Since opening its doors decades ago, the Nerang RSL and Memorial Club has grown a small membership base into that of over 45,000 members. Each and every member is a significant part of what makes the Nerang RSL the special place it is today and our Club is lucky enough to have many members, like our member of the month, Mr Brad Catts, keen to lend a hand around the Club no matter how big or small the task.
If Brad looks a familiar face, it’s likely because you’ve seen him around the Club with a paint brush in hand, or, you’ve read about him in The Stentorian! Last month, we profiled Brad’s wife, Justine, (newlyweds – congratulations!) as our staff member of the month and she shared a little insight into Brad’s involvement at the Club (and his big kid at heart charisma and love for the Gold Coast’s annual Christmas Light competition!). We thought it was only fitting to profile Brad and we’re honoured to do so in the September edition of The Stentorian.
Brad walked through the doors of the Nerang RSL for the first time over five years ago, and he said it didn’t take much convincing to sign up as a member and call the Nerang RSL his new local Club.
“It was the club Justine and I visited years ago and we immediately loved it. the Nerang RSL was, and still is, a great place to visit and grab a bite to eat so we thought ‘why not’ sign up,” said Brad
“We’ve been members for over five years and Justine and I now work at the Club too. It’s a great environment to be part of whether working or visiting for a drink or bite to eat, and, it’s truly a family Club with a fantastic atmosphere… there’s always something happening.”
Brad runs his business Catts Purrfect Painting and Carpentry and regularly lends his skills and expertise of all things painting and carpentry to the Nerang RSL. He helps to make sure our Club is well maintained and looking its best for the community to enjoy.
“I enjoy my work at the Nerang RSL and it has been good to get to know the staff members in the process,” said Brad.
“I’ve painted the Club a few times and the team often calls me in to fix the walls, build chairs and re-paint anything that needs a fresh coat…I help out with anything that needs a ‘pick me up’ or some maintenance.
“After work, I’ll often grab a quick bite to eat while Justine is working, or when she has time off we have dinner together at the Club which is nice.”
Reaching an exciting milestone and taking a weekend off the tools to celebrate, Brad recently held his 50th birthday… with a twist!
“My friends, family and a few staff members from the Nerang RSL were invited to my 50th birthday celebration, which was actually a surprise wedding,” said Brad.
“Justine and I married underneath our Bali Hut with many of our guests watching on in surprise. It was great to see the looks on their faces because only a few family members knew, so we sprung it on many of our guests!
“It was fantastic to see everyone come together to celebrate our special day and we are all definitely a made a good night of it.”
A new wave of ex-servicemen are joining the ranks of the Nerang RSL Sub Branch as dedicated committee members who are forging a fresh perspective on giving back to the community.
Travis Sinclair, 44, joined the Australian Army in 1995 and was medically discharged in 1999 after a horrific knee injury which led him unable to fulfill his duties.
Upon discharge, Travis worked a variety of jobs including miner and travel agent, and despite reaching out to friends and family for support, still felt a desire to fit in and meet with likeminded individuals who had gone through similar experiences.
That all changed on ANZAC Day in 2014, when Travis struck up a conversation with Nerang RSL Sub Branch committee member Mark Swain.
Travis said the inspiring chat with Mark helped him realise just how important it was to feel a sense of belonging when transitioning to civilian life.
“Mark really put things into perspective for me and explained the fantastic work the Nerang RSL Sub Branch was doing for not only ex-serving members, but also the wider community,” he said.
“I put myself up for election immediately and won a seat on the committee, which I can safely say gave me a renewed sense of duty and responsibility.
“After joining the Nerang RSL Sub Branch I finally had the opportunity to meet a bunch of stand-out lads who could really understand where I was coming from and offered the support and guidance that is so integral to life after service.”
Since commencing his role in 2014, Travis has been heavily involved with all preparations for the club’s annual ANZAC Day commemorations and has guided many young servicemen through transitioning to civilian life.
Travis said having younger members on board the committee would give ex-servicemen of similar age the confidence to reach out for support.
“There is often a stigma associated with RSL clubs that it’s a bunch of old veterans trading war stories over a few beers, which is fine but it’s not the bigger picture,” he said.
“Having younger members on the Sub Branch committee means we can relate to these young men, who often feel they don’t have anyone to talk to or don’t know the first steps in seeking advice.”
