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Rachel Kerrigan, one of Invictus Australia's Veteran Engagement Specialists, refs a game of wheelchair rugby at the School of Infantry

Hope through collaboration, with the School of Infantry

January 27th, 2022: Wounded, ill and injured soldiers at the School of Infantry now have a pathway to hope thanks to a new partnership with Invictus Australia

A new partnership between Invictus Australia and the School of Infantry has opened up an exciting range of sporting pathways and opportunities for the veteran community. This new collaboration was developed by Invictus Australia Veteran Engagement Specialist Rachel Kerrigan, the School of Infantry’s Officer Commanding of Soldier Support Company Maj Kathleen Pisani and Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Michael Kitcher. It seeks to offer wounded, injured or ill soldiers access to new sporting opportunities, connect them with the community and improve their health and wellbeing.    

Kicking goals with the Battlefield to Footy Field program 

We kicked off the new collaboration in conjunction with our partners at the NRL and our renowned Battlefields to Footy Fields program. Held at the School of Infantry, we ran a Level 1 Sport Trainer course which saw several veterans, trainees and a number of staff (including WO2 Kitcher) participate. The course covers emergency situation management, first aid from injury management, crisis management and concussion management, as well as sports taping and how to safely transport an injured player. 

An excellent example of community collaboration and engagement, those who graduated from the course we able to later connect with the local Singleton Greyhounds and Aberglasslyn Ants Rugby League teams to further develop their skills and experience. 

Adaptive Sports Afternoon with Wheelchair Sports NSW/ACT 

On November 4th 2021, the Infantry School’s Rehabilitation and Transition Platoons got to participate in an adaptive sports afternoon in conjunction with our partner, Wheelchair Sports NSW/ACT. Trainees participated in Wheelchair Rugby and Wheelchair Basketball. Little known fact – able-bodied participants are also encouraged to participate in wheelchair sports! Having all players in wheelchairs levels the playing field and opens up more opportunities to wheelchairs users. 

Rachel Kerrigan, one of Invictus Australia's Veteran Engagement Specialists, refs a game of wheelchair rugby at the School of Infantry
Photo credit: Australian Defence Force

The aim of the Adaptive Sports afternoon was to promote health and wellbeing through sport, teamwork and positive culture. Trainees worked on their physical and mental endurance whilst exploring alternative sporting pathways. 

Maj Pisani was incredibly grateful to Invictus Australia and Wheelchair Sports NSW/ACT for bringing this opportunity to the trainees at School of Infantry. 

“The trainees really seemed engaged in the wheelchair activity, which was a huge step in the right direction. There were lots of smiles and laughs, with some of them picking it up really well and demonstrating some potential, should it be something they wish to pursue in the veteran community.” Maj Pisani said.  

Setting sail with the Saltwater Veterans 

The partnership grew further throughout 2021 moving from land to sea. On the 19th November, a group of trainees and staff from the School of Infantry travelled to Sydney with Veteran Engagement Specialist, Rachel, to participate in a veteran sailing day. The event was hosted by our partner, Saltwater Veterans and was held at the beautiful Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.  

The day was a great chance for the trainees to meet other veterans from around Australia and discover all the physical and mental benefits of sailing and being on the water. Over 40 veterans attended the day, including the veteran volunteers from the RPAYC and Scott Reynolds the driving force behind Saltwater Veterans. 

“Collaboration and support between organisations is what truly puts veterans’ health and wellbeing upfront,” said Scott. 

Saltwater Veterans supporting the School of Infantry, organised by Invictus Australia

The true representation of Unconquered Together 

Described as the ‘perfect partnership’ by Maj Pisani, Invictus Australia and the School of Infantry will focus on further exploring and developing opportunities for the veteran community. 

A range of events have already been planned for 2022 with support from our sporting and community partners including Surfing NSW, Bowls Australia and local sporting clubs and organisations.   

“Collaborating with and the relationship that has been formed with the rehabilitation and transition platoon has been so important. It allows us to engage with veterans at a time that their mental and physical health is suffering. It is so rewarding to see these guys and girls laughing, smiling and just having fun. It has been amazing to hear feedback from community sporting groups on how much these veterans are giving back to their local communities. We can provide positive pathways through sport that provides them with options for their future outside of Defence that they may not be considered previously,” said Rachel Kerrigan, Invictus Australia’s Veteran Engagement Specialist.    

Invictus Australia is looking forward to continuing this partnership in 2022. If you are interested in partnering with Invictus Australia, or learning more about our national initiative, please get in touch via support@invictusaustralia.org 

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