Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (17:41): I want to thank the member for Herbert for this private member's motion today, because I had the absolute pleasure a couple of weeks ago of attending the interim Nowra Veteran Wellbeing Centre, which is now up and running and providing support to veterans and their families. In fact, this centre was a bipartisan commitment before the last federal election. I'm delighted to see this centre up and running in an interim form.
The Nowra Veteran Wellbeing Centre will provide support to veterans and their families on the New South Wales South Coast and south-east New South Wales. That's a very big area, and we have a lot of very much loved veterans. We have a strong Navy presence at Nowra and Jervis Bay. We are home to HMAS Albatross, the only Navy aviation base in Australia. The squadrons and support staff provide a vital role around Australia and overseas. HMAS Creswell is Australia's only Navy officer training school, and just last week we saw the latest graduates from the new entry officers' course. I'm proud to say that both HMAS Albatross and HMAS Creswell are fully embedded in our community. Defence families play a significant role. Defence children go to our local schools and join our sporting and community groups, and defence partners work in our local community.
The new Nowra Veteran Wellbeing Centre is run by RSL LifeCare. The plans have been drawn up and it will eventually be located alongside RSL LifeCare's Dumaresq retirement village. But in the meantime a temporary premise has been set up in Nowra. I called in a couple of weeks ago to catch up with the centre manager, Marcus; the veteran support coordinator, Kane; and Gracie, the most adorable, well trained black Labrador. Marcus ably explained the services that will be run from the centre. Soldier On will have an important role to play as well, enabling veterans and their families to thrive. The services will be able to work together in an integrated way to service the best needs of our community. A trained psychologist is available for veterans and their families.
Kane had been very busy networking within the community—remember, it's a very large area—talking with RSL clubs and veterans organisations about the services. There are both networking and making good links within the community to get the word out there that the Nowra Veteran Wellbeing Centre is open. Indeed, when I was there, a veteran popped into the centre, so I think they are going great. I am a mom of a new army soldier, and, when I mentioned that, I could see Marcus and Kane's eyes light up. They said, 'This service is for you, too.' I was able to ask all sorts of very basic questions, and they knew exactly how to answer and put me at ease. Yes, Gracie was pretty reassuring, too! It got me thinking: this is exactly what the service is about. No question is too small, no issue too large. Whatever the issue, Marcus and Kane and the services are there to help guide and provide links to further help for veterans and their families if need be.
As the federal member for Gilmore, I've had an enormous opportunity to meet serving defence personnel and veterans, for whom I will be forever grateful because of their service and sacrifice to our nation. There are some things that stick in my mind, and they're not really formal things—in fact, they just happened—but they left a huge imprint on me. I was at the Nowra Show and a young defence veteran and his wife, who was about to give birth any day, approached me. He had recently discharged from the Navy. He had done his trade but needed to go back to TAFE to upgrade his skills. He was telling me the enormous fee that had to be paid. Another time I was doorknocking and I happened to meet another young man who had also recently discharged and was also contemplating his work options. He too had a family. I don't know these veterans' names, but I do know that they would be a fairly typical example of the enormous change in life on becoming a veteran and needing support.
When I think of the Nowra Veteran Wellbeing Centre I think of all of our veterans and their families. This is of course a wonderful centre. I congratulate everyone involved in the establishment of this centre. I look forward to the official opening of the permanent Nowra wellbeing centre in the not too distant future.