“The RSL was designed to be a support network for all ex-serving members, young and old, to come together and form a strong sense of community.”
“It’s great to see that the Nerang RSL has created a closeknit extended family where anyone can come to us for assistance, life advice or just to enjoy a fantastic social atmosphere.”
“It truly doesn’t matter if you served 20 years or 20 months, the fact is we have all been in similar circumstances and as an RSL we are here to embrace members from all walks of life.”
Travis said the best thing about being part of the Nerang RSL Sub Branch is the amount of friends he’s been able to make.
“I’ve forged so many important connections with people I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to meet,” he said.
“Life after service can often be daunting and lonely, so it’s amazing to know that there is such a close network of individuals who can all bond over similar experiences.”
“I’ve been fortunate to re-kindle old friendships from 20 years ago with some of the guys I joined with, and my role has allowed me to do that.”
“I am proud of what I achieved during my years of service and it’s my goal to help other young ex-servicemen transition easier to civilian life and offer support and guidance wherever needed.”
“Young men often feel they aren’t able to share their feelings and it’s crucial for them to know we don’t pass judgement and we are there for them when sometimes others can’t be.”
“We are all cut from a similar cloth (the defence force), so it’s an instant ice breaker to be able to forge these friendships with anyone who is feeling alone.”
“I encourage any ex-serving members who may be feeling a lack of support to come down and have a chat or come along to one of our fantastic events.”
For more information, please contact the Nerang RSL Sub Branch.
If Geoff Stephan looks a familiar face, or the name rings a bell, it’s likely because he’s been proactively involved in the Nerang RSL and Memorial Club community for decades. Geoff has been an active member and President of the Nerang RSL Sub Branch, a Club Committee Member, and Treasurer, and, is the official emcee of the Vietnam Veterans Commemoration Service to be held this month. It’s safe to say Geoff Stephan has and continues to be, a valued member of the Nerang RSL community and we’re honoured to profile our life member in the August edition of The
Before making his mark at the Nerang RSL and Memorial Club, Geoff dedicated over 20 years to military service. Although originally deferring national service and leaving Sydney for Narrabri, where he got a job at the local RSL, it wasn’t long until he found himself back in Sydney and at the front door of the recruitment office for the Australian Army, Navy and Air Force.
“I walked in, signed up and returned home – and wasn’t in my father’s good books seeing as he was in the Navy, and asked why I joined the Army. I told him I could walk and run faster than I could swim,” said Geoff.
“I went overseas as an infantry soldier and after eight months in Vietnam I returned home, became a technician and worked my way up to Sergeant in the workshop. I had been talking to a Regiment Sergeant Major (RSM) who suggested I tried going Regimental. I became a Class Two and Squadron Sergeant Major and then a Warrant Office Class One, which is a Regimental Sergeant Major and began to teach others who were going to be Warrant Officers.”
“After 21 years of service, I decided it was time for me to finish up. I bought a house in Nerang and having been a returned serviceman I knew about the local Nerang RSL and decided to join. I was only there for a little while before my wife, Yvonne, bought a shop in Mermaid Beach, so I joined another Club on the Gold Coast.
“At the time I was working for the Vietnam Veterans Federation and we moved over to Nerang, so I was happy to return back to my local, the Nerang RSL. I started to get involved in things like selling meat tray raffles, which was a great opportunity to get to know many of the members and staff.”
“I started going along to the Sub Branch meetings at the Nerang RSL and given that I was already qualified in handling pensions and pension inquiries, decided to help out and get involved at the Sub Branch wherever I could.”
From selling meat trays at the Club and attending Sub Branch meetings, it wasn’t long until Geoff stepped up as President of the Sub Branch, a role he upheld from 2006 to 2015.
“I got on the Committee as Deputy President of the Sub Branch and became President of the Sub Branch in 2006, as well as joining the Committee of the Memorial Club. I was, and am still, very passionate about the Nerang RSL and Memorial Club so it’s a nice feeling knowing I’ve contributed to making the Club what it is today,” said Geoff.
“We had our share of hurdles along the way when it came to the initial expansion of the Nerang RSL. There was a bit of controversy between the Club and the Sub Branch surrounding whether to expand and although I was part of the Sub Branch, in my eyes, we could either stay in the small clubhouse, or expand and evolve, and provide a fantastic Club for the community. After much discussions and a vote, we went on with the extensions and had numerous meetings to discuss and decide what would be best for both the Club and the Sub Branch.
