SA Senator David Fawcett has joined with SA Premier Steven Marshall to launch a new sailing program called “Setting a New Course”. This program is designed to assist current and former ADF personnel move beyond injuries sustained during their service.
SA’s ex-service organisation The Road Home has partnered with the Cruising Yacht Club of SA to deliver this program pilot which offers an initial intake of five veterans the opportunity to enhance rehabilitation through the sport of sailing. The pilot course is sponsored by Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Australia and Saab Australia, as well as sailing apparel producer Musto.
The course consists of a two-day Start Yachting component, followed by a three day live in-sail component incorporating sailing in the Gulf St Vincent and several safe harbours around Adelaide. At the completion of the course, participants will receive the qualification of Competent Crew, which will enable to them to not only crew in a yacht but also work as a team to respond to unplanned events and make a safe passage home.
Veterans will have the opportunity to build on this qualification in order to compete in local competitions, sail at the Invictus Games, and potentially race in, or be part of delivery crews after, destination races such as the Sydney to Hobart.
“This is an exceptional opportunity for veterans to challenge themselves, learn a new skill and experience the satisfaction and connection that comes from working as a team – it’s the one thing that many former defence personnel miss when they leave service”, says The Road Home’s Wellbeing Coordinator Mark Reidy.
Course participant Darren Wilcox agrees. “I am hoping through this program to get back to the sociable person I used to be. The course offers a strong, small team experience and I hope that skills I gain will help me to set a new course in both by personal and professional career.”
An experimental test pilot with over 20 years military service, Senator Fawcett says he is familiar with the experience of many veterans who have been impacted by their service. Having been involved in sailing since his teenage years, Senator Fawcett also said he has seen first-hand the benefits of the mindfulness and team work experienced through operating and optimising the performance of a sailing vessel at sea.
“Sailing offers the small-team environment coupled with both the intellectual and physical challenges which will be familiar to veterans, and pairs it with benefits of being outdoors,” Senator Fawcett said. “The intention is to see this program adopted by partnerships between sailing clubs and ex-service organisations in other states of Australia. Based on the success of similar programs in the UK, I am hopeful this initiative will bring positive change for many veterans and their families”.
Premier Marshall officiated at the launch and was excited by the prospect of future growth in the program.
“I can see this initiative becoming a turning point for many veterans in South Australian and beyond,” Premier Marshall said.
The Launch took place at the CYCSA, North Haven.