How did Invictus Australia start?

Invictus Australia is owned and operated by Australian International Military Games, the not-for-profit charitable organisation that was responsible for organising Invictus Games Sydney 2018.

Formally known as Veteran Sport Australia (VSA), the organisation launched at the conclusion of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018. The Games acknowledged the sacrifices made by defence service personnel and pledged continuing support of veterans and their families throughout Australia, by providing local, grassroots sporting opportunities as well as delivering the Invictus Games Team every two years in partnership with the ADF. Invictus Australia is the delivery of a promise that the Games would be more than a one-off event.

VSA re-launched as Invictus Australia on October 28th, 2021, the three-year anniversary of the closing ceremony of the Sydney Games.

What does Invictus Australia do?

We support and encourage former-serving and serving members of the Defence community and their families as they connect and engage with their communities through the power of sport, at a grassroots level or internationally, to assist with recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration, or to proactively manage wellbeing. We do this by bringing together sporting, community and veteran organisations to break down the barriers to sport participation for all veterans and their families. Invictus Australia works as a peak body to develop a strong and connected system of sporting programs and opportunities, aiming to unlock many of the 70,000 sport clubs across 97 recognised sports in Australia. As well as promoting the physical, social and emotional benefits of sport, we shine a light on the unique needs of younger veterans and the challenges they face as they transition from military to civilian life.

What is a veteran?

The definition of a veteran, according to the Australian Veterans' Recognition (Putting Veterans and Their Families First) Bill 2019 is ‘a person who has served, or is serving, as a member of the Permanent Forces or as a member of the Reserves’. As previous Minister for Veterans’ and Defence Personnel, Darren Chester, noted, ‘… when we think of the word veteran, we tend to think of someone in their sixties or seventies. But from an ADF perspective, our veterans are often in their late twenties or early thirties.

Why is veteran health & wellbeing so important?

  • According to the 2021 census, there are 581,000 veterans in Australia, plus family members. This includes approximately 70,000 veterans who are currently serving or are reservists.
  • The median length of service of permanent ADF members is currently 8.7 years and the mean is less than 8 years.
  • Each year, around 6,000 veterans transition out of the ADF and into the civilian world. Of those transitioning, around 18% discharge for medical reasons.
  • An estimated 46% of ADF members who had transitioned from full-time service within the past five years met 12-month diagnostic criteria for a mental health disorder using a structured diagnostic interview.
  • 3 in 4 recently transitioned ADF personnel have experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime.
  • Half of people who have served in the ADF have experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime.
  • More than 1 in 5 recently transitioned ADF members report suicide ideation, plans or attempts.
  • Productivity Commission Inquiry Report, ‘A Better Way to Support Veterans’, Volume 1, No.93, 27 June 2019

We see the opportunity to harness the power of sport and the Invictus spirit, via regular international sporting events and always-on community engagement, to enable ongoing, locally activated sporting and recreational opportunities for veterans and their families, embedding the power of sport into their daily lives. Research shows this approach works.

“Physical activity has been shown to have a strong and positive influence on mental wellbeing and some mental illnesses. Participation in regular physical activity can increase self-esteem and reduce stress and anxiety. Physical activity can help play a role in preventing mental health problems and improve the quality of life of those experiencing them.”  Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK.

Do you support those with psychological injuries?

Yes, we recognise the positive impact of sport and recreation on both mental and physical wellbeing.

Does Invictus Australia only support wounded, injured or ill veterans?

Invictus Australia aims to improve the health & wellbeing of all veterans and family members through the power of sport. While our heritage and the Invictus Games movement has a focus on the rehabilitation, recovery and reintegration of wounded, injured and ill veterans and remains a focus of our work, we also believe in the preventative benefits of sport, all the way through the Defence journey. The sense of community, camaraderie and self-esteem that regular sport & recreation delivers can have lasting, positive impacts on mental and physical health. It’s never too early, or late, to embrace an active, connected lifestyle.

Are families included?

Yes, Invictus Australia welcomes family involvement where possible as we believe that by supporting military personnel and families that serve the country, wellbeing outcomes are improved. The Defence life affects the whole family unit, and sport and recreation can be a positive factor for ongoing health & wellbeing.

