Pollies vow to ‘unleash hell’ over homeless veterans crisis


THE region's leaders are calling on the federal government to step in and provide urgent funding to fix an unfolding homeless veterans crisis in Townsville.

Yesterday, the Townsville Bulletin revealed a group of about eight veterans were living in a bush camp cut off from society.

The group's story is fast becoming just the tip of the iceberg, with Kennedy MP Bob Katter saying he also knew of homeless veterans sleeping rough in the Charters Towers region.

"I am very pleased this has been raised in the public arena and it will not go away," Mr Katter told the Bulletin yesterday.

Member for Kennedy Bob Katter. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)
Member for Kennedy Bob Katter. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

"I've seen it again and again, I know one of them and I've tried to call at least 20 times recently and no one knows where he is.

"He's not in a very good state of mind."

Mr Katter said he was outraged by the "lack of action" by the government and would be using the balance of power in the senate, with allies like Senator Jacqui Lambie to raise the issue.

"I've got Jacquie Lambie who has agreed to come up and she will unleash hell on what's happening with the veteran community here," he said.

"I don't care what (the Department of Veteran Affairs) says, they're given hundreds of millions of dollars by the people of Australia to look after these people and they better come back with action.

"I have called on a number of occasions for the abolition of DVA - all I know is the job is not even remotely getting done."

VVA president Peter Hindle at Zac’s Place. Picture: Shae Beplate.
VVA president Peter Hindle at Zac’s Place. Picture: Shae Beplate.

Peter Hindle, of veterans' emergency accommodation centre Zac's Place, said with help from the government the service could all but eradicate veteran homelessness in Townsville.

"For years I've been saying we need a new Zac's Place because even if we had another 10 rooms we'd fill those," he said.

"If the DVA wanted to get serious they'd give us a million dollars to help out, the government can do this they just need to step up.

"We get funding through DVA grants but we don't have a stream just flowing in and we have to raise our own as we've done for many, many years."

Veteran Luke Adamson regularly checks in with homeless veterans.
Veteran Luke Adamson regularly checks in with homeless veterans.

Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson said homelessness services was primarily a state issue to manage and he intends to investigate further.

"We provide $319 million to the state government for homelessness so its clear we need to being doing more and find out how much is being used in North Queensland,"

"One homeless person is too much, its not good enough there's veterans living this way.

The Department of Veterans and Defence Personnel doesn't offer housing support.

However, Minister Darren Chester said $11.5 billion would go towards supporting a 'range of services'.

"In Townsville, The Oasis Centre will receive $5 million to facilitate and enable integrated support for veterans and their families, and provide access to services responsive to local needs and opportunities," he said.

"Part of the Government's response is to ensure these factors are mitigated, before veterans and their families find themselves at risk of being homeless."