19 October 2021
Photography: RSL Victoria and Steve Gilmour
Not even restrictions in the world’s most locked-down city can stop RSL Victoria from getting veterans moving during Veterans’ Health Week (VHW).
“It could have been easy to just say no, throw our hands up in the air and say we’re not doing anything, too hard basket. But it just shows the resilience,” says Steve Gilmour, Program and Events Officer for RSL Active.
Steve says the enthusiasm to run the RSL Active program, whether it be online or in-person, demonstrates the RSL's ongoing passion to support veterans.
And off the back of a successful VHW last year, the veterans themselves are raring to go again, with some of the activities already fully booked.
"It just shows how driven the veterans are to be part of this social engagement and veteran community – they want to get together, do some activities and even participate online if that’s what it means."
What started off as foreign territory last year trying to plan VHW around Victoria’s lockdown and restrictions has meant many lessons have been learned along the way.
“We’ve had enough experience now with RSL Active to know that, certainly within the last 18 months, not all activities can be face to face or in person. We learned very early in the COVID outbreak that we have to adapt and adopt an online platform to deliver to veterans.”
Such has been the success of online classes, RSL Active has continued to run them throughout the year.
And offering an online platform means even more veterans can benefit.
“We are catering for those in more remote communities, those veterans that are in difficult to get to places, one might not have an RSL nearby, or an RSL that’s running any activities.”
All events have been planned in keeping with COVID-19 state government restrictions, which also means differences of what is on offer between metro and regional Victoria.
RSL Active is running several events, including a golf day and online Zumba, which is expected to be packed with as much energy as it was last year.
An online cooking class will dish up a taste of Greece, as participants cook up an authentic Greek dish in their own homes.
“That might not sound very physical but when you’re running around the kitchen trying to keep up with the online chef…it’s quite humorous at times!”
Nearly 20 Sub-Branches across the state are also hosting an array of events and activities, all in keeping with the “Get Moving” theme.
Steve points out that it’s an all-encompassing theme in the wellbeing space.
"Whenever you put your mind to doing something that’s activity based, you’re taken away from what you may otherwise be thinking…it just keeps an active mind, a healthy mind, as opposed to focusing on what many veterans are going through, which is a difficult period in their life with mental health."
Social engagement within the veteran community also goes hand-in-hand.
"The idea is you’ll do your activity and then hopefully have time afterwards, before, during to have that social connection, to be part of a group again and see what other people are going through, offer that peer-to-peer advice and just have a great time with like-minded people."
Due to the limitations currently in place, some in-person events have not been able to run, for instance the ‘Come and Try’ Wheelchair AFL event in Wodonga, which has been postponed.
Whatever it is that you choose to participate in, Steve hopes this might be the week to kickstart a lifestyle change.
“Get up, get doing something, be active whatever that may be, whatever capability you have, whatever level of fitness you have. But the idea is to put the focus back on health and wellbeing and in these times, help to reduce social isolation.”
Stop and take a selfie this VHW
This Veterans' Health Week, we encourage you to grab your phone and take a snap while you 'get moving' and post on your chosen social media platform. Use the hashtag #VeteransHealthWeek and don't forget to tag @rslvic in your post.
Together, let's amplify Veterans’ Health Week and support each other to get moving,
VHW will run from October 16- 24, 2021.