Veterans Connect Care Navigation Service
Last updated January 25, 2024
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. Historically, ex-serving ADF members also face an increased risk of suicide.
The Veterans Connect Care Navigation service was introduced to address these issues and to improve health outcomes for the Veterans community. It was based on a model implemented as a pilot program by the HNECC PHN in 2020, the Refugee Care Navigation program.
The New South Wales Central Coast was selected as the preferred location for the Veterans Connect pilot program as it has a high population of veterans from the Australian Defence Force (ADF), more than 4,800, who’s health and welfare needs are greater and more complex in comparison to the broader Australian community. The area also offers a limited range of supports and services for veterans and their families.
Following a tender process, the Veterans Connect program was launched on the Central Coast in March 2023. It is delivered by the community service organisation Social Futures. The program features ‘Care Coordinators’ who manage referrals for veterans and their families to facilitate access to address physical and mental health and social needs. They work as the contact point, listening, outlining support options then working with the participant to formulate a support plan.
The program identifies appropriate services and provides navigation support to veterans, their families and carers, strengthening their resilience and complementing the support provided by other local programs and services to address service gaps for this population group. This approach also seeks to empower help-seeking behaviours and improve health literacy for veterans and their families.
At the same time the program reinforces the importance of family involvement and education for veterans, an issue highlighted in the Interim Report from the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.
The Veterans Connect program prioritises the development of ongoing relationships with local General Practices, Medical Centres and Allied Health Professionals, and works collaboratively with Veterans Support Services such as Legacy, Open Arms, Returned Services League (RSL) Clubs and Department of Veterans Affairs. It is able to link veterans to services and supports ranging from peer groups and clinical services through to financial and career advisors, gyms and other therapies.
Veterans Connect expands into Hunter Region
To support the continued growth of the Veterans Connect Care Navigation Service, the pilot program expanded into the Hunter region including Port Stephens, Maitland, Lake Macquarie and Newcastle Local Government Areas. This increased the target group of Veterans, their families and carers to a population of more than ten thousand. Social Futures also deliver the Veterans Connect Program in the Hunter Region commencing services in January 2024.
For more information about the Veterans Connect program click here or call Social Futures on 1800 719 625.
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