Commemorating Legacy WA’s 90 years of unrelenting support

FROM every war or conflict there is a confronting legacy – disabled and disturbed servicemen and servicewomen and shattered widows, partners, children and relatives.

For 90 years in Western Australia, unrelenting support has been provided by Legacy.

“If anything Legacy is stronger,” says Renee Benson who has taken on Legacy WA’s role of directing fund-raising and events.

Shaking-the-tin continues, especially during April and September “badge days”, with community support remaining strong.

About $100,000-a-year is collected in WA. While there has been fewer and smaller conflicts after the major wars, there are still many casualties.

There is now a focus on dealing with mental disorders including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among servicemen and women.

“In WA we support 6,200 widows, 22 disabled people and 65 juniors,” says Renee, 30, a Curtin University graduate who previously worked for the National Broadband Network, RSPCA and Ability Centre.

Nationally, there are 65,000 war widows and 1,800 children and disabled dependents who turn to Legacy.

Legacy, with services including counselling (outsourced), is notified of war casualties by the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Legacy then allows widows adequate time for grieving before offering them a legatee – a volunteer who listens to their concerns and directs them to the services available.

Historically, legatees were returned servicemen but today: “Legacy welcomes membership enquiries from people from all walks of life. There are about 6,000 Legatees throughout Australia, some having served Legacy for more than 50 years.”

Widows may need assistance to get the war widows pension or Gold Card. They may need financial aid or some other emergency support. Widows, without partners’ incomes, may struggle with heating bills in winter and need help to pay.

Legacy also provides security screens and security doors, alarms and distress equipment if needed.

Renee says support for Legacy in WA comes in peaks and troughs and they would like to even the flow during the year and encourage major corporate sponsorship.

Legacy is a charity “supported by men and women of all ages, from all walks of life and including veterans and current Australian Defence Force personnel.”

Support and services extend to dependents of members of the Australian Defence Force who have lost their lives or have become incapacitated as a result of military service. Legacy Australia, with 48 member clubs – and one club in London – reaches out from more than 300 locations.

There are Legacy offices in West Perth and Fremantle.

Legacy ambassadors have included WA’s VC hero Ben Roberts-Smith and Christine Simpson Stokes, wife of media mogul and philanthropist Kerry Stokes. WA’s Governors have been Legacy’s traditional patrons.

In 1923 in Hobart, General Sir John Gellibrand founded the Remembrance Club to encourage returned servicemen in business.

Stanley Savige, a former 24 Battalion Officer who had served on Gellibrand’s brigade staff, formed a club in Melbourne. The clubs evolved into Legacy.

Perth followed in 1928 under the direction of WWI veteran Charles Lamb.

In 1925 it was suggested that Legacy “should look into caring for the children of deceased servicemen. This proposal was accepted and Legacy found its soul. The legacy of care continues.

“Legacy is dedicated to caring for the families of veterans who have died or become incapacitated either on service or subsequently. This extends to veterans who have served in war and on peacekeeping and humanitarian missions.”

Legacy Week runs nationally from 2 – 8 September “to raise awareness and funds for the families of our veterans who’ve given their life or their health.”

Details: Legacy House, 1130 Hay Street, West Perth.
Phone 9486 4900.

Fremantle: 17 Parry Street.
Phone 9335 2764.

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Journalist, commentator, broadcaster and author. Lee, columnist for Have a Go News has reported for The Australian Financial Review, The Australian, The West Australian, Sunday Times, Albany Advertiser, Melbourne Herald, Launceston Examiner, Business News and national magazines. Lee has covered federal politics, industrial relations and national affairs. A public speaker, newspaper columnist and author of two books, Lee co-hosted 6PR’s current affairs radio. He also co-founded a stable of national business newsletters. Lee is former communications manager for a non-profit, mental health carers’ organisation.