“I’ve really enjoyed all of my roles at the Nerang RSL and Memorial Club and am humbled I’ve been able to contribute to shaping special aspects around the club including Cenotaph. the Sub Branch at the time decided to put up a new wall because the original one was starting to fall apart and wasn’t big enough for all of the remembrance plaques. I came up with a design and the new wall went up, and, it’s great to see it standing there today with additional modifications over time by Nerang RSL’s Sub Branch.”
Geoff is now a lifetime member of the Nerang RSL and the official emcee of the Vietnam Veterans Commemoration Service which will be held at the RSL on Vietnam Veterans Day to commemorate the service of all men and women who served in Vietnam.
“When I was asked to be the emcee of the Vietnam Veterans Commemoration Service for the first time in 2018, I was very emotional and loved the idea,” said Geoff.
“I received a lot of positive feedback last year which is very humbling and I’m now going to be emceeing the Commemorative Service for years to come, until I can’t do it anymore. It’s something I really look forward to because it’s a special and important day for the community to come together to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
Geoff said he’s pleased with the opportunity to continue to play a part at the Nerang RSL, and, said he can’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Club for a bit of banter and a bevvy (and to see his grandchildren who also work at the Nerang RSL!).
“It’s great to have seen the Nerang RSL evolve into the community-centric and supportive environment and the facility it is today”, said Geoff.
“The members make it a special place and the staff are very welcoming and are great to have a laugh with. I love to come along to the Nerang RSL on a Friday, hang out in the #4211SportzBar with my mates, share a few bevies and have a good chat. My grandchildren also work at the Club too, which is quite special!”
If there’s one man who knows the ins and outs of Nerang RSL and Memorial Club, it’s our inaugural member, first-ever Club President, and the Club Patron, Mr. Rodney Dux (now O.A.M!). A passion for the community and a long military career inspired Rod to first join the Nerang RSL Sub Branch more than 30 years ago.
He is now a Wikipedia on most things Nerang RSL. Rod has seen the club evolve from the vacant block of land that he was instrumental in acquiring for the first RSL clubhouse, to the bustling RSL complex it is today. A close working association with the previous Albert Shire Council was instrumental in achieving some of the early goals.
But if there’s one thing that hasn’t changed over the years, it’s Rod’s passion for the community and since we last spoke to him, he’s received a prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia (O.A.M). We’re delighted to profile our Member #1 as he takes us back down memory lane at Nerang RSL and shares what makes him tick in the July edition of the Stentorian.
Rod played an integral role in establishing Nerang RSL and Memorial Club and since, has been heavily involved in a variety of community initiatives including groups such as the Albert Australia Day Foundation whose annual event was directly supported by both the Sub Branch and the Club, the Gold Coast Australia Day Foundation, the Heritage Voice museum support initiative and the Albert Battery. In addition he is a three-time published author of well-researched works on previously unpublished aspects of the Australian Commonwealth Military Forces before and during the First World War.
As part of Queen Elizabeth 2’s Official Birthday Celebrations this year Rod was listed among the recipients of the Order of Australia Medal (O.A.M.) that was awarded for his long term contribution to the community of the Gold Coast.
“I’m very honoured to be a recipient of the prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia for my involvement across the community, it’s very much a privilege,” said Rod.
“My family and friends were naturally very proud as well and it’s quite a pleasant and unexpected experience when the effort you’ve put in over the years is recognised by such an award.”
“Having said that, without the long term support of family and friends and a peer group network, it wouldn’t be possible… it’s always a team effort and I’ve just helped to lead the way.”
One of the places he’s done exactly that is the Nerang RSL, where he played a major role in the establishment and success of the Club and lead the team to put hammer to nail in the 80’s to build what is now a beating heart within our local community.
“I became involved with the Nerang RSL and Memorial Club when I first joined as a member and soon after President of the Sub Branch over 30 years ago…back when we held our meetings in the local community hall before we had a space to call our own!” said Rod.
“We had a block of land located in what is now the industrial area of Nerang that was later deemed unsuitable for a club site. Most importantly our available funds were meagre to say the least. The decision was taken to sell the land to obtain funds and to secure a suitable block of land, preferably public land with low annual rental. After much discussion with Council and the builders/owners of the unit complex next door, a deal was struck and the existing club land portion changed ownership to the Sub Branch at no financial outlay. With a block of land and funds intact we engaged an architect.
