The year that was: Invictus Australia’s 2023
Before we wrap up 2023 at Invictus Australia, we wanted to reflect on our incredible community and some of the moments that made the year special. We took meaningful steps towards our vision, where all members of the Australian Defence community are connected through the power of sport. The healing nature of sport continued to be a central theme and in true Invictus spirit, resilience, courage and mateship were on display at all our community and international events.
Whether it be expanding our team, announcing new sporting partnerships, holding grassroot sporting events or attending the Invictus Games 2023 Dusseldorf, this year allowed us to reach more veterans and their families than ever before.
As we continue to work towards our mission, it is crucial to express our gratitude to those who played a pivotal role in bringing these moments to life. Collaboration is at the heart of everything we do – without our sporting partners and clubs, ex-service organisations, the Invictus Games Foundation, the Australia Defence Force, Federal and State governments, community organisations, our Patron Sir Peter Cosgrove, ambassadors and our corporate partners, we could not continue to foster connection through sport and carry on the Invictus movement across the country. Collectively, we embody the spirit of being Unconquered Together.
Now, let’s revisit the remarkable journey of 2023.
COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION AND LOCAL IMPACT
In 2023, Invictus Australia took a significant step to growing our veteran community at a local level, appointing seven new Veteran Engagement Managers across the country thanks to funding from the Department of Veteran Affairs. The growth of the Invictus Australia team marks a pivotal moment in our commitment to providing grassroots sporting opportunities to Veterans and their families across the country. Since then, these managers have been instrumental in forging local partnerships, facilitating sporting events and creating strong connections for veterans who can now connect through sport within their community.
Thanks to the incredible impact our Veteran Engagement Managers have had on the community, 3,684 veterans and family members have participated in 182 community sporting events. Their impact was amplified by the partnerships Invictus Australia now has with 15 different national and community sporting organisations.
A huge week of community connection was during the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Veteran’s Health Week, which was observed across the country from October 8th to 15th 2023. The week’s theme, “Mental Wellness Matters,” is one that underpins Invictus Australia’s mission, and we celebrated by facilitating 66 local sporting events across the country, where 1,059 veterans and their family members turned up to get active and form connections with others in their community.
Want to get involved in local sporting activities in 2024? Head to our new events page to see what is happening in your community. Created in June this year, the page acts as a comprehensive overview of local activities Invictus Australia are facilitating across the country.
Invictus Australia around tHE GLOBE
Despite our strong community impact across the country during 2023, we also continued our support of the Australian Veteran community on the global stage, contributing to the Invictus movement through international events.
We kicked off the year strong, partnering with the Australian Defence Force to send a team of six former and current serving veterans to Whistler, Canada, as part of the Allied Winter Sports Camp. The team got to try their hand at a number of Alpine sports, including Sledge Hockey and Bobsleigh and, more importantly, had the chance to form new connections through sport with other veterans from Canada, United Kingdom and the United States of America who are all using sport to foster their recovery and rehabilitation.
Fast forward to September, where Team Australia, featuring 31 former and current serving Defence Force members touched down in Dusseldorf, Germany, for the Invictus Games 2023. Invictus Australia and The Australian Defence force partnered to support these competitors and almost 100 of their family & friends.
The Invictus Games 2023 in Düsseldorf was an unforgettable celebration of joy, determination and optimism.”
From Indoor Rowing to Wheelchair Basketball, Team Australia competed with grit, strength and determination, as their family members cheered them on from the sideline. It was an action-packed week of triumph and mateship – relive the action below.
spreading our wings: invictus australia’s partnerships
The successes of 2023 would not have been made possible without the collaboration of sporting partners, ex-service organisations, corporate partnerships and the support of our Patron and Ambassadors.
While Team Australia flew the flag over in Germany for the Invictus Games 2023 Dusseldorf, they were energized by the support they were given back home by the Invictus Australia Patron, Ambassadors and other familiar faces.
It was also a monumental year for sporting partnerships, where we welcomed the collaboration with a number of national and community sporting organisations. These new partnerships allow Invictus Australia to continue to increase the number of veterans and their families that benefit from the healing and unifying power of sport for veteran’s rehabilitation, recovery, connection and building mental fitness.
Dragon Boat Federation of Australia
The new partnership between Invictus Australia and the Dragon Boating Federation of Australia has allowed us to deliver a number of Dragon Boating events across the country already! Perfect for all skill levels, this partnership has allowed us to reach a greater number of veterans who are keen to find a sense of community and mateship through sport.
As the fastest growing sport in the world, it was fitting that Invictus Australia aimed to facilitate a number of pickleball events within local communities this year by joining forces with Pickleball Australia. The two organisations shared values of accessibility and inclusivity make this collaboration a match that is already being enjoyed by the Invictus Australia community.
