Invictus Australia rolls West – official expansion announced by Minister in his home state
Wednesday 23rd August, 2023
The Hon Matt Keogh, Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel, officially announced Invictus Australia‘s expansion into Western Australia at South Perth Bowling Club, alongside local veterans, community groups, ex-service organisation, sporting groups, Invictus Games competitors and alumni, and other interested parties.
While Hannah Laws was appointed as Invictus Australia’s first WA Regional Manager Veteran Engagement earlier this year, the event was an opportunity for the Defence community to come together to mark the expansion, discuss the community work of Invictus Australia and how local groups can collaborate for collective impact.
Minister Keogh noted, ‘
“‘Part of the work that Invictus Australia is doing through the funding from the Federal Government is to connect veterans to local community sport. Because we know when Defence personnel leave Defence and move into civilian life, getting reconnected to community is vitally important to a successful transition.’
The Minister had advice for all local veterans and families keen to connect through sport.
“If any (WA) veteran out there is interested in getting involved in local sport, I’d say get in touch with Hannah, get in touch with Invictus Australia. They’ll be able to connect you through to a sporting club that can service you whether it’s all ability, whether it’s somebody who’s not got a disability at all, we want to see people participating in sport getting the mental resilience that comes from that, and the connection and network of people.”
As the daughter of veteran parents, and partner to an Aussie Army veteran of 12 years with whom she shares a young son, Hannah understands the challenges and opportunities that come with being part of the Defence community.
Hannah spent her childhood moving around the UK and the Netherlands before emigrating to Australia in 2016, which ignited her passion for supporting the veteran community. Hannah has a background in healthcare, and previously coordinated programs for Legacy WA, ensuring the families of veterans received the support and resources they deserve to secure their best future. Her professional and personal experience solidified her belief in the benefit of sport for mental and physical wellbeing.
When explaining Hannah’s role, the Minister noted, ‘(Hannah’s) role is to connect veterans into community sport…working with ex-service organisations, ourselves, other organisations like Soldier On, who are working with more contemporary veterans, to connect them to sporting organisations that are able to assist whether that’s at the elite level or whether that’s just at the community level. “
Invictus Australia CEO, Michael Hartung echoed the collective excitement of the WA launch. ‘We’re finally here in the West! We could not be more pleased and it’s really now about bringing our always-on Invictus approach to all parts of Australia.”
“We do this in two ways. Firstly, by supporting veterans to attend the Invictus Games, in partnership with the ADF. And secondly, by supporting veterans and their families to engage in sport at a community level. And while there are 31 competitors heading to Dusseldorf in Germany, there are many thousands more that we can impact and improve the health & wellbeing of, on a local front, through great sporting communities.”
Showcasing some of the sports available to local veterans via Invictus Australia’s partnerships, the Minister was invited to a three-minute challenge on the rowing erg by Perth local and Invictus Games participant, Adam Slot. We’ll let you ponder who won that friendly competition.
We were also delighted to welcome a range of local organisations, veterans and community members to the event, including current Invictus Games competitor Adam and Karney Armstrong, as well as alum Steve James. All of whom are testament to how sport plays an important role pre and post the bright lights of an Invictus Games, through sustainable, meaningful connections in local communities.
While most people recognise Invictus Australia’s role with the Invictus Games and are aware of next month’s Games in Germany, a critical part of Invictus Australia’s work involves activating sport and recreation opportunities into local communities to create sustainable approaches to improve the health and wellbeing of veterans and families. Whether this is via participating, volunteering, coaching, refereeing, mentoring or spectating – we believe in the power of sport to build social connections that reduce isolation, increase physical and mental health and generally support a positive outlook on life.
We do this with partnerships with a range of National and local sporting organisations, including but not limited to, Archery Australia, Bowls Australia, Dragon Boat Australia, parkrun, True Grit, the NRL, Rowing Australia, Table Tennis Australia, Water Polo Australia and others.
The WA expansion of Invictus Australia is made possible by the funding from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, of which we are immensely grateful.
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About Invictus Australia: Invictus Australia encourages veterans and their families to connect and engage with their communities through sport. Whether participating or volunteering at grassroots level, to competing internationally at an Invictus or Warrior Games, Invictus Australia leverages the power of sport to proactively foster good health and aid in recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration. Invictus Australia promotes the physical, social and emotional benefits of sport for all, and shine a light on the unique needs of younger veterans, particularly the challenges associated with transitioning from military to civilian life.