“Among the many aspects requiring volunteer attention was the need to actually form the nucleus of a club membership of sufficient numbers to assist with licensing and other requirements. Existing Sub Branch numbers were not sufficient therefore it was quite a challenge to identify and sign up ex-service and other members for the yet to be built club. Unfortunately nothing ever runs to plan. The building budget required stretching to accommodate an unexpected contractor’s miscalculation of the number of bricks needed among other things. the council requirement back then was to build “hi-set” thereby producing an amount of useless but expensive space on the lower level. Fortunately, times have changed.
“Apart from the basic building, a number of volunteers put in the hard yards to achieve our vision of building a place of support and enjoyment for returned servicemen and women and the wider community. there were other hurdles in the process, one being Gaming Laws. Poker machines were not yet legal in Queensland therefore all revenues necessary to operate and service the debt came from food and beverage. It was quite a regular occurrence for bus loads of punters from Brisbane and the Coast to head forthe clubs in the Northern Rivers. it made a major difference when the machines were introduced in Queensland because it brought members back to local clubs like Nerang RSL and gave us the opportunity to raise extra revenue to help with the processes involved with building a functioning club that also supports the local community.”
Since turning the SOD more than two decades ago, Rod says it’s very pleasing to see the Nerang RSL and Memorial Club absolutely thriving today.
“It’s fantastic to see the Club where it is today and full marks to the team who took over and who have built the business to what it is now,” said Rod.
“Since day one Nerang RSL has always had a passionate team behind it and its continued success I believe reflects continuity, a great committee, a fantastic CEO and an amazing team of staff.”
He’s no longer an active committee member at Nerang RSL, but Rod’s kept busy fulfilling his President-like duties through his roles as President of the Gold Coast Australia Day Foundation, Chairman of Heritage Voice and President of the Albert Battery among a number of other pursuits calling on any spare time.
As to what sees Rod continue to lend a hand within his local community, he had the following to say. “No matter how big or small the task, someone has to do it and there are so many fantastic volunteers across Australia that are involved in providing a helping hand where they can,” said Rod.
“I continue to be genuinely interested in what I do, exploring new and related challenges and the satisfaction of knowing I’ve been able to play a part in my local community and contribute to shaping successful groups such as the Nerang RSL.”
Making the move to the Gold Coast from NSW in 2016, one of the first things Melinda Brown wanted to do was find a local netball club for her daughter. It was the warm welcome and community feel expressed by the Nerang RSL Netball Club that left Melinda feeling part of a new ‘netball family’ and wanting to sign up instantly!
Three years on, not only has the club become their local netball home but Melinda has been appointed as Secretary of the Nerang RSL Netball Club, and we’re honoured to feature her as our member of the month for June 2019.
Melinda has grown up surrounded by all-things netball. She’s played, coached and umpired the sport for over 25 years and is ecstatic to have found a club like Nerang RSL which provides opportunities for the local community to get involved in sport teams. Melinda said she’s humbled that herself and daughter, also a lover of netball, are able to be part of a netball club which operates on the pillars of the community, family and fun.
“Nerang RSL Netball Club was very welcoming when my daughter and I first stepped through the doors three years ago. New to the area at the time, it was a nice feeling to walk into a club and immediately feel a sense of warmth, support and excitement of all-things netball.” said Melinda.
“It’s all about getting social at Nerang RSL Netball Club. If we get a win, it’s a bonus but we’re more focused on making sure our teams get on the court and have some fun, and, we’re always looking for ways to get families involved as a whole. After training on a Wednesday, the Netball Club puts on a free sausage sizzle which is a great opportunity for all to enjoy, and players and their families will often stay after their games to watch other games and support players.”
It wasn’t long until Melinda put her hand up to get involved in volunteer coaching, and now she’s topping that off as Secretary of the club. in addition to her time on the court, she’s now responsible for reporting to the Sports Council of the RSL, liaising with netball associations, assisting in grading and coordination of teams and assisting with executive needs.
In her new role as Secretary, Melinda said she is looking forward to helping Nerang RSL Netball Club, which has over 100 players and nine junior teams and seven senior teams, grow and strengthen its position within the local community.