In May, it was time to announce another instrumental partnership, Invictus Australia x True Grit. True Grit, known for its challenging, military-style obstacle courses, generously offers a number of free tickets for Team Veteran (Established by Invictus Australia) to their events across the country. In addition, the Invictus Games Foundation funds members of the wounded, injured and ill community to participate. From South to Western Australia, Team Veteran have already shown True Grit across the country, taking this partnership by storm.
Water Polo Australia
Furthering our aquatic sport offerings, Invictus Australia also collaborated with Water Polo Australia earlier this year. Committed to their newly launched Inclusion, Diversity and Equity strategy, this partnership will help to make the sport more accessible to all individuals who are willing to give the sport a go.
Surf Life Saving Australia
Our most recent partnership saw Invictus Australia partner with Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA). The partnership will see veterans and their families participating in Surf Life Saving through the provision of unique opportunities by the organisations.
To learn more about all of Invictus Australia’s sporting partners, click here.
invictus australia turns five!
In October, we marked the five-year anniversary of Invictus Games Sydney 2018, which kickstarted the local legacy that is Invictus Australia thanks to support from the Australian public, ESOs, Government and corporate Australia.
Since then, the organisation has continued to support the rehabilitation and recovery of veterans and their families by harnessing the power of sport at a community and international level, as well as supporting mental, physical and social wellbeing of the entire Defence community. Wherever you are in your Defence journey, we believe sport can build a strong foundation of wellbeing, and we aim to facilitate these opportunities around the nation.
community support – invictus australia fundraising
We were touched by the support we received through fundraising efforts this year, which saw passionate individuals and groups raise funds to support our work.
We ran the ZERO600 Challenge for the second time, where participants rose at ZERO600 for six consecutive mornings, and were encouraged to get active and connected with others while supporting the Invictus movement in Australia. We raised $60,000 in 2023 and hope to make an even bigger splash when the event returns in 2024.
We could not talk about the support Invictus Australia receives without mentioning Rodney ‘Rocket’ Cottam, who has raised closed to $100,000 in the past 18 months to help Invictus Australia strengthen veteran communities through the power of sport. A former paratrooper who is paralyzed in his left arm due to a motorcycle accident, Rodney ran from Coffs Harbour to Sydney over 5 days in July this year to raise awareness and garner support for Invictus Australia. Run Rocket Run!
Excitingly, 2023 saw the launch of our Fundraising Hub, a space for individuals to fundraise in their own way to support Invictus Australia. Funds raised allow us to employ local veterans or family members as Regional Veteran Engagement Managers in local communities across Australia to develop sport & recreational activities for the entire Defence community; as well as fund wounded, injured and ill former-serving competitors to attend international events such as the Invictus Games, Warrior Games and Winter Allied Sport Camp in Canada.
the year ahead: 2024 at invictus australia
What is next for Invictus Australia and our journey to strengthening veteran communities through sport?
More, more and more! More local activities! More exciting Sporting Partnerships! More True Grit! More international sport events!
At the grassroots community level, our Veteran Engagement Managers will continue to foster relationships with local community sporting groups and aim to broaden the sporting events offered and the number of veterans who these events will reach! Keep an eye on our events calendar for new events in your local community.
There are so many global sporting events to look forward to! In June 2024 Team Australia will attend the Warrior Games in Orlando, Florida thanks to a partnership between Invictus Australia and the Australian Defence Force. Then we will head to the Lifesaving World Championships on the Gold Coast in August, where Team Invictus Australia will enter as the only international military team in the competition. Preparations, team selection and training camps will also be underway for the Invictus Games Vancouver Whistler 2025, taking place in February of that year.
As a global movement, The Invictus Games will celebrate 10 years of changing lives of veterans through sport in September, and we will look back on Australia’s contribution to this shared mission. As an organisation, Invictus Australia will continue to support Veteran communities across the country by inspiring mateship, community and unwavering spirit through the power of sport.
why invictus australia exists
There are almost 600,000 veterans in Australia, with an approximate 6,000 transitioning out of the Australian Defence Force each year. Close to 20% of those who leave the service are discharged for medical reasons out of their control which can have a significant impact on their mental health.
Furthermore, The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has identified that younger veterans and especially those who are medically discharged – approximately 18 percent of those transitioning or around 1,000 individuals each year – are most at risk of death by suicide.
Invictus Australia endeavours to reach more of these veterans and their families through the power of sport. Research has proven that sport has the power to connect and support the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing within this community. It aids the rehabilitation, recovery and reintegration of those transitioning out of the military back into civilian life.