Good News in Veterans Care June 2020

Dear Friends,

Last week I preached at Burleigh Catholic Church and reflected on life before and after Coronavirus. It was the Feast of the Ascension and the readings recalled Jesus handing on his mission to his disciples, to be good news and bring good news and healing to the ends of the earth.

We have many in our veteran community needing to receive Care and Hope, and we are fulfilling that mission- the great “Commission”.

Together, and with the help of God, we are a maker strategic difference in the veteran landscape. Thank you for being a part of that.

It is great that we have negotiated the turbulent waters of Coronavirus and are steaming ahead with some exciting new opportunities as a result. We have kept operating throughout the period, providing assistance to individuals and families, have been doing professional development and working up new programs.

Gary Stone

Gary Stone

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In this newsletter, we will feature:

– New Gold Coast-based health and wellbeing programs
– Anzac Day wrap up
– websites upgraded
– engagement with DVA
– Submissions to Joint Standing Committee of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Trade
– Getting back to Timor
– Congratulations to Ambassador Ines Almeida
– Fundraising


Expressions of interest are now being called for two Gold Coast-based programs to be held in July and September 2020 based from St George’s Defence Holiday suites at Rainbow Bay.

– TA13 will be run 16-21 July and is designed to prepare veterans to be providers of holistic health as mentors and pastoral carers in the veteran community. We are reaching out to both graduates of Timor Awakening (TA) as well as veterans working with other ESOs interested in professional development, sharing ideas and collaborating. The EOI is available here and the EOI closure date is 14 June 2020.

– TA14 will be run 7-14 September to provide a holistic health renewal program for past TA participants and will also pilot the delivery of our TA methodology in an Australian setting. The EOI is available here and the EOI closure date is 26 June 20.

Both programs will feature a comprehensive range of educational inputs, reflective immersion activities, discussions, and goal setting for future growth. Following evaluation of the outcomes, we may offer these programs again next year.


ANZAC Day was experienced differently this year, and VCA was called upon to provide a number of online services for veterans, including participation in a nation-wide broadcast hosted by Soldier On Canberra. As well as input to ANZAC commemoration in Timor-Leste, as seen here and here. messages delivered by Gary are available on the newly revamped VCA website here.


Thanks go to Candice Carroll and Sandra Hammond for our website renewals. The upgraded TA website can be seen here – www.timorawakening.comNew picture, videos, and resources project icons of hope for veterans or family members needing uplifting. Please share these sites with those you know who would benefit.


As a result of DVA Minister, Darren Chester, seeing our work in Timor-Leste in September 2020 and hearing first-hand testimonies from TA participants, VCA was approached by DVA to contribute to DVA Rehabilitation Policy review.

Michael Stone, in conjunction with team members, submitted a 240-page evidence-based submission on how DVA can transition from a sickness focused model to a wellness-focused model, using experienced veteran educators, mentors, and carers as providers of veteran support.

This has strategic significance for veteran community health, coming with it the possibility that DVA might fund evidence-based, veteran-led programs to complement the range of existing programs and support mechanisms provided by DVA. This has been our strategic objective for the last 6 years. Thanks to all who have supported us in this quest.


We were invited by a member of the Australian Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee of Foreign Affairs and Trade, MP Vince Connelly, himself a veteran, to contribute to three inquiries regarding improving Australia’s engagement in the Pacific and Timor-Leste. Our main submissions can be found here and here (scroll through to the second page of submissions and download Veterans Care Association Inc Submission).


The Timorese veterans, their families, and the entire Timorese nation have been in our prayers. Quick action to close their borders has seen only 24 cases, all now recovered.

A halt to work and trade has had dramatic consequences on the lives of the extreme poor, with over 40% of Timorese considered living in extreme poverty.

At the same time, the Timorese have been praying for us that we are all healthy and hoping we can return as soon as possible. We would hope that Timor might be included in a South Pacific “bubble” for approved travel. We await Australian Government safe travel advice, but we have provisionally planned for TA programs in Timor in Feb/Mar and August 2021.

Meanwhile, work has continued at RIAK Retreat, with a water bore now functional from funds we provided. This has been the greatest need for the local community and to enable our vision of establishing an English language and vocational training boarding school, which will also serve as a place of remembrance and a retreat for veterans, volunteers, and visitors.

water bore 2
water bore 3
water bore 4
water bore

Our KIWI compatriot Lt. Col Martin Dransfield has been doing great work in our absence. Thanks Martin, and we look forward to embracing more KIWIs in our programs next year, as we had planned for this year.


We need your help!
As we reach the end of our Financial Year, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to VCA. You can donate online here.

Coronavirus caused the cancellation of 6 different fundraising activities that provide funds for our day-to-day operations including insurances, phone, internet, stationery, vehicle expenses, etc.

A monthly direct debit is our most desired option and is currently provided by 8 gracious supporters, but the quantum is not enough to sustain our operations. A one-off gift would also be appreciated.

To donate, go to our website, fill in your details and you will get an immediate email receipt for tax purposes.

CONGRATULATIONS INESFinally, we would like to congratulate our dear friend Ambassador Ines Almeida, who is doing a remarkable job as the new Head of Mission for Timor-Leste in Canberra.

Ines previously was a leader in the Veteran community in Timor and the principal facilitator for us in delivering Timor Awakening. Ines and her team have been working tirelessly with Honorary Consuls, Australian community organizations, and between our Governments to access the best care and resources required to support the highly vulnerable situation of Covid19 in Timor-Leste.


If you haven’t already please connect with the TL Embassy here and keep in touch with events and ways to get involved with helping her mission.

Watch our Facebook pages (TA and VCA) for updates on what’s happening, and please keep Saturday 14th of November 2020 free for our AGM and Christmas party.

Obrigado Barak!

God bless you
Your Padre Gary


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