Good News in Veterans Care – October 2020

Please join us for our end of year gathering on 14 November at 10am at Mates4mates, 27 Douglas St. Milton. We will start with a short AGM, some updates on activities (see my President’s Report for the 19/20 FY here) and then move to a nutrition and cooking
demonstration, then eat the results. We look forward to the social connection.
Please join us for our end of year gathering on 14 November at 10am at Mates4mates, 27 Douglas St. Milton. We will start with a short AGM, some updates on activities (see my President’s Report for the 19/20 FY here) and then move to a nutrition and cooking
demonstration, then eat the results. We look forward to the social connection.

In this newsletter, we will feature:

  • TA14 Rainbow Bay Wrap Up
  • Riak Retreat Timor Update
  • Strategic Developments with DVA and RSL
  • TA Evaluation Comments
  • Program Dates for 2021

Timor Awakening 14 at St George’s Defence Retreat

Timor Awakening 14 (TA14), conducted 5-14 September 2020 at St Georges Defence Suites, Rainbow Bay and in the Currumbin Valley was a great success.

Congratulations and recognition to Michael Stone and team who developed and lead an exemplary holistic health program evolving and adapting from our Timor-Leste program. We are planning continued delivery of our programs from there in 2021 with TA15 scheduled Sat 27 Feb to Sun 7 Mar 21.

Please invite your friends to complete an EOI (avail soon at A working group has formed to progress the Veterans Health Garden and Retreat on veteran David Freeman’s farm at Currumbin.

Volunteers are welcome to gather there every Wednesday morning from 8am.

Riak Retreat Development Update

The Riak Retreat development at Same in Timor-Leste continues despite considerable challenging conditions due to Covid19. To date we have raised $200,000 for this project and progress has been remarkable! In the last six months, with our funding and coordination with the Timorese Veterans, we have successfully discovered fresh water at 50m depth and established a permanent fresh water bore/well that is now connected to 4 x 20,000L water tanks. Until now, the entire village and school have had a trickle of water. This has made a huge impact in the health and wellbeing of the entire village of Dai-Sula and they are immensely grateful. In addition, a 6 x bathroom building has been completed and a 20 x 8m dormitory and teacher accommodation block is nearing completion as can been seen in the photos. On completion a new kitchen will be built as well as a 20m x 8m outdoor classroom building. We are looking to be well positioned to start the English school classes in 2021. We will be fundraising for a further $150,000 to purchase a vehicle, build agricultural facilities and accommodation for paying visiting groups, veterans, volunteers and tourists. Updates for the project can be seen at

Strategic Developments with DVA and RSL

Timor-Leste remains COVID-free after months of very strict restrictions. Border closure looks likely to continue into 2021. We will return there as soon as it possible! We are in close contact with the Timor-Leste Embassy and our good friend Ambassador Ines Almeida in working on a number of ongoing and future projects such as Riak Retreat, the Timor-Leste Veterans Council, future Timor-Awakening programs and support to the Covid Crisis.

Throughout COVID we have continued to provide pastoral care, peer support and holistic health education, whilst also achieving traction at the strategic level in influencing DVA and other significant collaborators in Veterans health in promotion of peer support and transformation from an illness focus to a wellness focus. DVA are digesting our input to their Rehabilitation policy review, and we have teamed with RSLQLD in responding to a Request for Tender to become a DVA peer support provider. We are also in dialogue with a Federal Parliamentary Working Party interested in supporting engagement with our regional neighbours through veteran initiatives like Timor Awakening.

Advocating and witnessing to systemic change will be our biggest long-term contribution to Veterans and their families. All of this has only been possible through the generosity of many volunteers and donors. Thank you for your support and involvement.

TA Evaluation Comments

How are you feeling in comparison to how you were feeling before coming on this trip?

Enlightened, educated, energised all the E’s, looking forward to action.”

Lighter and reinvigorated – less pain in body and my gut is healthier.”

Dramatic increase in what I think I need to do for myself and how ie. Food.”

I am feeling lighter in my mind and have seen glimpses of my old self especially when engaging in activities such as Lumber punks and yoga.”

More confident, which was what I was searching for in a program.”

More relaxed and confident. I have let go of several aspects of guilt and resentment and have a plan to keep them from returning.”

Relaxed, full of hope, happy to face the world when ill come back home, full of new resolutions especially when thinking about nutrition.”

“I have enjoyed learning about new ways to manage my mental and body well-being.”

