07 September 2023

Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (16:35): I'd like to honour the founder of Wounded Heroes Australia, the late Jim Shapcott, who passed away on 20 August. My thoughts are with his wife of 63 years, Elise, and his children and grandchildren.

Jim was deeply committed to Australian military personnel and veterans and the challenges faced by our defence families. He was commissioned as an Army officer in 1966 and retired in 1973 with the rank of captain. Jim would have a wry smile and a chuckle to think that a federal Labor MP was paying tribute to him in parliament. In his younger years, Jim was friend of neither the Labor Party nor the Liberal Party. He helped Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen to launch her famous pumpkin scones, and helped with running two of her Senate campaigns. In 1975, he ran for the Country Party against Bill Hayden in Oxley. In 1970, he ran against Clem Jones and Don Cameron in Fadden. Jim even helped Lady Flo in the launch of her successful Senate campaigns and was a life-long supporter of conservative causes.

Jim founded Wounded Heroes in 2007. He was approached by his former Army unit to provide a place where the families of deployed soldiers could meet and support each other. Jim helped to raise over $80,000, and a community centre was built at Enoggera. Just this May, Jim was on hand to open the brand new national headquarters for Wounded Heroes Australia at Bundamba in my electorate of Blair. The site also houses a veterans centre. At that event, Jim spoke to those assembled, as did Uncle Les Beckett, vice-president Julie Hall and president Martin Shaw. They were joined by one of the patrons of Wounded Heroes, ADF Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Greg Bilton AO CSC. Among Wounded Heroes patrons is the Speaker of the House.

As Wounded Heroes President Martin Shaw said in May:

Thanks to Jim's passion, Wounded Heroes Australia has grown to become the leading provider or 24/7 crisis support to prevent veteran suicide across Australia. As Jim always said, our veterans have sacrificed so much. It's our mission to help them. Wounded heroes Australia is proud to continue Jim's legacy.

I'm proud to have known Jim Shapcott, and I discussed politics with him on many occasions—a very fine and decent man.

Wounded Heroes Australia is now a national community organisation that supports Australian military personnel and their families. For 16 years, it's provided that kind of support. It's provided support for those deployed and wounded personnel and their families. In most cases, this is done through short-term emergency relief to personnel and their families.

I have mentioned Martin Shaw and Julie Hall, but I especially want to mention the important work done by Sue Luxford, who was the driving force behind many Wounded Heroes' community activities. One is the Horses 4 Heroes equine healing program at Wacol, which helps current and former military personal. Equine healing has an important role to play for people experiencing mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. Horses 4 Heroes participants work through a range of practical interactions with horses. Participants connect very well.

The majority of the financial assistance provided by Wounded Heroes is for those suffering panic attacks, PTSD and major depression. The work they do is extraordinary. They are supported by many local organisations, but they are in urgent need of funding as well. The rehabilitation programs they provide are really critical. The op shop is very, very important as well. The recovery process and the impacts on families are severe when people are suffering from anxiety, PTSD and mental health issues. That emergency funding and other assistance makes life easier and helps a family of a wounded veteran cope with the demanding set of new circumstances. Counselling for children, short-term financial aid, respite for a spouse and domestic assistance are some way that the families' challenges can be eased, and Wounded Heroes is on hand. Emergency, crisis and frontline services are what Wounded Heroes is all about. It is to Wounded Heroes that many other organisations, like RSL, turn.

I call on the Albanese Labor government, which is currently considering delivering $20 million in a targeted funding program to improve veterans' and families' services, support and coordination, to support Wounded Heroes in my electorate and nationally. It's a terrific community organisation. Jim Shapcott's memory is honoured by its ongoing service to military families and veterans, and the 10,000 people who live in Ipswich and surrounds really value Wounded Heroes. I thank them for the great community service and for the love, affection and community support they provide for veterans and families in my electorate as well.