Below is the Change.org petition run by ANVAM and regular updates on progress.
In early 2017 ANVAM conducted a Change.org petition to gather community support to save the old Repat Clinic. The original petition and updates are provided below.
As at July 2018 the Federal and State Governments have failed to resolve the question of ownership. ANVAM understands that the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, had provided Senator Hinch his agreement to facilitating an outcome that would see ANVAM take responsibility for 310 St Kilda Rd.
The historic Repatriation Commission Outpatient Clinic at 310 St Kilda Road adjacent to the Shrine of Remembrance and Melbourne Arts Precinct is being prepared for sale by the Federal Government.
The Australian National Veterans Arts Museum (ANVAM) has been lobbying the Commonwealth Government to enable them to act as trustees or tenant of the vacant building, which would come at no cost to the Government and the public.
This building has a deep connection with the veteran community; opened in 1937, it has been central to rehabilitation of veterans from both World Wars, Korean and Vietnam Wars and has been vacant since 1995.
ANVAM’s vision is to transform the classic art deco building into a veterans art museum and centre dedicated to improving their health and wellbeing through art therapy programs. Making this a veterans community space will be a fitting tribute during the Centenary of WWI.
ANVAM provides creative arts therapy programs and support to veterans and their families in line with world’s best practice to help heal the mental scars of war, ANVAM is funded through public donations.
Updates to the petition:
(18) The Mirror
Apr 17, 2017 — I want to share this poem by Barham Ferguson on veterans identity with you…
Through the mirror of the past.
A warrior, not once outclassed.
This was who I was.
From the dust of duty first.
The last hoorah of machine gun burst.
Wounds of war no longer nursed.
The world knew who I was.
Homeward bound with dreams anew.
Perceptions changed on what I do.
My useful skills seemed less than few.
I defended who I was.
Fighting family, fighting friends.
The war has changed, it never ends.
“Is my life pointless?” now depends,
On knowing who I am.
Where to start, and what to do?
What do I have that pleases you?
There’s things inside that still ring true.
They make me who I am.
Strength and honour. Discipline.
These soldier traits have not worn thin.
Unlike the uniform in the bin.
These traits are who I am.
There’s many more that made me me.
When I was in the military.
But in these threads I now can see.
That made me who I am.
Now its time to do what’s right.
To find a mission, and gain insight.
To be the me who can sleep at night,
‘Cause I do know who I am.
Barham J. R. Ferguson
13 February 2017
Together with the recent story by SBS it tells a compelling story of just how important this fight to save the old Repat Clinic is to help veterans find their identity and support families.
(17) Architectural & Historical Wonder
Apr 14, 2017 — Architect George Hallendal was responsible for a number of Commonwealth properties around Melbourne in the 30’s including the old Repat Clinic. In a recent report by Heritage Victoria his work on Military Drill hall’s around Melbourne was praised.
A departure from his series of Drill halls for the Army was the old Repat Clinic. The attached drawing provides a sense of his original vision for this place; a place that is unique in Australia and will turn 80 this November.
Heritage Victoria has received an application to list the old Repat Clinic on the State heritage register. Those task with the investigation could not be more highly qualified, which should give all passionate about this place a great deal of confidence. Their investigation is underway including a recent site visit. While a listing may complicate remediation efforts it will rightly recognize the significance of this place and the veteran community in shaping Victoria & Australia post WWI, WWII, Korean & Vietnam wars.
There is no doubt the old Repat Clinic, while sitting idle for over 20 years, has a very significant part in the history of Victoria’s & Australia’s veteran community; a part that will be honoured through the vision of transforming the old Repat Clinic into a cultural center to hold the memories and stories of the veteran community.
(16) We did it!
Apr 5, 2017 — With much gratitude to everyone who has put their name to this petition we are able to announce the Federal & State Governments have agreed on an arrangement that will result in the Australian National Veterans Arts Museum (ANVAM) having a permanent home at the old Repatriation Clinic, 310 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne.
Words cannot express how grateful we are on behalf of all in the veteran community for the many many supporters who have chipped in along the journey, including everyone involved in this petition.
