An initiative of the seaside town of Robe, South Australia, providing respite for returned Australian Defence Force veterans and their families, within beautiful surrounds and a welcoming community.
How could the Robe community show their support and appreciation for Australia's contemporary veterans and their families? This was the question Jacqui Bateman asked me during our very first conversation back in 2015 and it started an ongoing dialogue between us that lead to the creation of the "Robe to Recovery" respite program.
Such was her desire to see the community of Robe come together to support our veterans that her concept for a community based respite program began to take shape. It began with an offer to make Jacqui's own B&B accommodation available to veterans and their families up to 4 times per year free of charge. An opportunity for the veteran and their partner or family to take time out from the pressures and stress of day to day living in a supportive community that offered more than just a place to stay.
But this wasn't enough, Jacqui decided to enlist additional support from the Robe Tourism Association, a group of community business owners, of whom she was a member, who meet regularly and collaborate for the benefit of Robe. The response was immediate and positive with offers of vouchers, gifts, goods and services flowing from the group backed up with cards and personal letters for the visiting veteran and their family acknowledging and thanking them for their service and sacrifice.
The concept grew quickly to become a community program with unbelievable results. The first veterans to visit expected nothing more than a short stay but were completely overwhelmed by the reception they received and humbled by the outward show of support from complete strangers.
The healing value of this program can not be understated, not only for the veteran but also for their partner or family. Reintegration into family life and the community can be difficult following deployments and this was the perfect environment for those who were struggling as a result of their service.
We are enormously proud of the Robe to Recovery program and we hope that other communities will adopt it themselves in a show of support for those who sacrifice so much and put their own lives and family time ahead of our own so that we may enjoy this wonderful country and everything it has to offer.
We thank Australia's serving men and women, past and present, for the selfless work they do to protect our borders and keep us safe.
The community of Robe welcomes all who serve and through the Robe to Recovery program offer their support for those who need it.
Special thanks to the Robe Tourism Association.
A special thank you to ABC Australia for showcasing this initiative on the January 1, 2018 episode of 'Back Roads'.
To view the episode, click here.
If you would like to make a contribution, please click this link to our GoFundMe page.