About Veteran Sport Australia
Veteran Sport Australia connects veterans and their families with individual and team sport, recreational programs, one-off competitive events, camps and Games, like the Warrior Games and Invictus Games. We provide pathways to coaching and mentoring training, and access to financial assistance for those who cannot afford to participate. We make it easier for veterans and their families to access sport and recreation programs in their local area with the ultimate goal of improving their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
The Veteran Sport Australia team
Michael was previously the Chief Delivery Officer for the Invictus Games Sydney 2018, and a member of the 2018 Invictus Games Bid Steering Committee.
Prior to his time working on the Invictus Games, Michael spent 10 years with the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC), carrying out roles including Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, Sport.
During his decade with the APC, he held management positions on four Paralympic Teams (including Chef de Mission in 2010 and Deputy Chef de Mission in 2012).
VSA Support Coordinator
Anne has been involved in sport for most of her life. A lifelong competitor and rugby tragic, she is passionate about the benefit of sport and recreation for physical and mental wellbeing.
Anne has a Master of Athletic Administration from Central Washington University; completed while coaching the university’s nationally ranked women’s varsity Rugby team.
Anne has a range of professional experience managing teams at domestic and international competitions.
Program Services Coordinator
Ceridwen possesses broad experience working in the sports industries in United Kingdom, Canada and Australia and has a Masters of Sports Administration and Bachelor of Event Management.
Most recently she performed the roles of Games Delivery Coordinator and Sports Information Manager at the Invictus Games Sydney 2018, where she witnessed the positive effect sport and recreational activities can have on veterans and their families.
Veteran Engagement Specialist
Rachel spent seven years in Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), and saw active service as part of Operation Slipper in 2002.
Rachel knows firsthand the power of sport, selected as a competitor on the 2016 Australian Invictus Games Team to Orlando, and currently competes nationally in Powerlifting and Wheelchair Basketball.
Rachel’s professional experience includes electrical engineering, project management and contract administration. She is a qualified Powerlifting coach and CrossFit Instructor, and is currently studying a Bachelor of Exercise Physiology.
Participation and Engagement Lead
Sam has worked for mass membership organisations for over eight years. He has previously directed organising, advocacy and political campaigns around Australia and across Europe.
Sam has a Bachelor of Laws and Communications and is passionate about building communities and all forms of sport and recreation.
The history of VSA
On 26 October 2018, Veteran Sport Australia (VSA) was announced as a key legacy of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018; a nationwide program supporting the health and wellbeing of veterans and their families through sport. The Invictus Games shone a spotlight on the power of sport and brought organisations and communities together in support. The challenge remains to harness this goodwill and support to make a meaningful difference.
Federal Minister for Veterans Affairs, the Hon Darren Chester MP, and President of RSL NSW, James Brown, officially launched the program together in Sydney while attending the Games. Supporting the announcement were Veteran Affairs’ Ministers from all States and Territories.
The creation of VSA was led and enabled by the RSL, Australia’s longest-established national veterans’ charity. RSL Welfare and Benevolent Institution NSW, Australian International Military Games and Clubs NSW all contributed financially to the establishment of VSA.
VSA officially commenced operations in December 2019, with the appointment of dedicated staff.
RSL NSW and sport
VSA’s establishment was not the first effort by RSL NSW to engage veterans and their families through sport, to improve health and wellbeing.
In 2011 RSL volunteers came together to start an adaptive sport program. They understood the importance of sport and activity to veterans’ self-esteem and physical and mental health. As veterans, they felt the benefits themselves and saw the spark in other participants.
In 2013 the program was renamed RSL Active and through regular and one-off sporting activities, it encouraged wounded and ill veterans to stay healthy through sport and connect socially with others. In the beginning, the activities were primarily in NSW.
In early 2018, the work and passion of the original volunteers - Darren McManus-Smith, Brad Copelin, Scott Seccombe and Stewart Sherman - was recognised when RSL WBI employed a professional sport coordinator. Later, this coordinator would transfer to the newly created Veteran Sport Australia.