How can I get involved?

Contact us at support@invictusaustralia.org to find out about sport and recreation opportunities in your region, how you can support Invictus Australia or to share your story.

Follow the local Facebook Groups to stay informed on community activities:

Visit our Events page to stay across all activities. 

Do you provide funding support to help me with sport?

While Invictus Australia don’t provide direct financial assistance to individuals, we can recommend where to find funding sources in the community. Depending on your individual circumstances, there may be other organisations that can provide support, including the Department of Veteran Affairs, your local RSL sub-Branch, State Departments of Sport and Recreation and the Bravery Trust. 

How do I fundraise for or donate to Invictus Australia?

Click here to donate or fundraise to Invictus Australia. Members of the community often organise activities to raise funds for Invictus Australia. This could be via a run like Rodney, dedicating a round of your sporting club like Aberglasslyn Ants, organising a Morning Tea or joining our annual fundraiser. There are many ways to donate and fundraise to support Invictus Australia, so please reach out at support@invictusaustalia.org if you would like to discuss further.

What impact does my donation have on veterans & their families?

Your financial support allows us to fund and expand our team of Veteran Engagement Managers - members of the Defence community working on the ground in local communities, collaborating with veterans and their families, sporting organisations, government and ex-service organisations to improve health & wellbeing outcomes.

Your donation will allow us to run more adaptive ‘Come & Try’ days in local communities, annual Defence Sport Day events and activate our partnerships with National Sporting Partners to provide more veteran-centric sporting opportunities. 

It will also assist in funding our work to support Team Australia and their family & friends, as they prepare for and attend future Invictus Games and other adaptive sport events.

How is Invictus Australia funded?

As a not-for-profit organisation, Invictus Australia relies on Government grants and funding, corporate sponsorship and the generosity of public donations. Support Invictus Australia here or donate today.

Is this program national?

Yes! Invictus Australia is national and currently have Regional Veteran Engagement Managers based in the following areas, with plans to grow our footprint around Australia.

We also have partnerships and strong relationships with National Sporting Organisations across Australia, and actively encourage veterans & their families to reach out to us so we can find something that will work in your local community. We have great success helping veterans in this way, so if we don’t have a physical presence in your area, please get in touch as there’s always someone we can ask.

There is also a range of online activities to participate in, so please reach out for details.

How do I find out about programs or what’s on and happening in my area?

The easiest ways to keep up to date with local events, national campaigns, online opportunities and all other news, is by following us on social media, visiting our Events page on our website signing up to our newsletter. If you are in any of the following areas join your local FB group.

You can sign up to our e-newsletter here

Is Invictus Australia all about sport & competition?

Sport doesn't have to be competitive to reap rewards. At Invictus Australia, we believe the healing power of sport and recreation can be experienced through many channels. We have seen positive and lasting benefits on veteran rehabilitation, recovery, reintegration & wellbeing, by participating in coaching, mentoring, officiating and volunteering. Opportunities exist around the country in a myriad of sports from the NRL’s Battlefield to Footy Fields refereeing program, mentoring at sailing clubs, volunteering at your local parkrun or training as a surf or rowing coach. Also, many of these 'sports’ don't focus on competition, rather it's about participation, connection and a sense of camaraderie with like-minded people that understand the Defence experience.

What is your relationship with the Australian Defence Force?

Invictus Australia works collaboratively with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to support former serving members and their families to attend the Invictus Games and other adaptive sport activities.  While Invictus Australia is the licensed brand for the Invictus movement in Australia via the Invictus Games Foundation, the ADF has an operational role with the team selected to attend Adaptive Sporting Events such as the Invictus Games or Warrior Games. The ADF is recognised as the lead agency for Australia’s participation in the Invictus Games with the Chief of the Australia Defence Force determining Australia’s participation in this event.

What is the ADF Adaptive Sport Program (ASP)?

The ADF Adaptive Sport Program is a multi-sport program for wounded, injured or ill serving and former serving military personnel and includes both domestic and international events. The Adaptive Sports Program is the program from which competitors for the Invictus Games, Warrior Games and Allied Winter Sports Camp in Canada are chosen.

