans and their families in touch with an array of supports like health and specialist clinical services and also link them to a diversity of social support organisations such as community groups, veterans’ associations, and other wellbeing supports, for example gyms and physiotherapists.

“I realise the health, mental health and support needs of veterans are diverse and varied,” Mr Davies said.

“The goal of Veterans Connect is to help veterans, their families and even carers navigate all these services and overcome any barriers to accessing care. Veterans Connect can be their single point of contact.”

Mr Davies said he was aware that former ADF personnel have a range of experiences, including warfare, peacekeeping, and peacemaking deployments, as well as disaster response and border protection.

“Younger veterans may have been on multiple deployments and are now looking for new careers, reconnecting with family and friends and processing their time with the ADF, while older veterans may be facing issues like ageing and ill health,” he said.

“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is common among veterans, and they can be vulnerable to depression, alcohol misuse and dependence and suicide, but no one wants isolation, stress and loneliness to be part of exiting the services.

“At Veterans Connect, you will meet your Care Navigator who will listen to your story, understand and identify your needs then either directly assist you or connect you to the right services.

“Your Care Navigator can help in a wide variety of areas, even with practicalities like transport to medical or counselling appointments.”

To contact Veterans Connect call 1800 719 625 or email veteransconnect@socialfutures.org.au

If you need immediate support, call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.

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