As 2023 comes to a close, we look back at some of the wide-ranging stories we brought to you throughout the year.

These are the people that help tell RSL Victoria’s story. They embody the important and meaningful work we do for veterans and their families across the state.

James Farquharson

A seven-month deployment with the army as part of the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET) changed James Farquharson in ways he didn’t expect.

After returning home, he faced several challenges as he tried to readjust to what was once a familiar and comfortable life.

Gripped by the side effects of his deployment, James was referred to an outpatient Post Traumatic Stress Disorder course at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital.

With the help of an Advocate at the RSL, James was able to get the help he needed, securing a Totally and Permanently Incapacitated status, a pension and Gold Card.

ANZAC Day March Leaders

This year marked 70 years since the end of the Korean War.

To honour the nearly 18,000 Australians who served in that war, RSL Victoria brought you the stories of three surviving Korean War veterans.

John Munro, OAM RFD ED, was called up to do national service in 1952. At just 19 years old, he landed in Korea.

“I went over as a boy and came home a man.”

Lloyd Knight served with the Royal Australian Air Force, completing 45 missions over North Korea.

“I had nightmares about some of those attacks where I was firing napalm rockets at people, and some were civilians. That was horrible.”

John Moller, OAM RFD JP, yearned to join the Navy, so at 17 years old he enlisted.

The following year he was sent on aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney with a crew of about 1200, for a six-month deployment.

John Schumann

John Schumann

When John Schumann penned I Was Only 19 in his backyard, little did he know how life-changing it would be for him, and thousands of Vietnam veterans.

Not only did the song become an unofficial national anthem, but it changed the way Australians saw its Vietnam veterans and how Vietnam veterans saw themselves.

The lyrics captured the experiences of Vietnam veterans and what many of them struggled to share.

John reflected on its success and impact 40 years since the song’s release.

Ben Vahland and the Warragul RSL Sub-Branch

When a veteran faced some of the toughest times of his life, the Warragul RSL Sub-Branch stepped in to give him dignity in his dying days.

Nathan, who passed away this year aged 41, was plagued with mental health challenges and substance abuse.

Estranged from his family, the RSL tended to him when his own family couldn’t.

This is his story.

Michael and Vicki Mihaljcek

With their own love story beginning when he was a young man in the navy, Michael and his wife Vicki are on a mission for veterans.

It’s a labour of love for these two, giving hours of their time to support RSL Victoria’s annual ANZAC and Poppy Appeals.

After being an RSL member for many years, Michael wanted nothing more than to give back to an organsition that’s done so much for his mates.

Wheelchair AFL Stars

In a display of true team spirit and determination, the RSL Active team gave it their all during the 2023 Toyota Wheelchair AFL National Championships in Melbourne.

Up against an outstanding level of play and strong competition, the RSL team Active finished third place in Division Two.

Adding to the excitement, Dani Hale and Andi Kauer were selected to compete in the Women’s Expo Match, while Matthew Blunt was awarded the RSL Active Most Valuable Player for his efforts on the court.

“It’s been an absolute privilege to work with these amazing Veterans,” said Team Manager, Salina Parton.

Women of RSL Victoria

This International Women’s Day, we recognised and honoured the contributions of the women who tirelessly support veterans and their families.

RSL Victoria highlighted the work of seven women from the RSL, including a Sub-Branch President, a Military Compensation and Welfare Advocate, RSL Victoria’s Chief Executive Officer and the Veterans and Families Hub Wodonga Centre Coordinator.

Each woman shared their insights into who inspires them, what empowers them and any advice they have for other women.

William Meave

RSL Victoria loves bringing you stories about how the youth of today connect with Australian history and the RSL’s ongoing work for veterans and their families.

10-year-old William’s passion for the two world wars and subsequent conflicts inspired his family to take a road trip to the Australian capital.

They stopped at numerous war memorials and museums along the way, finishing up with a meaningful tour of the Australian War Memorial.

William took a moment to place a poppy next to the name of a family member killed in action during World War One.

“When I was there, I was just horrified seeing all the names and how many people didn’t come home,” William said.

Read On

Click here to read all the news and stories we brought you in 2023, and to stay up-to-date on all new stories in 2024.