What is Adaptive Sport?

Almost all sport can be adapted to allow people with disabilities to participate. Adaptive sport allows modifications necessary for people with a disability to participate and many sports use a classification system that puts athletes with physical challenges on an even playing field with each other. You can read more information here

Do you work with the RSL?

Yes. Invictus Australia, formerly known as Veteran Sport Australia (VSA), collaborates with the RSL and all other ex-service organisations who seek to us the benefits of sport in the services they provide. In fact, VSA was originally established in 2018 by the RSL Welfare and Benevolent Institution (RSL WBI) and housed and operated within RSL NSW.  In July 2020, the VSA program was transferred to the Australian International Military Games (AIMG) - the charity which delivered the 2018 Sydney Invictus Games - to operate independently. Invictus Australia continues to work closely with the RSL and its membership wherever it is possible to do so.

Invictus Games, Team Australia and Teams and Events

Is Invictus Australia different from the Invictus Games?

Invictus Australia is more than an event. We support the health and wellbeing of all veterans and their families through sport and recreation, year-round, across the country. Whilst the Invictus Games can shine a spotlight on the sacrifices servicemen and women made serving their country, and their drive to overcome illness and injury, Invictus Australia helps ensure that all veterans can remain active and connected through sport within their local communities without the bright lights of the Games. However, the Invictus Games is an important part of what we do. We support & send 30 plus competitors to each Invictus Games as well as co-host training camps throughout the year. Invictus Australia works with the Australian Defence Force to deliver the national ADF Adaptive Sport Program for veterans who are wounded, injured or ill – including supporting the Australian Invictus Games and Warrior Games Teams. Invictus Australia is responsible for all former–serving competitors, while the Defence Force manages current serving personnel.

When is the next Invictus Games? 

The Invictus Games will head next to Vancouver Whistler in 2025. From February 8-16 Canada will welcome more than 500 competitors from 25 nations to experience the first ever Winter/Summer hybrid Games in Invictus Games history. 

For information about future Invictus Games, visit the Invictus Games Foundation.

How many competitors will be sent to the next Invictus Games in Canada?

The Invictus Games Foundation is responsible for setting the number of competitors, team officials, and friend and family members each nation can have participate at the games. The ADF and Invictus Australia will support the team to compete at the Invictus Games in 2025.

How is the Australian team selected?

The selection process for the Australian Invictus Games team, and the other Adaptive Sport teams starts with a call for nominations by the ADF. Interested competitors will complete an Expression of Interest (EOI) form. In previous years, over 200 applications have been received. Normally there would be a paper selection process to shortlist eligible competitors once the EOI period has closed. This would down-select the applicants to a number that would then be invited to a training/selection camp for each activity. It is important to note that selection into the Adaptive Sport Program (ASP), and any of the teams within that program, doesn’t rely primarily on competitive factors. The selection process aims to identify the individuals that would benefit most from the experience in their recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration efforts – taking into account attitude and behaviour, commitment and sportsmanship and to a lesser extent – readiness for competition. Training and selection camps are held for the different sports at various locations around Australia and a final team is announced. For the Hague Games in 2022, a team of 32 were selected, made up of 26 former serving personnel and 6 current serving ADF members. Competitors not selected to form part of the Australian team are offered opportunities to be involved in local sporting programs within their communities and typically build a strong relationship with the Australian Invictus Games team to support ongoing health & wellbeing through sport.

What are the classifications/categorisations for the Invictus Games?

In competitive sports for people with disabilities, a classification system is used so competitors with impairments can compete at an equivalent level. These are often sport-specific. For more information, you can visit Paralympics Australia or the International Paralympic Committee. In the Invictus Games competition, a slightly different approach is used, called Categorisation. Categorisation loosely follows the same principles as classification but is a different system that is built and updated for each Games, and provided by each organising committee.

If you would like more information about Invictus Games classification Categorisation, please get in touch at support@invictusaustralia.org

What events are typically held at an Invictus Games?

