Dave Mabbs, the president of RSL Mandurah, has shared his experience of transitioning from military life back to civilian life, and acknowledges that it is a challenging process for most veterans. Mabbs himself struggled to find his footing when he was discharged from the army in 2001 after 22 years of service. He initially found it difficult to interact with civilians, but eventually found solace in the Returned and Services League (RSL), where he has been playing ever since.
The RSL is a support organization for veterans of the Australian Defence Force and their families. It provides a range of services and support to help veterans transition back into civilian life and to honor the sacrifices they have made for their country. The RSL also plays an important role in commemorating significant national occasions, such as Anzac Day and Remembrance Day.
The RSL sub-branch in Mandurah, which now boasts more than 770 members, is a safe meeting place for veterans to gather and seek support. Mabbs recognizes that ex-service persons can be prideful and may take time to reach out for help, especially if they are dealing with anxiety, hyper-vigilance, or PTSD. The RSL provides a welcoming and secure environment for veterans to relax and enjoy their new life without the constant fear of potential threats.
Unlike traditional RSLs, Mandurah welcomes veterans' families and members of the public to come and mingle with each other. The sub-branch is even working on an outdoor cinema for visitors to enjoy. As Anzac Day approaches, Mabbs reminds veterans that the RSL is there to provide an extra layer of support and guidance.
Mandurah and Rockingham have a high concentration of former service personnel, and the open environment fostered by Mabbs at the Mandurah sub-branch is set to be replicated on a larger scale with the Federal Government's veterans and families hub planned for Rockingham. This $5 million hub will provide tailored services for veterans and their families, including support for the transition into civilian life, advocacy and mental health services, and a range of community activities, including volunteer and sporting opportunities.