August 24, 2020
Construction will begin within weeks on a welfare drop-in centre at Murgon for former defence force personnel.
The centre – which has been a long-time dream of the Murgon RSL Sub-Branch – will be built on a 1700sq m block of land in Stephens Street West, between the Murgon Courthouse and the South Burnett Regional Council offices.
The land is the site of a former Women’s Health Centre.
Then-Murgon RSL Sub-Branch president – now Wide Bay-Burnett District President – Trevor Williamson OAM approached Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien for help to raise the $450,000 necessary.
The local MP made a commitment prior to the last Federal Election which was realised after the poll with a Federal Government Community Development Grant.
Mr O’Brien joined current Sub-Branch president John Drew and Mr Williamson on Saturday morning to officially turn the first sods for the project.
“The new building will provide a place for the RSL to provide welfare and advocacy services for veterans and their families, as well as providing conference facilities, a kitchen and barbecue area, plus memorabilia and historical displays,” Mr O’Brien said.
“The world has changed significantly since this centre was first announced but it’s now more important than ever to help revitalise Murgon and the South Burnett’s economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Wakka Wakka Elder – and Murgon RSL Sub-Branch director – Eric Law AM did the Welcome To Country, saying he believed his ancestors would be very proud and happy that such a facility was going to be built on their ground.
Mr Drew said Murgon veterans would soon have greater access to welfare and pension assistance as well as a place to come where people understand what they were going through.
Mr O’Brien said it was a very special day but also a very serious day because the new centre was going to deal with serious issues, taking care of the welfare of veterans and former service personnel.
He said politicians often turned up at events such as Anzac Day but “the best way to thank veterans and former service personnel is to fund the services that look after them”.
“It saddens me to say that I don’t think they are funded properly, and that is a criticism of my own side,” he said.
“The best way to thank you for your service is to ensure that you are looked after.”
The Sub-Branch has stipulated that local contractors are used in the project so the money is spent in the community.
Builder Tim McIntosh said he expected to begin work on the project within a few weeks and expected to have it completed by February, weather permitting.
Footnote: Mr O’Brien was wearing motorcycle leathers as he dropped into Murgon on his way to riding to Canberra for this week’s sitting of Federal Parliament. Because of border restrictions, he will have to fly back and then go into quarantine for 14 days after the sitting finishes.