Competitors typically participate in one or more events for team and individual sports at the Invictus Games including athletics, archery, cycling, indoor rowing, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby.

How do participants benefit from being involved in the Invictus Games?

Participation in the Invictus Games provides an opportunity for current and former serving wounded, injured and ill military personnel to be part of an activity that focuses on their abilities, rather than their individual challenges. The games enables competitors to focus on what they can achieve post-injury and celebrate their fighting spirit through an inclusive sporting competition that recognises the sacrifice they have made. It is expected that participants will benefit from improvements in health, increased confidence, self-esteem and motivation.

What are the benefits of participation in Invictus Games to Invictus Australia, the ADF and the broader community?

The benefit of participation in the Invictus Games is an opportunity for the ADF and Invictus Australia to support wounded, injured and ill personnel as part of a unique rehabilitation opportunity, and to celebrate their achievements. It is also an opportunity for the Australian community to be inspired by the courage, determination and achievements of our wounded, injured and ill current and former serving personnel. Participation in the Invictus Games provides an opportunity for the public to recognise the sacrifices made by our current and former serving men and women.

Who developed the Invictus Games concept?

Having seen a British team competing at the US Warrior Games held in Colorado in 2013, Prince Harry decided to bring the concept of a similar international sporting event to the United Kingdom. The Invictus Games were launched on 6 March 2014 by the Prince at London's Copper Box arena. Prince Harry remains deeply committed to the Invictus Games in his role as Patron.

What is Invictus Australia’s relationship with the Invictus Games Foundation?

Invictus Australia is officially recognised by the Invictus Games Foundation to operate the Invictus brand in the Australian territory. As a direct legacy of the 2018 games in Sydney, we use the Invictus brand to benefit the entire veteran community. We work on a wide variety of community initiatives to support veterans and their families to engage in sport for their wellbeing.

Why is it called the Invictus Games?

“Invictus” means ‘unconquered’ in Latin. The Invictus Games celebrates the unconquered spirit of wounded, injured and ill serving and former serving military personal; using the power of sport to motivate recovery and support rehabilitation. The poem ‘Invictus’ by William Ernest Henley is the inspiration behind the title of these Games.

Where have the Games been held to date?

Previous Invictus Games include:

  • London (2014)
  • Orlando (2016)
  • Toronto (2017)
  • Sydney (2018)
  • The Hague (2020 – held in 2022)

To find out more about Team Australia at previous Invictus Games click here.

Why are family members accompanying the competitors?

Family and friends play a vital role in the support of ongoing recovery and rehabilitation of wounded, injured and ill current and former serving personnel. Family support is part of the Invictus Games ethos. Families attend the Invictus Games to share the experience and continue to provide valuable support to the competitors. Each competitor has the opportunity to take two family members or friends with them to the Invictus Games.

Where can I find out more about the Invictus Games?

More information on current and past Australian teams is available here

For general information on the Invictus Games please visit the Invictus Games Foundation website 

The Australian team can be followed via Invictus Australia’s social media accounts. You can also view past vision of Team Australia and past Invictus Games on Invictus Australia’s YouTube channel.

What were the outcomes of Invictus Games Sydney 2018?

The Invictus Games Sydney by the numbers:

Attended by over 1,000 family and friends of competitors, supported by over 1200 volunteers, attracted 105,000 spectators and reached 27.5 million people across the globe. 

At the time of the announcement, research indicated that 61 per cent of Australians were familiar with the Invictus Games. By the time the first competitor arrived in Sydney in October 2018, that figure had risen to 83 per cent as Australians of all ages and cultural backgrounds joined with us to embrace our Defence community, and to be inspired by their resilience and their unconquered spirit. 

The end of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 marked a new beginning for our wounded, injured and ill-serving and former serving military personnel. We inspired the wider community to respect and embrace those who have served their country and encouraged active and connected lifestyles through programs targeting sport and mental wellbeing. We educated the community to realise the valuable contribution our veterans can make in civilian life. The Games won the hearts and minds of the nation with research showing seven of every ten adults now want to play an active role in supporting our veterans. 

Research conducted following the games showed that 75 per cent of Australians want to do more to help Australian veterans.