The next phase of the journey begins now and we hope you’ll stay connected to ANVAM through the web site, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and newsletters.
In terms of details of the agreement, what we know at this stage is that the property will be transferred to the Victorian State Government. ANVAM will get the property for a peppercorn rent indefinitely. Details of the remediation project, timelines etc are yet to be determined.
Thanks again for all the comments and engagement along the way. We look forward to closing this petition as a victory in the coming days.
(15) Vision for the old Repat Clinic
Apr 2, 2017 — The question is often asked about making the old Repat Clinic sustainable and relevant. To deliver a sustainable institution that has its own distinct identity requires balance between veterans and community services.
The attached floor plan of the ground floor at the old Repat Clinic shows the uses for the various existing rooms in the context of a veterans cultural institution. It is necessary to provide a balance between the sorts of facilities typical of a cultural institution including public access areas; galleries, retail shop, artist in residence and café as well as the wellbeing areas for the use of veterans including art studio areas. These studios cover visual art, music, creative writing and drama.
All facilities contribute to the urban renewal of this area of Melbourne bringing creativity and a new vibrancy to a quiet area and providing amenity for the whole community
Through this approach the business case and modelling for the old Repat Clinic shows the site can be sustainable as a cultural institution for veterans thereby preserving an important part of Australia’s military/veteran heritage while delivery a valuable service to the wellbeing of veterans and families.
(14) Art of the possible
Mar 30, 2017 — The exhibition at Space@Collins gallery provides a terrific perspective of what is possible if veterans had their own permanent gallery. Add to this studio spaces for different media; 2D, 3D, creative writing, music, drama and more and you have a place that feels alive and makes those in it also feel alive; a cultural institution for wellbeing.
The number of positive comments about the exhibition is fantastic and often followed by a reflection on the potential benefits for veterans and families of a permanent home. If you haven’t dropped past yet please make some time to come in. If you’re in the veteran community we’d also love to see some of your creativity in action.
(13) Art is a shield to protect veterans
Mar 29, 2017 — News this morning of the growing tragedy of veterans suicide with a reported 21 suicides already in 2017. With love and thoughts to all families and friends caught in this growing tragedy it also signals a further tragic milestone. In 2016 one veteran suicided every FIVE days. So far in 2017 one veteran is suiciding every FOUR days.
This rate of suicide among veterans (incl. ADF members) now matches the rate Australian troops were killed in action during the Vietnam War.
This got us thinking about the investment made to ‘protect’ current servicing members vs the efforts to protect vulnerable veterans. The level of investment in (self) protection measures for ADF members is very high and targeted to the threat; training, helmets, ballistic vests, boots and other personal equipment. Beyond this inner layer of protection there is an outer layer too; counter IED measures, communications, unit members and other supporting units etc.
For veterans the levels of protections exist but the evidence is now clear they are ineffective for all the threats veterans face. The medical model works well for those who present as sick. But the stigma attached to seeking help for mental health concerns is a strong barrier.
A recent conversation with an organization that makes protective equipment for ADF members highlighted how ‘trendy’ it is for the troops to wear their helmets, body armour, metaphorical shield etc. Being trendy overcomes any stigma and results in a greater level of protection. How can we make the support mechanisms for veterans ‘trendy’? We have an idea…!
The arts feature in every culture that has ever existed. The arts are trendy. Art is for everyone, and everyone will be attracted to something in the arts. Facilitated in an arts in wellbeing framework the arts offers a layer of protection that overcomes stigma and could just well be the ‘shield’ our veterans need; that important layer of defence as part of the broader protection network to get the right help before it is too late.
Please listen to US Marine Corps Captain Jason Burner talk about art and his shield.
(12) Heavy heart & missed opportunity
Mar 26, 2017 — Dear friends,
It is with a heavy heart we learn about the recent passing of Max Angus in February. Max, we believe, was Australia’s oldest practicing veteran artist at 102. Born in October 1914 he lived through Australia’s centenary of service, including serving at Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, on General Blamey’s HQ and then in Brisbane where he worked with Japanese Prisoners of War preparing propaganda material to be dropped over Japanese occupied areas.
