Cash presented for veterans’ support

December 11, 2023 BY

Service support: Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia Ballarat Sub-Branch president Sandy McCaff, and vice-president Rick Williams (far right) received a donation from Lillingston Charitable trustees Joanne Thomson and Morgan Murphy on Sunday. Photo: TIM BOTTAMS

MEMBERS of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia Ballarat Sub-Branch gave a collective gasp with the announcement of a sizeable donation during their annual Christmas dinner.

The news came on Sunday afternoon at the Golf House Hotel where representatives of the Lillingston Charitable Trust presented the group of about 70 people with $150,000.

Sub-Branch secretary Gordon Hunt said the cash will service veterans and their families in Ballarat.

“There’s about 5000 veterans in Ballarat according to the Department of Veterans Affairs,” he said.

“The funds will go into a welfare account and used for veterans specifically to make them comfortable. We’re at that age now where everyone’s getting quite old.

“The donation means a lot to us but we’re finite. We’re going to run out of Vietnam veterans one day so we’ll have to figure where the money will go at some point, but it’ll be another returned service organisation.”

VVAA was established in the late 1970s with the aim of delivering welfare, advocacy, and support services for servicepeople and families involved in the titular war.

The Ballarat Sub-Branch currently has 82 active members and more than 100 people registered.

The trust supports causes in the name of Irene and Les Lillingston, with the former being one of the ‘Lucas girls’ who helped establish the Arch of Victory and Avenue of Honour, and the latter having served in World War Two.

Morgan Murphy was one of two Lillingston Charitable trustees who presented the funds and said VVAA was an ideal recipient for the money given the founder’s history.

“In the spirit of the way they lived, we believe the association is very deserving,” he said.

“Les was a Rat of Tobruk and Irene worked at the Lucas factory. Irene would have had an appreciation of having to manage someone who’d come back from conflict.

“Their lives were dedicated to community and once Les died, Irene particularly spent a lot of time endeavouring to support the commemoration of people who were involved in conflict.”