Couple's 'life-saving' rural sanctuary giving vets a new lease on life
A couple whose property serves as a sanctuary for veterans in need have said a funding knock-back could leave them struggling to help those returned from Australia's wars.
Greg and Anne Carter's property Cockatoo Rise is a place any returned veteran can come to.
Greg himself returned from the Vietnam war with post-traumatic stress disorder, and he still suffers the symptoms.
"Look, it changes everybody, whether you're on the front line or not," he said.
"Everybody that's deployed and goes into an area where other people are fighting and trying to kill you, it changes your life."
Vietnam war veteran John Cottom told A Current Affair the property was like an "oasis".
"You feel relaxed here, you're amongst other veterans," he said.
John was part of a rifle company in Vietnam and at times served as a forward scout.
He has been coming to Cockatoo Rise for five years now, and he said his life was much improved.
"It's also good for the wives who also feel relaxed," he said.
"And they played a very big part in our return home and settling in, putting up with us - mood changes and depression."
The Carters say some veterans came to them homeless, and have stayed for up to nine months.
Afghan war veteran Miles Nicholls served a specialist role overseas and was severely injured.
He said he would have been homeless if not for Cockatoo Rise.
"These places save lives," he said.
"They're vitally important. I think without places like this, most veterans would be homeless - literally homeless, in their cars, or in humpty's out in the bush."
He said Cockatoo Rise had provided a base that allowed him to do what he needed to do to move forward with his life.
"A lot of these people heal themselves," Greg said.
"We're not healing them, but the environment is."
But the Carters claim they are facing a dilemma after requesting funding from the RSL's Anzac House to continue helping veterans.
"They've given us a set of rules, and I think when people hear this they'll be staggered," Greg said.
"If we want any funding, or consideration for funding, what we've got to do is put in a detailed budgetary report, so for each veteran who comes here, we've got to put in a detailed budgetary report. Now, can you imagine that?"
East Gippsland MP Tim Bull said the Carters ran an "absolutely fantastic" facility and that he would be happy to mediate a truce.
"Obviously, being a privately-owned facility, it's a contentious issue," he said.
"I think Anzac House do an enormous amount of good work in our communities. Obviously, you know, when they're dealing with different situations in different scenarios, they can be quite complicated, there would be some challenges there."
In a statement, RSL Victoria said it recognised the good work Cockatoo Rise does for veterans, and that it would consider applications from individuals for funding to transport veterans and their dependants to and from the property.
"However, it is our understanding that the Retreat is not a registered charity and is located on private property belonging to the Retreat owners," the statement read.
"The State Executive of RSL Victoria has the view that allocating Patriotic Funds to the improvement of privately-owned facilities at the Retreat would be inconsistent with the objects and purposes set out in the Veterans Act 2005, and the relevant Patriotic Fund Deeds of Trust."
Visit the Cockatoo Rise website here.
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