Very highly regarded in his home town of Hobart, and a Member of the Order of Australia, Max epitomized what it means to be a veteran artist and gentleman.
It has been a long held goal that, on behalf of our grateful nation, we would be able to share with our World War Two (WWII) veterans and veteran artists the news that the Government has seen fit to allow us to transform the old Repat Clinic into a unique cultural and healing arts centre for all veterans where their stories, told through their art, would be cherished along with all work by veterans. With each passing day that goal looks more and more distant.
An opportunity was created to encourage the Prime Minister to meet Max on his birthday in October last year. The PM was too busy to make himself, or even another member of his government, available for our oldest veteran artist.
Time is running out. The ranks of our WWII veteran artists are thinning with Max’s passing and the passing over the last few years of some extraordinary artists who served this country during the war.
If you are aware of other living WWII veteran artists please bring them to our attention. We would love to facilitate an exhibition of their work in their honour.
For those interested in learning more about Max please follow the links below:
(11) Exhibition now open
Mar 24, 2017 — ANVAM has put together an exhibition of veterans art. This is a fantastic opportunity to get a great sense of the possibilities for the old Repat Clinic.
There will, however, be much more for veterans, families and the community at the new home of the Australian National Veterans Arts Museum (ANVAM).
Please visit and continue the great support.
Please post your feedback on the exhibition too.
(10) Art for Heroes
Mar 17, 2017 — In the lead up to next weeks exhibition, ‘A March to Art: Identity’ by veteran artists, we invite you to spend some time watching this full BBC documentary ‘Art for Heroes‘. This will give you a great appreciation of the power of art and art therapy for veterans and the possibilities for the old Repat Clinic as a centre for veterans arts.
We look forward to your feedback & comments.
(9) Big week coming …
Mar 16, 2017 — Next week is a big week for veterans arts & the old Repat Clinic:
a. Parliament returns & is the time to ensure all MPs know the public want the Repat Clinc saved for veterans. Hinch will be on the job but we need all MPs onside …
Please reach out to your local MP to ensure they’re aware of the matter and are vocal in representing the publics wishes.
b. A March to Art: Identity (free) exhibition opens on Wednesday 22nd. If you’re in Melbourne up to ANZAC Day please visit & show your support for the artists. Please make yourself known to those at the gallery as a supporter of this petition so we can thank you in person.
(8) Thanks to you and the 22!
Mar 12, 2017 — 22 extraordinary supporters have felt strongly enough about the old Repat Clinic, its ultimate transformation into a veterans healing arts centre and in supporting veterans wellbeing to financially promote this petition. This support is a vital part of the success of this petition to date for which we, on behalf of all veterans and families, are especially grateful to you.
In addition over 100 pages of comments have also been made in strong support of this petition and cause. It is a real honour to read through each of these comments and feel the level of respect for this place, for veterans and for the arts.
Of course we welcome and respectfully request your further financial and word of mouth support. Now within reach of 13,000 signatories it is important to continue the momentum to send a clear message to the Government that this building is important, this place is important, the arts are important and, most importantly, veterans matter.
Having personally walked the halls and rooms of the old Repat Clinic, from the upper floor offices to the basement vaults, it is clear that THIS IS the place for veterans healing, wellness, creativity, identity and community. In the attached photo of the old Repat Clinic waiting hall just imagine the generations of WWI, WWII, Korean & Vietnam war veterans mingling together while waiting their appointment. Going forward imagine also the extraordinary artworks by veterans and families that will be exhibited here and the sense of pride we’ll all have in their achievements.
Call to Action: Please ask ‘the’ most influential person in your network to share this petition with their broader network so we can push on to 15,000 supporters.
(7) ALP maintains support
Mar 9, 2017 — Recent discussions with Federal ALP Ministers have confirmed Labor’s ongoing support for new thinking to old problems.
ALP, together with Derryn Hinch’s strong support, ‘should’ get a positive outcome with 310SKR. There are, however, many challenges to overcome for which community support is essential.
