END OF AN ERA: Retiring Veteran’s support officers Paul McDermott, Ken Barclay and Bruce Hurrell with Mildura RSL Pension Officer in training Tammie Doering.

AFTER 20 years of voluntary service to serving and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force, war widows and their dependents, the Sunraysia Regional Veterans Centre (SRVC) will be closing its doors at 12 noon on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 for the last time.

“After this date all inquiries regarding compensation claims to the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) and all welfare matters should be directed to the Mildura RSL by phoning 5023 1888,” Secretary Ken Barclay said.

“All claims that have been submitted to DVA prior to December 19 will still be dealt with by the pension officer who handled those claims.”

Mr Barclay said it should be noted that the three volunteers who work at the centre, Paul McDermott, Bruce Hurrell and Ken Barclay, will still make themselves available to assist Mildura RSL on any matters pertaining to claims and other information that affects veterans’ daily lives for the next 12 months.

In the meantime, Mildura RSL, in conjunction with the SRVC, are already in the process of training a pension officer to take over these duties.

After a long period of service the volunteers feel it’s time that they gave a bit more time to themselves and their families, and have either reached, or are over the age of 70.

Mr Barclay, speaking on behalf of the SRVC, said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to serve this community, fighting for the rights of those who have given their time to this country during times of conflict, peacekeeping and peacemaking, whether they served overseas or in Australia.”

“We’ve seen over 20,000 clients during this time, and we leave this centre with a success rate of 85 percent in obtaining more than $100 million in compensation due to those who have served their country in the ADF, and the widows who have been left behind,” he said.

“We would also like to pass on our sincere thanks and gratitude to our Administration Service Officers over this time, especially Judy Russell, who has been with us for just on 12 years.”

Mr Barclay also acknowledged the “kind and very generous” ongoing support from Mildura RSL, especially general manager Kim Archibald.

“They have been behind us since we opened on day one, and have never said ‘no’ to anything that we have asked for,” he said.

“We also thank the numerous organisations in the area that have supported us during this time, with their generous donations and grants.

“These include the Red Cliffs and Irymple RSL, Merbein and Robinvale RSL, Vietnam, Korea and South East Asian Association, Mildura RSL Angling Club, the Mildura Rural City Council Community Grant Scheme and also the many donations from grateful clients.

“Our gratitude also extends to the DVA, who provided grant funding through their ‘Building Excellence in Support and Training’ program.

This funding has enabled the centre to purchase IT equipment, and to pay administration costs and cover salaries for our administration service officer.”

The SRVC has asked clients to visit the centre in advance of the closure date to collect their personal files, as these may be needed for future dealings with the DVA.