27 Mar Meet Your Executive – Ben Webb
Introducing, Dee Why RSL’s Executive Manager – Veterans Centre – Sydney Northern Beaches, Ben Webb.
Tell us about your journey so far and how you came to be the Executive Manager of the Veterans Centre.
After 12 years of service in the Australian Army, I was medically discharged due to chronic health conditions. After transitioning out of the Defence Force I focused on rehabilitation and finding a new purpose I could sustain with my conditions. While doing this I was extremely fortunate to participate in the Inaugural Invictus Games, London 2014. While at this event I met many others in a similar situation to myself. It was through these networks that my name was put forward for a job at Dee Why RSL to address younger veterans needs. Since beginning this work in January 2015, the role has evolved into my current position.
You have managed the Veterans Centre since its opening. How have you seen the Veterans Centre evolve?
I was fortunate that I had a great foundation to work from. Before I began work at the Veterans Centre – Sydney Northern Beaches (VCSNB) the Board and volunteers had done excellent work over the preceding years; establishing a network of advocates across the Northern Beaches and standardising Advocacy services (military legislation claims to Department of Veterans Affairs). Due to this work, the VCSNB has been able to grow to provide services to the greater Sydney region, delivered by a team of employed staff and volunteers. We now have a have greater presence on military bases and work with many current serving personnel and their families experiencing a medical discharge.
Describe the mission of the Veterans Centre in one sentence.
To ensure current and former servicemen, servicewomen and their families have the opportunity for growth through accessible support.
Volunteers play an important role in the day-to-day running of the Veterans Centre. What would you say to anyone thinking about volunteering?
Our volunteers perform a variety of unique roles but this area of work is not suited for everyone. Many of our clients and their families are facing significant life challenges – chronic health, financial hardship, homelessness, relationship breakdown. Assisting people while struggling with this can be very rewarding but also take an emotional toll. Our volunteer roles have different levels of exposure to these clients, however everyone must go through a thorough screening process. This process helps us identify any potential concerns we may need to work closely with the volunteer on. The last thing we want is for our volunteers’ health to deteriorate due to the volunteering they are doing.
What impact do you think the Veterans Centre has had on the community?
The Veterans Centre has worked hard to grow from the organisations grass roots, yet not lose its foundations. The organisation was founded by volunteers and volunteers are still an integral part of the Centre. We have employed social workers to assist our complex clients which has helped us to network with many other local community organisations. Overall, we guide people through some very hard times to help them become part of their community.
What are some of the most rewarding experiences that stand out to you since working at the Veterans Centre?
Without a doubt it is the client successes. Numerous people who have been in significant distress, literally the depths of despair, we have been able to support and assist, getting them the help they needed. Now, if you passed them on the street, you wouldn’t know they were in such crisis. They are moving on with meaning and purpose in their lives.
Outside of work, what would your perfect weekend include?
A simple weekend appeals, going to a café at one of our local beaches and enjoying the environment.
What’s something interesting most people wouldn’t know about you?
I participated in the Inaugural Invictus Games.
If you could have any topping on your pizza, what would it be?
What’s next for Ben Webb and the future of the Veterans Centre?
We are expecting reform in the next 18 months to the veterans community and how the government will support this community. We will be focused on continuing to provide an effective and needed service for current and
former service personnel and their families in a changing landscape.