“I’m really looking forward to helping grow the Nerang RSL Netball Club, prepare the next generation of coaches and help the club to secure funding for upgrades to training facilities. We are still a small club and rely heavily on donations, so it
would be fantastic to get more players and volunteer coaches on board next season and ultimately expand the club and see it become self-sufficient.
“We’re climbing the ranks to become a competitive club and we’re moving in the right direction. Last year, two teams entered the grand final as part of the Southport Carrara Netball Association’s Winter Competition and one of the teams walked away with a fantastic win! Nerang RSL Netball Club has also secured representative funding for four of our girls to play with the Southport Carrara Netball Association
in the upcoming Queensland State Age Championships which is a great achievement for the girls and Nerang RSL Netball Club is very proud.”
And for those looking to get involved in the local community, Melinda said Nerang RSL is a perfect place to do just that. “Nerang RSL is a great community to be part of and the Netball Club will often hold raffles at the club and encourage the community to visit the RSL to get involved in the raffles, to have a bite to eat and simply get to know others within the community”, said Melinda.
“The Netball Club is always welcoming new players, coaches and volunteers and whichever the role, its simply a great opportunity to have some fun and make new friends along the way.”
If Jeff is a familiar face, it’s likely because you’ve seen him concreting the pathways to the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Garden, out on a fishing charter with the Nerang RSL fishing club, taking a swing on the golfing green or hanging out in our #4211SportzBar with his mates and a bevvy (usually a beer or a nice red) in hand. For over 20 years, Jeff Robinson has been a valued member of Nerang RSL and Memorial Club and we’re delighted to profile him as our member of the month.
Jeff first stepped foot into the Nerang RSL when it was a small club with just a couple of hundred members. Regularly returning for a drink with his mates, a bite to eat and a play on the pokies, he decided to sign up as a member in 1998 and has since become involved in numerous activities across the club. He’s currently President of the Fishing Club and as a concreter by trade, he is our first port of call for all-things concreting! “It’s great to be part of such a tight-knit community at Nerang RSL and it has been special to see the club evolve over the years and become such a beating pulse of the local community, said Jeff.
“Nerang RSL has always been ‘my local’ and when I first stepped through the doors nearly 20 years ago, I immediately felt a genuine sense of welcome. It’s nice to be part of a club that gives so much to the community and in turn, I like to put my hand up to get involved and do what I can to give back.
“I’ve helped out around the RSL through my concreting business, Above All Concreting, and have concreted the pathways through the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Garden as well as helping with a few other jobs around the club. It’s a nice feeling to help out where I can and see the job get done.”
When he’s not on the tools, Jeff is organising fishing charters, club meetings, and raffles as part of his role as President of the Nerang RSL Fishing Club alongside getting involved in all-things sport related at the RSL.
“I really enjoy my role as President of the Nerang RSL Fishing Club and encourage anyone who might be interested to join the club to do so as it’s a great opportunity to get social and meet fellow members and locals all while enjoying everything the Fishing Club has to offer,” said Jeff.
“We hold monthly meetings, fishing competitions, and raffles and this year, plan to have around six or seven fishing charters where we hire a charter boat on the Coast and enjoy a day out on the water before returning to the club for a couple of drinks and a feed.
“I’ve also been a member of the Nerang RSL Social Golf Club for as long as I can remember and enjoy having a punt as part of the RSL’s AFL tipping competition. There are so many opportunities to get involved at Nerang RSL and it’s always great to finish the day with a visit to the #4211SportzBar where the facilities are absolutely fantastic, and the atmosphere is even better.
“It truly is all about the community at the Nerang RSL and the club is full of fantastic staff that know your name and are happy to have a chat, and it’s a great place to make a few mates, enjoy a drink and a meal. Nerang RSL is like no other and is a fantastic all-rounder within our community.”
To find out more information or to join the Nerang RSL Fishing Club, please contact Jeff directly or visit the front desk at Nerang RSL. Anyone is welcome to join!
Police Officer Scott Muldoon is a passionate member of the local community and since 1992 has been a fixture of the Nerang PCYC (Police Citizens Youth Club), whereas Branch Manager proactively enriches the lives of troubled youths through the Deep Blue Line mentoring program.
The Nerang RSL has been a committed partner of the PCYC, donating funds and holding events in support of the outstanding community work Scott and his team undertake each year.
