Renewed RSL NSW Fire Brigades Sub-branch.
Australia’s defence force veterans who have served as firefighters are set to receive dedicated support through the re-establishment of a sub-branch by the RSL, marking the first initiative of its kind in four decades. The renewed NSW Fire Brigades sub-branch aims to provide enhanced assistance to over 400 current and former service personnel employed by Fire and Rescue NSW.
Originally established in the 1920s to aid in repatriation and medical support post-World War I, the sub-branch was disbanded in the 1980s due to insufficient membership. The current initiative recognizes the 405 defence force members, including FRNSW Commissioner Jeremy Fewtrell, who have served in both the military and firefighting roles. Commissioner Fewtrell, an Army Reserve veteran, emphasized the significance of the sub-branch’s support, including access to essential wellbeing services.
Acknowledging the evolving needs of younger veterans from recent military deployments, Mr. Fewtrell stressed the importance of tailored support within a familiar environment. The re-establishment of the sub-branch reflects the commitment of RSL, Australia’s oldest veterans’ charity, to grassroots support and fostering community connections, as stated by RSL NSW President Mick Bainbridge.
Expressing his enthusiasm for the revival of camaraderie and support within Fire and Rescue NSW, Mr. Bainbridge emphasized the shared responsibility among veterans transitioning into careers as first responders. Highlighting the ongoing dedication of these veterans who continue to risk their lives in firefighting roles across the state, he underscored the importance of supporting each other through such transitions.
The announcement follows the RSL’s call for the government to establish an independent body focused on veteran health and wellbeing, a response to the royal commission into veteran suicides. The move signals a renewed commitment to addressing the unique challenges faced by veterans and underscores the importance of comprehensive support as they navigate different career paths.