Gold Coast veteran recognised for his dedication this National Volunteer Week

22 May 2024
  • Veteran stories
  • ANZACspirit

After serving in the Army for 21 years from 1980 to 2001 in Corps of Signals (RA Sigs), Darren Sapwell continues to give back to veterans and his community through his volunteer work at Mudgeeraba-Robina RSL Sub Branch.

Darren became a wellbeing and compensation advocate in 2018, and then took on the role of Sub Branch Secretary and Gold Coast District Vice President of Welfare in 2023. Darren’s work focuses on providing information, assistance or professional options to help veterans and their families have the best outcomes after service.   

“I come into the Sub Branch daily and my work can range from helping a veteran understand important documentation or Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) claims and benefits, to providing temporary accommodation to a veteran experiencing homelessness,” Darren says.  

He also makes hospital visits, meets with veterans for a chat, witnesses documents as a qualified Justice of the Peace, and coordinates assistance for veterans seeking help with everyday tasks such as moving, assembling furniture, mailing documents or scanning resumes.  

“It’s great to see positive results for veterans and to see them in a better place than they were before,” Darren says.  

“I do it for the veterans and feel satisfied to assist any way I can. The reward of being able to help people is enough for me to keep doing it.”  

After discharging from the Army, Darren dealt with several injuries that affected work and daily life. A fellow veteran suggested he visit an advocate – an experience which inspired his own journey.  

Darren Sapwell

Darren Sapwell

“When I discharged from service, I didn’t know a lot about compensation and benefits. I knew I was eligible for some DVA claims for my back and knee injuries, but at the time I didn’t think I needed it,” Darren says.   

“When I realised I did, an advocate really helped me through the process, which made me think I could do this for others too.”  

He went through DVA’s Advocacy Training and Development Program, which enabled him to excel personally and improved what his Sub Branch could offer to veterans.  

“When I transferred to the Sub Branch last year they didn’t have many volunteers in the welfare and compensation space. I started mentoring other individuals to become advocates, not just in Mudgeeraba-Robina but other Sub Branches around the Gold Coast too,” Darren says.  

“Some of the individuals I’m mentoring needed support just a few years ago and now they want to become advocates themselves. That has been great to see.” 

Darren recently implemented monthly morning teas for veterans and war widows to gather and socialise. So far, the response has been great, but Darren doesn’t want to stop there. 

“We are hoping to raise enough funds to introduce bus trips for veterans. It will be an opportunity for them to get together and enjoy a fun activity out in the community,” Darren says. 

“It’s been great helping out in this space and I want to thank the Gold Coast District and RSL Queensland for their support and assistance with the programs we offer.” 


National Volunteer Week shines a light on the ways volunteering brings us all together, builds community and achieves vital work across Australia. Find your local RSL Sub Branch and become a member of RSL Queensland, or learn about other volunteering opportunities at