Federal member for Jagajaga Kate Thwaites MP, Vasey RSL Care Chair Mike O'Meara OAM and CEO, Janna Voloshin launch the refurbishment of the V Centre Veteran Empowerment Program

V Centre Veteran Empowerment Program Refurbishment Kickoff with Federal Member for Jagajaga, Kate Thwaites MP

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* Tuesday 4 April 2023 *

Federal Member for Jagajaga, Ms Kate Thwaites MP, assisted by Vasey RSL Care Board Chair Mike O’Meara OAM and CEO Janna Voloshin, ceremonially launched the refurbishment and fit out of ‘The V Centre Veteran Empowerment Program’ at its home in Ivanhoe (VIC) adjacent to the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and its specialised services for veterans.

Guests from the ex-service community, homeless and housing organisations, veterans and supporters attended the breakfast event to hear about the Program, have a tour of the Centre and help to officially launch the refurbishment. 

The formalities began with a short video hearing directly from those who have experienced difficulties in transitioning to civilian life:  

MC Chris Gray, Executive General Manager Veteran Services (and a veteran), introduced Mr Mike O’Meara, former Deputy Commissioner for Victoria with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and former Chair of the Sir Edward Dunlop Medical Research Foundation.

Mr O’Meara asked guests to observe a minute’s silence in honour of all who have served and especially those who did not return, a practice that forms part of the organisation’s Board meetings and a reminder of Vasey RSL Care’s purpose to ‘Serve Those Who Served’.

Mr O’Meara noted the statistics that led Vasey RSL Care towards this venture: the high rates of homelessness among veterans and the unacceptable rates of suicide. He pointed out the ideal location of The V Centre site, sharing a boundary with the veteran-specific trauma recovery unit at the Repat, with Vasey RSL Care’s own independent living units for veterans and war widows just across the road.

“This will be a life-changing program for veterans,” Mike stated. “And perhaps a life-saving program for some.”

Federal Member for Jagajaga (in which the V Centre is located) Ms Thwaites MP noted how important the work of Vasey RSL Care is and the importance of our veterans to our community: “For me it’s quite personal,” Kate said. “My grandfather was a veteran. My brother is a veteran.”

Ms Thwaites remarked that when Vasey RSL Care had first got in touch with her about the future V Centre, she saw the opportunity to change lives. “It’s a program that has the structures to support veterans in different ways, at a critical point of need for them, and to adapt that program to their needs,” she said.

“I am very pleased to be here today to mark this start,” Kate continued. She expressed her commitment to advocating for the V Centre Veteran Empowerment Program: “I am very proud as your local Federal MP to be a supporter of this project, and I assure you all that I will continue to put the case for federal support and funding for this project in Canberra, particularly to my colleague, Matt Keogh, who I’ve had some great discussions with actually about this project, and the importance of this project, not just for this community but for veterans in this state and more broadly.”

“For our government, supporting veterans is a really big focus. From Day 1 of being elected, we’ve recognised that there is a challenge nationally for us to do better by veterans and their families.

“So having an opportunity like the V Centre here which will support up to 100 veterans a year I think can play a really big role in changing the course of lives here and more broadly. As our government works to address the substantial challenges that many veterans face, I do note that it won’t be easy, but we do want to work alongside organisations like Vasey RSL Care and others, to make sure that we are improving lives for veterans in our community.”

Ms Thwaites, Mr O’Meara and Ms Voloshin ceremonially launched the imminent refurbishment with a ‘wall-breaking’ ceremony:

Guests were able to take a tour of the centre to see how it will be refurbished to provide apartments for veterans, with some offering facilities for assistance dogs.

Refurbishment will commence this month with the Veteran Empowerment Program set to begin by the end of the year. Vasey RSL Care is investing $11.0million into the project and is seeking federal funding of just over $4million per year for the first three years of operation. 


Plan of the V Centre