Bedside support for veterans in Brisbane

10 June 2024
  • Health & wellbeing

Two veterans share the success of RSL South Eastern District’s Veteran Wellbeing Coordination Centre.

How the centre started

RSL South Eastern District President Kerry Gallagher AM is more aware than most of the challenges that veterans face in navigating Australia’s healthcare system. However, a dedicated wellbeing centre embedded in a local hospital has been helping ease this burden for veterans in his District for many years.  

“I spent time in the Army and the Australian Medical Association (AMA), both as CEO of AMA in Queensland and Secretary General of the Federal AMA,” Kerry explains. 

“One of the RSL’s primary objectives is to look after the sick, the helpless and the needy, so I saw that a centre could exist to do exactly that.” 

Judy Alterator with Kerry Gallagher at the Greenslopes Veteran Wellbeing Coordination Centre

RSL South Eastern District Company Secretary Judy Alterator and RSL South Eastern District President Kerry Gallagher AM

Greenslopes Private Hospital in Brisbane provided the perfect location for this centre, and in 2016, the RSL South Eastern District’s Veteran Wellbeing Coordination Centre was established.  

“Previously, Greenslopes was a repatriation general hospital for Queensland,” Kerry explains. 

“Many ageing veterans, particularly those who served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, remember this place as a veterans’ hospital, so it still services a significant need in Queensland.” 

Today, the centre helps guide veterans through their stay in hospital and beyond. 

“Our volunteers walk through the wards and chat to everyone who’s there, and they often pick up additional people who have not yet been referred to us,” Kerry explains.  

“We help veterans through the medical and allied health systems, but we also do simple things to see if they’re okay, like visiting them, giving them hospital packs and talking to them.”  

Volunteering for a good cause 

Over recent years, the centre has grown to provide an array of services including DVA advocacy, housing, financial and employment support. RSL South Eastern District Company Secretary Judy Alterator has seen first-hand the difference that it’s made to her fellow veterans.  

“The staff put in that extra bit of effort, so we often get comments from the South Eastern District about how good the centre is doing, and also how good the service has been at the hospital,” Judy says. 

“By interacting with us, the veterans are also learning that they have entitlements, and some of them have had their healthcare cards upgraded through the work of our volunteers in the hospital. 

Greenslopes Veteran Wellbeing Coordination Centre

The centre’s team of volunteer wellbeing officers meet with patients and their families to help assess any challenges they may be facing and connect them with relevant support services. In March 2024 alone, the centre provided about 740 services to patients via phone, email and face-to-face.  

“We have a Client Contact Officer who looks after our volunteers on a daily basis, getting them ready to conduct their visits at the hospital. She has seven full-time volunteers and three in training,” Judy says. 

“The team have been able to get a lot of advocates to come in and see the patients. Some of the Sub Branches can’t get out and do home visits, so veterans are very appreciative when they get here.” 

Planning for the centre’s future 

Despite the overwhelming success of the centre, both Kerry and Judy continue to develop the centre’s capacity, driven by their dedication to the veteran community. 

“I've been relatively fortunate – both in terms of employment and health – and therefore I believe that I need to give something back to the service. I think the RSL is the best vehicle to do that,” Kerry says. 

“Overseeing out here allows me to give back some of the time and effort that was put into my training as a veteran. To listen to how someone is feeling and how they’re trying to get through it means the world,” Judy says. 

Greenslopes Private Hospital

Eight years on since the centre’s establishment, Kerry and Judy both agree there is more work to be done to help veterans. 

“Ultimately, we hope the centre will expand – to service not only the needs of people coming through Greenslopes Hospital, but also other private hospitals in South East Queensland,” Kerry says. 

“We want to expand our visits to outlying hospitals because we also have veterans there, but we don’t get to see them. They are hearing about the good work this centre is doing and have been asking us to start doing our visits to them as well,” Judy adds. 

Until then, Judy has some advice for those who want to reach out to the RSL South Eastern District. 

“Don't be afraid; pick up a phone, ask questions, approach someone in the street. We can do as much for you as you will let us.” 

For more information about the RSL South Eastern District’s Veteran Wellbeing Coordination Centre, please visit their website or email


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