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Veterans centre one vision for church’s mission

Spokesperson for the Veteran’s Family Centre project Jim O’Pray. Photo by Duncan Macleod

PLANS FOR a church-based community centre for veterans, their spouses and families is just one of the new vision for mission initiatives of the Queensland Synod.

The Uniting Church Veterans Family Centre will provide a range of professional services, community activities and personal support for veterans and their families, in the first church-based project of its kind in Australia.

Borneo veteran and Uniting Church member Jim O’Pray said many veterans suffered personal and family problems stemming from their experience of military service.

“While the RSL and the Department of Veterans Affairs provide for a range of services and supports, many of us believe the church also has a vital role to play with its community skills and the spiritual dimension it brings to meeting individual and family needs,” Mr O’Pray said.

“Many veterans are not well connected to existing networks, and there is a need for more support for spouses and families of veterans.

“This centre will not compete with or duplicate other services, but will play its own distinctive role and meet a great need across the Redlands.

“With service men and women also returning from the Gulf War, East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq, the needs of veterans and their families will continue to grow.”

Community assistance

The Uniting Church Veterans Family Centre will provide offices for professional services such as counselling and therapy, social work, advocacy support, financial advice, and family and marriage support. It will also offer a drop-in centre, a workshop, classes on practical life skills, arts and crafts courses, social activities, and a children’s play area.

A Garden of Peace in an attractively landscaped area is also proposed for the site.

Mr O’Pray said extensive consultation with veterans, community leaders, service professionals and politicians revealed enthusiastic support for the centre. The management team is consulting with veterans and the wider community the project develops so they can hear their comments and ideas and begin to involve interested persons in establishing the project over the coming months.

A vision for mission

Support and some initial seed funding will come from the Vision for Mission fund of the Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church.

“Initial site plans have been drawn up, and we’re drafting the foundational documents such as constitution and business plan that will give a secure basis for proceeding,” Mr O’Pray said.

Capalaba Church Council Chairperson David Busch said it was proposed to base the centre in an existing house on the church property, which would involve only slight modifications to the present structure.

The church and house grounds would also be modified to enhance parking, landscaping and church access.
Mr Busch said there was still a way to go in obtaining the relevant approvals but it was hoped the centre would open later this year.

Synod Vision for Mission Advocate Rev Duncan Macleod said it was encouraging to see a project developing out of an idea seeded at last year’s Synod gathering on the Gold Coast.

“The Vision for Mission Facilitation team are looking at the Veterans project as a test case as we prepare to seed other projects around Queensland.”

To read more about the Vision for Mission and how people can find support for new initiatives, visit www.visionformission.unitingchurch.org.au or contact Duncan Macleod on 3377 9809 or click here to email Duncan.

Photo : Spokesperson for the Veteran’s Family Centre project Jim O’Pray. Photo by Duncan Macleod