Aussie veterans and their families Soldier On with Parks Victoria

Monday 5 September, 2022

A new partnership between Parks Victoria and Soldier On is encouraging health and wellbeing in nature for those who have served and continue to serve in the Australian Defence Force, alongside their families.

The Taste of Adventure pilot program emphasises social connections with like-minded others, fostering family memories, and experiencing nature’s diverse places in new recreational ways. 

Catering to all-abilities and individual needs, activities were mindfully tailored and delivered, and included:

  • Snorkelling
  • Kayaking
  • Forest therapy
  • Nature play
  • Sailing, and
  • A guided Park Walk

Parks Victoria was so moved by the heartfelt feedback from participants, we wanted to share some of them with you:

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I brought my eight- and ten-year-old children, and it was something that they will never ever forget. They have never snorkelled in the bay or met seals before. It gave them excitement, joy and especially with our last two years of COVID-19, it gave them freedom and hope... My boys have not stopped talking about how beautiful and magical the day was.  I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity. Unforgettable.”

Current and ex-serving veterans snorkeling at Portsea, Bunurong Country
Current and ex-serving veterans snorkeling at Portsea, Bunurong Country.

 “I loved the day, my family LOVED the day, my two young kids LOVED the day, and are doing a show and tell today with visual aids to tell all the class about it. One of my sons is usually scared of the water, but after his experience, he didn't want to get out of the water. If this snorkelling activity was to happen again, we would all go for sure…Thank you all so very much, it made us closer as a family and something we can look forward to doing again.”

“I had a complete meltdown when we had to jump into the water off the boat…The staff were so awesome supporting me with my fear, and stayed with me. Even climbing in and out of the boat with my bad knees, the support they gave me was awesome…I need to try this again to get my confidence back.”

 Soldier On banner by the boats at Albert Park Lake, Bunurong Country.Adult and child participants sailing together on Albert Park Lake, Bunurong Country.
Ready to set sail on Albert Park Lake, Bunurong Country.

“Sailing was an awesome activity. Loved that it catered for all ages including the younger children. Was nice to be able to get out of the house and do something together as a family without the added stress of organising, booking and the costs involved. This activity is not one we would usually book for our family.”

“I was so impressed with how beautiful the bay was. I honestly had no idea.”

“I met other ex-military members I have not seen for many years. We have now arranged catch ups. Great mental benefit.”

Birds eye view of 26 participants in 13 kayaks on the Yarra River, Wurundjeri Country.

Camaraderie in kayaks, from Fairfield to Yarra Bend Park on the Yarra River, Wurundjeri Country.

“I’d had a stressful week and this activity allowed me to appreciate the beauty of my home city with like-minded people. I felt great during and afterwards kayaking! Will definitely be looking for more activities like this one.”

“Thank you for your support. It means a lot to us who gain a great deal from this program.”

Participants and their families enjoy sailing on Albert Park Lake

With the inaugural Taste of Adventure program successfully completed, we hope to offer more programs in partnership with Soldier On in the future.

About Soldier On

Soldier On is Australia’s only national, fully integrated support services provider for members of the Australian Defence Force and their families. Soldier On helps more than 8,000 individuals to build resilience and create meaningful connections with family, community and employers through health and wellbeing services, employment support, learning and education programs and social connection activities. 

You can learn more about our partner organisation by visiting the Soldier On website.

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