Scott, who has been a member of the Nerang RSL since 2013, said without the continued support of the Nerang RSL, the program wouldn’t be what it is today.
“It is with the ongoing support, fundraising and provision of vital resources we are able to continue the program successfully year after year” he said.
“The club’s annual Sports Lunch sees funds going to integral community organisations. We’ve had donations of up to $6000 for our PCYC boxing classes, which drew a huge turnout and gave youths a chance to channel their emotions into a sport that focuses on personal growth and development.
“Support from the Nerang RSL and other important local organisations means we can continue to provide the best programs for our troubled youths, ultimately making a larger impact on the wider community.
‘The program is aimed at young men and boys who may not have the best male role models in their lives and our job is to enhance their positive sense of self, boost self-esteem and provide a variety of positive life experiences.
“Through a diverse range of fun, team-oriented activities, we encourage goal setting behaviours and self-control awarding youths a variety of life-based skills that we hope will change their wellbeing and life path for the better.
“We were incredibly grateful to hold a special cooking class at the Nerang RSL – where the group cooked their own chicken schnitzel from scratch in the kitchen and learnt some fantastic hands-on skills they can use throughout daily life.”
“We also have mentors come in to talk about their own life experiences and struggles that we hope may shed some light on what these young males are going through, including special talks with Titans players and other local personalities.”
Scott loves the occasional beer at the Nerang RSL and said the club is warm, welcoming and a central meeting place for the community.
“The Nerang RSL is a fantastic part of what makes the local area so great, a beautiful club where people can come together and socialise in a safe and positive environment,” he said.
“I love attending important community functions at the club and it’s great to see Management proactively make a difference in the community by holding charity evenings, fundraisers and exciting events that everyone can enjoy, while significantly benefiting the local Nerang area in the process.”
It was the warm weather, sunny skies and opportunity for a better lifestyle that encouraged Nerang RSL and Memorial Club member, Matt Ford, to make the move from the United Kingdom to the ‘land down under,’ six years ago. Calling the Coast his new home, Matt has become a regular face of Nerang RSL, and our resident car mechanic and we’re delighted to profile him in this month’s edition of The Stentorian.
Matt first stepped through the doors of Nerang RSL four years ago, when he was introduced to the club through his partner, Amy, and her family. Since then Matt has become involved in many aspects across our club.
“I was thrilled to have been introduced to a place like Nerang RSL, it’s a fantastic club with great members and friendly staff who are always up for a chat,” said Matt.
“I really enjoy being part of the Nerang RSL community and lending a hand wherever I can. Amy’s parents, Lyn and Guy, own Gala Promotions which does some promotional work
at the club, so that’s how I came across it and ever since, I’ve been able to get involved in hosting raffles and gaming promotions during the week and I’ve really come to know fellow members and staff along the way.”
When he’s not hosting raffles and promotions around the club, or getting out in the sunshine to coach kids’ soccer, Matt is working his magic on cars across the Coast – through his locally run mobile mechanic business, Quik Serve Mobile Mechanic.
“I started my business about two years ago and many of the staff members at the club found out and have been very supportive and keen to use my services, which is a great feeling,” said Matt.
“My customer base spans across the Coast but more often than not, you’ll find me parked in the Club’s car park!”
When asked what he most looks forward to after a hard days work, Matt says a visit to the RSL is always welcomed.
“The members and staff members are what truly make the club such a special place. Since day one, I’ve felt very welcomed and there’s always something happening at
the club whether it’s live music, games and promotions, or entertainment which makes for a fantastic atmosphere,” he said.
“Not to mention the club’s pizzas and chicken wings… I really enjoy those too,” he laughed.
For more information on Quik Serve Mobile Mechanic click www.facebook.com/QuikServes/
Keeping fit, healthy and getting involved in sporting events across the community is one way Nerang RSL and Memorial Club Sub Branch member, Sean De Gelder, now likes to spend his days. Often waking up at the crack of dawn to tackle his fitness goals, Sean has become involved in numerous triathlons, bike rides, and swimming carnivals and we’re delighted to profile the ex-serviceman, who is using his experiences to positively influence and encourage fellow veterans, in this edition of The Stentorian.
