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Children enjoying NEC ice-cream at the Canberra Defence Day

Exciting Canberra community defence day filled with sport, social connection and a new milestone.

Sunshine, smiles, and a spirit of inclusivity filled the air at Invictus Australia’s Canberra Sports Day, marking a momentous occasion – surpassing 10,000 veterans and family members supported through sporting events.  

Held at Tuggeranong Archery Club, the day welcomed over 700 veterans and family members of all ages and abilities, who enthusiastically participated in a diverse selection of sports, spoke to ex service organisations who could offer them support and connected with those in their local community with shared experiences.  

The third annual Sports Day could not have been possible without Stephen Slack, Invictus Games Alumnus, who knows first-hand the importance of sport in a veteran’s recovery journey.  

Slack was diagnosed with mental health and physical injuries in 2019 which led to him being discharged from the Defence Force after back-to-back deployments. He credits archery to getting him up off the couch and reconnecting with his local community. His skill and interest in the sport led to him being selected to represent Australia at the Invictus Games The Hague 2022.  

Steve Slack, Mocha and Nicole Lawder MLA at the Canberrra Defence Day
Steve Slack (right) and Nicole Lawder MLA at the Tuggeranong Archery Club

” Whilst I am shooting arrows, wheeling a rugby chair around, coaching or volunteering, there is no time for negative thoughts, and it makes me move and get off the couch. Sport provides me with a purpose, and like a bow and arrow you sometimes need to go backwards to go forwards to reach the target.”  – Steve Slack 

Slack has been part of this day since its conception three years ago and continues to facilitate the use of Tuggeranong Archery Club each year to be used for this important event for the local Defence community.  

Along with the more than 700 veterans, it was so valuable to have Senator David Pocock and Nicole Lawder MLA in attendance to experience the power of sport on the Defence community, aswell as chat to local current and former serving veterans to help identify areas where support is needed in their local community. Reflecting on the event, Senator Pocock described it as a success.  

Senator David Pocock (right) chats to Invictus Australia's Debbie Dimmock
Senator David Pocock (right) chats with Invictus Australia’s Debbie Dimmock

“Sport is at its best when it is creating safe spaces for people to come together, to connect, to challenge themselves and really create a community.”


independent senator for the act

Continued support from corporate sponsors 

We were so lucky to have the support of two of our Premier Partners, NEC and IPAR, who brought the fun with them by donating an ice cream van and lawn games which became a favourite among the attendees – especially the kids!  

Jamie Hollebone, Director of Commercial Partnerships at Invictus Australia, reflected on what this continued support means for the organisation.  

“We are incredibly grateful for the fantastic support we received from our Premier Partners – IPAR and NEC Australia during this year’s Community Defence Day.  

Having these leading organisations stand alongside us demonstrates a shared commitment to empowering veterans through the power of sport. We look forward to continuing this collaboration and creating even more impactful events in the future.” 

A day of sport and connection 

From archery and wheelchair rugby to table tennis, pickleball, and bowls, the event offered something for everyone. For those seeking a high-intensity workout, indoor rowing provided a challenging yet rewarding experience. For those wanting to explore emerging technologies, there was a chance to race drones or try out esports.  

This vast array of options ensured that all participants, regardless of physical limitations or experience, could find a sport that would allow them to connect with the other members of the Defence community present. 

It was so lovely to hear the positive effects sport can have on the Defence community through chatting to the attendees of this day. Like that of a defence spouse, who says that sport will be an amazing way for her to form relationships since she is new to the area.

“We moved to Canberra three months ago and don’t know anyone in the community. With my husband away working and two kids to look after, seeing all these local sports on offer for me and the kids – this will get us out of the house and making friends in the community.” – Canberra Defence Community Day attendee

Special thank you to our sporting partners and the local clubs that were on deck to help facilitate these sporting opportunities: Tuggeranong Archery, Raiders Wheelchair NRL, Table Tennis Australia, Pickleball ACT, Bowls Australia, Rowing ACT, Australian Esports League, Veteran Gaming Australia.  

Volunteers: The Heart of the Event 

The success of the Sports Day was significantly bolstered by the dedication of a fantastic team of volunteers. These individuals generously donated their time and energy to ensure a smooth-running and enjoyable experience for everyone. From assisting participants with equipment to providing enthusiastic encouragement, the volunteers truly embodied the spirit of Invictus Australia. 

We were so lucky to have a number of relevant organisations present to provide advice and support to the veterans and family members that attended. The Defence community was able to connect with key Defence Support Organisations, including DMFS, Defence Health, Defence Bank, Australian Military Bank, Smart Salary, Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling, Duntroon Community Centre, Kookaburra Kids, Australian Military Wives Choir, and many others. The conversations had and support provided proved the importance of collaboration when providing support to veteran communities at a local level.  

A Milestone and a Promise

The event was the perfect backdrop for an important milestone – surpassing the 10,000 veterans and families mark of participants at community sporting events. Hearing the personal stories of how sport can be essential in the Defence communities’ social connection and wellbeing means there is still so much more of the Defence community that could be positively impacted by sport. We remain committed to expanding our reach and providing even more opportunities for veterans and families to reconnect, rebuild their strength, and rediscover their passions. 

When asked to reflect upon this event, it was clear that for event lead and Veteran Engagement Manager Debbie Dimmock, sport is the aspect that makes the day such a favourite.

Sport has such a powerful impact on the Defence community. It brings people together, helps them find their tribe – whether they want to play in the sports themselves or if they want to volunteer. It gives people a purpose, it is fantastic for physical and mental health and so important for social connection.”


regional veteran engagement manager – act & Southern nsw

This Community Sports Day was a testament to the transformative power of physical activity, community spirit, and unwavering support. With continued collaboration from volunteers, corporate partners, and sporting and ex-service organisations, we will continue to work to strengthen the lives of veterans and families through sport.  

Our local engagement team runs community sports days, and facilitates a variety of sporting events, in the local communities they oversee. To get involved and to be notified of local events in your area, sign up to your local Facebook group below.  

Looking to get involved in sport in your region? Connect with our staff through your regions Facebook group or email