Veterans’ Services 2020 Year in Review

For many, 2020 was a year that posed challenges, and uncertainty – but it was also a year of resilience, adaptation, and connection.

The support of our partner charity RSL DefenceCare did not waver and continued to push the boundaries in helping Australian veterans and their families in times of injury, illness, or crisis.

RSL DefenceCare offers a range of services including help with Department of Veterans’ Affairs claims, advocacy at Veterans’ Review Board hearings, and financial assistance. Itprovides counselling, housing assistance for veterans experiencing homelessness, and social connection through phone calls and visits.

Throughout 2020, RSL DefenceCare was able to:

  • Provide $525,609 in financial assistance including $324,305 in disaster assistance
  • Assist 107 veterans experiencing homelessness
  • Help 505 veterans to lodge 1567 DVA claims
  • Provide 310 counselling sessions
  • Make 474 virtual or socially distanced visits to veterans and family members at homes, hospitals, or nursing homes
  • Lodge 173 new VRB appeals, complete 244 Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mediation discussions and represent 57 full VRB Board Hearings.

Financial assistance

Throughout 2020, RSL DefenceCae provided $525,609 in financial assistance including $324,305 in disaster assistance. The bushfires  devastated regional communities, many where veterans and their families reside. The Disaster Assistance Fund supported those families during a traumatic period.

The RSL Defence Care Financial Assistance Service helped veteran families find accommodation, keep the lights on, and stay connected with loved ones when the pandemic impacted employment and threatened people’s livelihoods.

“The help we’ve had out of DefenceCare has been tremendous.” – Glen, RSL DefenceCare client


Homelessness and housing support

Over the last twelve months, RSL DefenceCare helped 107 veterans experiencing homelessness, or at risk of becoming homeless.

It was integral in providing feedback on the Rent Choice Veterans’ program, expanding access to affordable housing for even more veterans.

In addition,  the transition of RSL DefenceCare to RSL LifeCare Veteran Services allows the team to work more closely than ever with the Homes for Heroes program – providing a more holistic and supportive service to even more veterans.

Through collaboration, Homes for Heroes was able to assist an at-risk veteran with transition accommodation while the organisation’s Housing Project Officer set about finding him a more permanent living situation. During this time, the veteran was also referred on to his local veterans’ centre for mental health support. This work gave the veteran somewhere to call home, as well as the sense of security and self-empowerment he needed to embrace a more positive outlook for the future.

“They not only treated me as human, but as an ex-serviceman in need. I cannot recommend them more highly.” – an RSL DefenceCare client

DVA claims and appeals

During 2020, RSL DefenceCare helped 505 veterans to lodge 1567 DVA claims,

lodged 173 new VRB appeals, completed 244 Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mediation discussions and represented 57 full VRB Board Hearings.

The pandemic meant a shift in how Claims Advisors met and worked with clients; face-to-face visits have always been the norm.

The team were able to adapt to the challenges of 2020, and successfully transitioned to virtual appointments using videoconferencing and phone calls, while maintaining a professional and compassionate connection to their clients.

Successfully accessing a White Card, Gold Card, or other benefits from DVA can be very helpful in providing security after service. The DefenceCare specialist team, many who are veterans themselves, are available to help you understand the claims process and access the benefits you are entitled to.

These services, like all of those offered by RSL DefenceCare are free of charge.

“RSL DefenceCare made a massive difference to both my experience in dealing with DVA and also the very positive outcome of my claim.” – an RSL DefenceCare client


Community support and outreach

Social connection was so vital in 2020. At a time when isolation and uncertainty became an issue for all Australians, having a support network and people to talk to, made such a difference to RSL DefenceCare clients.

Throughout the year, RSL DefenceCare provided 310 counselling sessions and make 474 virtual or socially distanced visits to veterans and family members at homes, hospitals, or nursing homes.

“A huge thank you to the team for their assistance.” – An RSL DefenceCare client


RSL NSW recommends RSL DefenceCare for the quality of its services and its client-focus in understanding each veteran’s unique situation.

RSL sub-Branches can find out how to donate here.

If you or someone you know needs assistance, please contact the team at RSL DefenceCare on (02) 8088 0388




Image: Defence Australia