A veteran of International Force East Timor (INTERFET) and serving in 1999, 2006 and 2010, Sean was part of the multinational force which was formed to address the declining security and humanitarian state in East Timor. Following his time in the Defence Force, Sean began to experience the challenging effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was introduced to the Veteran Health Association (VHA) which he says assisted him greatly, and introduced him to the Sub Branch at Nerang RSL.
“I’m very thankful for the support I’ve received from the VHA and the gents at the Sub Branch and from the RSL itself, it has definitely made an impact on my life for the better,” said Sean.
“I know how exercise can assist with emotional health and I wanted to get into fitness so after speaking with the Sub Branch, they went out of their way to help me achieve that. I was keen to get involved in events like triathlons and before I knew it, the Sub Branch guys were going into sporting stores and speaking with other triathletes to put me in touch with the right people.
“It was really encouraging and it’s a nice feeling to know there are places in the community like Nerang RSL and the Sub Branch that want to help and provide support.”
On the back of a sponsorship from the Nerang RSL, Sean kicked off 2019 competing in the Queensland Triathlon Series. He pushed through a grueling 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride and a 10km run to claim a very commended 6th place!
“Sporting events can be quite expensive to compete in so I’m extremely thankful to the Nerang RSL for sponsoring my involvement in the Queensland Triathlon Series. I was able to purchase a bike and a custom made competition suit with the Club’s logo on it – that I wore with great pride,” said Sean.
“I did quite a bit of swimming and bike riding to prepare for the event and I’m generally happy with placing 6th in the Olympic distance category. Being my first Olympic distance triathlon, I was honestly just happy I was able to finish the event,” he laughed.
As part of his involvement in the Queensland Triathlon Series, Sean also represented PTSD Resurrected which runs a Reboot Combat Recovery course providing help for service members, first responders and their families.
Since graduating from the course alongside his wife, Leanne, Sean has become a mentor for Reboot and says the course has helped him manage the effects of PTSD and anxiety.
“The Reboot course, in addition to my own spiritual healing and church community, has helped me very much in the challenges I’ve faced with PTSD and anxiety,” said Sean.
“I completed the Reboot course at the start of 2018 and it was an experience that helped both Leanne and myself understand PTSD and anxiety, and ultimately what we were going through.
“I’m looking forward to being a mentor. I believe veterans that have experienced, or currently experience PTSD are often some of the best at helping others because they have a personal understanding and can share their experiences.”
Since becoming involved and receiving support from organisations and groups across the local community, Sean has referred a number of fellow veterans to these groups and says through also focusing on activities he enjoys, such as triathlons, he hopes to encourage others to step into something they enjoy.
“For me, competing in events like triathlons gives me something to focus on and look forward to. I enjoy putting my energy into setting fitness goals and training to achieve them, and it helps me maintain a healthy diet along the way too,” said Sean.
“I hope to compete in a few more triathlons this year, but I’m currently preparing for a swimming carnival in February and another in March as part of the Australian Imperial Forces. The carnival will be held in Melbourne and was originally formed for wounded veterans that returned from WW1 to help with their rehabilitation. All RSLs across Australia can get involved and it’s a great day and a fantastic opportunity to meet fellow veterans.
“I’ve found something I really enjoy doing and hope to encourage fellow veterans to do the same, whether it’s a new activity you might be interested in or a hobby you did previously that you enjoyed.
“Places like the Sub Branch at Nerang RSL are great environments to meet other veterans that you might share a similar interest with, or you could meet someone who can connect you with a contact. It’s great to have the support of Nerang RSL and the gents at the Sub Branch because it shows that there are people out there who care and it’s great to have that base support…Nerang RSL and Memorial Club is like no other.”
From a medic in the Navy and an avid rugby player, this month’s member in the spotlight knows a thing or two about working as a team, and the mateship that goes with it. That’s one of the reasons he first joined the Nerang RSL and we’re now delighted to share his story – meet, Mr. Bob Graham!
Since joining the Nerang RSL in 2011, Bob has become a familiar face to many – thanks to his involvement across the club in selling raffles for the Vietnam Veterans of Australia Association, maintaining the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Garden and simply, pulling up a pew in the #4211SportzBar.
Although a fan of the club’s hot chicken wings coupled with the perfect red, Bob says he was first drawn to the Nerang RSL for its sense of comradery and mateship in the community.
“I joined the Navy in 1968 as a medic onboard HMAS Moresby, which circumnavigated Australia doing survey work before traveling to Singapore and Jakarta,” he said.