Much more relaxed, comfortable and content.”

I am very relaxed now, feeling revitalised and happier within myself.”

What discussion topic was the most interesting and impactful?

“The farm and organic foods, I did a lot of learning and about how life is connected.”

“Everything was interesting and relevant but the most impactful was learning about organic foods and farming and actually getting hands on.”

“Active listening – participant’s honesty about suicide made me feel like I was not alone.”

“Discussions after “A Heroes Journey” video and the sessions on grounding and self-mastery.”

“Gut health and nutrition together with the visit to David Freeman’s farm.”

“Freeman’s farm – the peacefulness of mother nature and organic farming activities.”

“Talking about forgiveness and change, hearing each person’s goal for change was very impactful, and going to the yoga and being inspired by Hughie.”

What was the most effective part of the program, in terms of education or inspiring your intention to change?

“The farm (organic food) came at the right time in my life to make positive change.”

“Making me look inwards for a change; really honest assessments to make change habits.”

“Forgiveness – letting go of the negative feelings and believing I need to fix everyone.”

“Open, honest and genuine people talking their truth that you can relate too, learning from others and the program.”

“The connection around issues that affect us all. The mentors and peers who were genuinely interested in you, who actually listened and included you.”

“Comradeship/ Mateship, knowing that others have done the journey and there is hope for a better quality of life.”

“The sharing by participants (including Peer Mentors) and Michael Stone as their experiences and willingness to share these was inspirational and showed what can be achieved in the face of ongoing impacts.”

“Opportunity to be new things, to be outside of my comfort zone, to share skills to self-improvement.”

“Hearing all the inspiring stories from participants, forgiveness, change and relationships, and having the outside activities helped everyone ground.”

Timor Awakening Planning Dates 2020/2021

TA Program dates for 2020 / 2021 (Covid)

  • TA15 (Gold Coast – Holistic Health Program)Sat 27 Feb to Sun 8 Mar 2021
  • TA16 (Gold Coast – Peer Mentor Program) Sat 15 to Sun 23 May 2021
  • TA17 (Gold Coast – Holistic Health Program) Sat 14 Aug to Sun 22 Aug 2021
  • TA18 (Gold Coast – Peer Support Program) Sat 30 Oct – Sun 7 Nov 2021

TA Program Dates for 2020 / 2021 (Timor)

  • TA15 (Timor-Leste Program) Sat 27 Feb to Wed 10 Mar 2021
  • TA16 (Gold Coast – Peer Mentor) Sat 16 to Sun 23 May 2021
  • TA17 (Timor-Leste Program) Sat 14 Aug to Wed 25 Aug 2021
  • TA18 (Timor-Leste – Peer Support Program) Sat 30 Oct – Wed 10 Nov 2021

Holistic Health Program: ​Domestic version of the Timor-Awakening program; an immersive, evidence based, peer to peer wellbeing program for veterans of self-mastery, composing holistic health education, group therapy, mentoring, physical activity and community development.

Peer Mentor Program: ​Domestic program enabling veterans with complex conditions who are willing to develop skills in becoming a peer mentor specialist. Veterans will conduct a range of self-mastery wellness modules for their own journey of health and well-being, being the first and most critical part of being an effective mentor. Secondly, the program workshops, demonstrates and exercises the range of skills to mentor veterans on wellness programs and in general engagement in the community.

Peer Support Program:​ Domestic program designed to support Veterans with complex conditions who have completed Timor Awakening or a similar program and in need for recalibration. The program includes focus on self-mastery, improving health and wellbeing, good nutrition and reconnecting with society. Individuals are mentored through the development of a new health and well-being plan, how to support mates and active volunteering.

Timor-Leste TA Program: An immersive, evidence based, peer to peer wellbeing program for veterans; composing holistic health education, group therapy, mentoring, physical activity, historical commemoration and community development. The program is centred around an 11-day immersion in Timor-Leste, creating a disruption from participant’s routine to take pause, learn about themselves and seize responsibility for a positive direction forward in life.

We are a caring association of “Good Samaritans”. May God bless you for your compassion and concern.

God bless you
Your Padre Gary

Thank you to our generous sponsors

We are grateful to all sponsors, but in this edition, we honor the Gold Coast City Council who has provided two $5000 COVID Grants to help us deliver rehab services on the Gold Coast. We look forward to continued collaboration with them.

City of Gold Coast
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