Homeless veteran sleeping in his car

Finding veterans a place to call home

Anita Jaensch 02 December 2019

A partnership between two iconic charities is helping homeless veterans get back on their feet.

One of the most fundamental needs we have is for a roof over our heads, but, sadly, some veterans are lacking just that.

But rather than simply focussing on housing, RSL Queensland has partnered with The Salvation Army to provide comprehensive case management which aims to overcome the root causes that have led to veterans becoming homeless.

Since launching in late 2017, the partnership has helped 130 veterans find secure, stable accommodation. Veteran Services Manager Graeme Alley says the partnership allows RSL Queensland to provide the best possible support to veterans in need.

“Sometimes the best way to help is to work with an organisation that already has the necessary expertise and processes. In this case, The Salvation Army has extensive experience in helping the homeless,” Graeme says. 

“Then RSL Queensland can contribute its experience and expertise to tailor solutions to each veteran’s unique circumstances.”

The program isn’t restricted to veterans living rough on the streets but also aims to help veterans who don’t have access to stable, secure accommodation or who are moving between short-term lodging options.

“They may be couch surfing, living in their car, staying with family, or living in a squat or illegal campsite,” Graeme says.

What happens when a veteran reaches out?

“Our first priority is to get them out of the situation they’re in,” Graeme says. “RSL Queensland initially provides three nights of emergency accommodation before transitioning them into longer term self-contained accommodation for four to six weeks.

“During that time, we work with the veteran to identify the sort of support they might need, while The Salvation Army supports them in finding permanent accommodation, which may include anything from dealing with the Department of Housing to accompanying them to open houses.

“Once they’re successfully settled, RSL Queensland steps back in to provide wraparound services that will set them on the right path to take back control of their lives.”

Graeme says there is often a combination of factors that leads to veterans becoming homeless. 

“They may be suffering mental or physical health issues, relationship breakdown or substance abuse. It’s here that RSL Queensland can really add an extra level of support. We can help them lodge a DVA claim, expedite referrals to psychologists or addiction specialists, help with retraining or upskilling, or assist with finding meaningful employment.

“It’s not just about finding them somewhere to live – it’s about helping them create the stability in their lives that will enable them to thrive.”

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  • Health & wellbeing