Learning this morning of another veteran suicide by a young 24yo this week reinforces we can do better for these vulnerable veterans. ANVAM & 310SKR are part of the fabric the veteran community needs to wrap around vulnerable veterans to keep them safe & return their quality of life. Where we can’t there is a family left to mourn. They too need our support.
Please share this petition so we can get positive action.
(6) Govt missing suicide reduction opportunity
Mar 9, 2017 — Suicide by veterans is at unprecedented levels; 1 every 5 days. Van Badham’s article draws further attention to Ruth Lampert’s story in the Herald Sun last year; nothing has changed.
Despite the lack of progress the Government continues to ignore this positive & proactive approach that uses a range of levers to engage veterans. An essential element is the sense of belonging & place.
Nowhere does the veteran community as a whole have a cultural place where each veteran & family member can creatively explore their identity within the broader context of a proud veteran history & heritage.
310 St Kilda Rd is, or could be, that place. We implore Government to use all levers at their disposal, including this uniquely place building, in a united & collaborative front to overcome suicide & deliver better quality of life to those suffering.
(5) Veterans Identity
Mar 6, 2017 — ANVAM is about to open its inaugural exhibition of veterans art. Titled ‘A March to Art: Identity’ it explores the theme and importance of individual and collective identity for veterans & families.
During this time; Centenary of WWI, peak suicide rates by veterans, battle to save veterans heritage (310 St Kilda Rd), the idea of Identity comes through as a central theme, issue and opportunity all in one.
310 St Kilda Rd represents the one best opportunity we have to allow veterans to understand and shape individual and collective identity. Where else do we have a place run by veterans for ‘all’ veterans with a focus on healing, culture, stories, history and community? This would be an extraordinary legacy from this generation to the next but also to those generations who have gone before; recognition of the role art has had in their lives and, as a result, in ours.
Please find time to visit the exhibition in Melbourne and learn something of veterans identity from a veterans perspective. This will also give you a glimps of the possibility of what could be at 310 St Kilda Rd.
(4) Credible proposal to Government
Mar 2, 2017 — In Senate Estimates on 1 March we heard ANVAM had not ‘yet’ provided a credible proposal for 310 St Kilda Rd.
The credible proposal that was provided to Government in May 2016 was to leverage the LANDS ACQUISITION ACT 1989 – SECT 122. That is:
(2) Land set apart for, or dedicated to, a public purpose under subsection (1) may be vested in trustees upon trust to carry out the purpose for which it is set apart or dedicated.
An LAA s.122 decision is for Government alone. It would see 310 St Kilda Rd remain with the Commonwealth but no longer part of the Defence estate; entrusted to veterans through ANVAM for the wellbeing and benefit of all veterans and families.
(3) Hinch fights for ANVAM in the Senate
Mar 1, 2017 — During the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee today Derryn Hinch, a fierce supporter of ANVAM, fought the Department of Defence on the sale of 310 St Kilda road.
His amazing presentation, which highlighted ANVAM’s three year fight for the building, lead to Steve Grzeskowiak, The Deputy Secretary for Estate and Infrastructure Group to state that “the nature of the discussion we are having right now [with the Victorian Government] could lead to an off market sale”.
This is positive news in ANVAM’s fight for 310 St Kilda Road and puts us all one step closer to securing a home for veterans arts in the old repatriation clinic.
(2) Origin of the vision for a veterans arts centre & museum
Feb 27, 2017 — Thank you to all who have supported the petition for 310SKR to be preserved as a veterans arts centre & museum. Over 12,000 in under a week is a stunning outcome & each voice counts. I have attempted to read every comment & am very grateful for the very personal reflections. They all help to give voice to all veterans who currently have none, but for whom ANVAM & 310SKR may prove the catalyst.
A key input into ANVAM’s vision for 310SKR is based on the “NVAM” in the US. See the attached short video and how stunning, therapeutic & emotional veterans arts is & can be.
Please continue to share with your network & encourage them to support as this is future of 310SKR is still in a very tenuous position
(1) The Age article
Feb 20, 2017 — Great support from Clay Lucas at The Age to share this important message with the public.