“There was a very special bond formed with fellow military servicemen and servicewomen and it’s nice to be able to visit communities like Nerang RSL and Memorial Club to replicate that feeling.
“As part of my time in the Navy, I was also a member of the Navy Colts Under 21’s rugby team, which was great fun. If I had duty on the weekends on the base and had to play rugby that day, I would be assigned to the team coach as my duty, which meant I got to play rugby.
“The mateship I experienced – whether it was onboard or on the footy field, is something I’ll never forget and it’s that same sense of spirit I feel, whenever I walk into the Nerang RSL.”
Bob also dedicated twenty-five years to the Department of Civil Aviation where he was a flight service officer and air traffic controller in various locations across Australia, before finishing his working life on the Gold Coast as a Surfside Bus Driver.
And since joining the Nerang RSL, Bob has become involved in regular volunteer work at the club and you’ll often find him selling meat raffle tickets or maintaining the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Garden.
“I was truly honoured to have been nominated as caretaker of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Garden,” he said.
“I believe it’s a sign of respect to those who passed or didn’t return from service, to ensure the memorial gardens are well maintained. It’s a place of reflection and remembrance, so I take pride in keeping the gardens in shape, whether it be watering them or completing general maintenance as required.
“When I’m not caretaking, I sell meat raffles as part of the Vietnam Veterans of Australia Association to support different functions and community groups.
“I do this alongside three of my mates who are also ex-servicemen and we really enjoy the opportunity to get involved. There’s a lot of banter and comradery between us too! The Nerang RSL is certainly a special place and I simply couldn’t pick a better community to be part of.”
‘A man of many talents’ – that’s how most people describe Nerang RSL’s member of the month, Ben Samin.
Whether you’ve seen him performing with the globally renowned band Madison Kat, coaching champion martial artists, or working behind the scenes at one of Nerang RSL’s reputable services – Ben’s ‘community spirit’ is one of his most notable traits.
With a background in architectural and engineer model making, Ben joined Nerang RSL more than a decade ago and after taking on several different roles across the Club, is now a regarded board member.
Ben first joined the Nerang RSL after a stint with his popular band Madison Kat – first known as the ‘Gold Coasters’ – when he travelled with the American Army to Vietnam to provide some respite for soldiers.
“The 1970s were a standout year for our family-run show band. My brothers and I were able to travel to Vietnam to perform and provide a bit of Christmas fun and respite to the soldiers, at a time when they needed it most,” he said.
“We spent three months in Vietnam and it was a great feeling to see the effect music, and some extra support, could have on the soldiers and I still to this day remember the smiles on their faces. It’s an experience that I’ll never forget and that feeling of providing mateship and support is mirrored at the Nerang RSL and it’s one of the reasons I was keen to get involved in the Club.”
Fifty years on and Madison Kat now performs as a third-generation band. Ben’s sons and nephew have all embraced the band and continue to rock it out weekly.
However music isn’t the only thing Ben holds close to his heart, but also Martial Arts. He’s a local coach at Nerang PCYC and the Australasian Martial Art Studies (AMAS) Principal. Ben was also chosen by late Master of Bu Di Zhen Kung Fu to re-write family history and guide future directions of Bu Di Zhen Kung Fu.
“I really enjoy teaching martial arts and guiding my students to set and reach goals in the sport,” he said.
“I’ve taught 24 Australian Champions and recently returned from Japan where one of my students came second in the Open Championship’s. Nothing beats that feeling of seeing students compete and have ‘that moment’ when they realise their hard work is paying off – whether in training or on the world stage – it’s a large part of why I do what I do.
“We often sell raffle tickets at Nerang RSL to raise money for our students to compete in tournaments and competitions across the globe, so it’s great to also have the support of the community.”
Ben says he’s very humbled to be part of the Nerang RSL community and since joining the RSL Board over six years ago, continues to enjoy the opportunities it brings.
“I’ve really enjoyed being able to work alongside the team on the RSL Board and get involved in our local community,” said Ben.
“It’s very busy and there’s always something to do, whether helping to organise one of our many services like Remembrance and ANZAC Day or attending meetings and helping out with community projects, but I wouldn’t change it.
“It’s a nice feeling to know I’m doing my part to help out across the community and I’ve met so many great people in the process.”