10 years of Mates

30 March 2023

Take a trip down memory lane as Mates4Mates celebrates 10 years of supporting veterans and their families impacted by service.

Established by RSL Queensland in 2013, Mates4Mates was set up as an initiative to support injured current and former Defence Force personnel and their families, particularly after the withdrawal of Australian troops from Afghanistan in the same year. 

With now more than half a million veterans estimated to be living in Australia, Mates4Mates have remained committed to understanding the needs of those who have served and what it means to be part of the Defence community. 

As we celebrate our 10th birthday in 2023, you can join in on the birthday fun with us by purchasing your own '10 Years of Mates' commemorative tee on the Mates4Mates Shop. Every purchase supports those impacted by service.

In the beginning

In its first year, rehabilitation adventure challenges were held by Mates4Mates to raise awareness for those impacted by service, such as the three-week kayaking journey from Sydney to Brisbane that a team of veterans completed, including Paralympic gold medallist, Curtis McGrath OAM. 

With the Brisbane Family Recovery Centre opening on 15 March 2013 to support the South East Queensland Defence community, the adventure challenges also provided an opportunity for vital funds to be raised to develop further Mates4Mates sites, leading to the opening of the Townsville Family Recovery Centre and Hobart Family Recovery Centre in 2014.

Social connection for mateship

Knowing the power of social connection and community, Mates4Mates created regular opportunities for mateship and peer-support through social, recreational, and family activities.

Liaison officers from all areas of the Defence community have facilitated a wide variety of activities that have been inclusive of veterans – or Mates – as well as partners and children. Regular activities over the years have included coffee catch ups, bike rides, walks, cooking classes, craft workshops, BBQs, and many more.

Now as one of the dedicated service offerings at Mates4Mates, it’s these social connection activities that have played a vital role in building a safe and welcoming community, with veterans and family members joining in across Australia, including online since 2020.

Clinical services for veterans 

As Mates4Mates began to slowly expand its service offerings, its focus shifted to the many pathways to recovery for veterans, with psychological and physical rehabilitation support introduced. 

The use of evidence-based therapies and programs run by psychologists and exercise physiologists has allowed current and ex-serving Defence Force members and their families to receive support and care for service-related physical injuries, mental health issues and isolation. 

Since then, social workers and counsellors have joined the Mates4Mates team to provide a holistic approach that aims to make a real difference to veterans and their families.

Our history

  • 2013: Mates4Mates Brisbane Family Recovery Centre opens and social connection activities and psychology services begin being offered
  • 2014: Townsville and Hobart Family Recovery Centres open
  • 2015: Exercise physiology services begin being offered to veterans and families
  • 2016: The first ever clinical STAIR Program was facilitated for veterans and family members
  • 2018: First Soldier Recovery Centre program commences
  • 2020: Online Family Recovery Centre opens and Skills for Recovery Programs are launched
  • 2021: Northern Territory centre opens
  • 2022: Construction starts for new sites in Darwin (NT) and Ipswich (QLD)

Moving forward

Now in 2023, Mates4Mates offers a wide range of evidence-based services through four service streams: psychological services; physical rehabilitation and wellbeing services; social connection activities; and Skills for Recovery Programs.

Since 2013, almost 10,000 current and ex-serving Defence Force members, and their families, have accessed Mates4Mates services throughout South East Queensland, North Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, as well as online. 

As we look to the future of what support veterans require from ex-service organisations, Mates4Mates remains dedicated to actively changing the lives of current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members, and their families, impacted by service through mateship and connection.

With mates behind you, there’s power to move forward, so make the call that makes the difference on 1300 4 MATES (62 837).

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