Funding victory for Port Lincoln veteran cemetery

After being forced to appeal for community help with a GoFundMe page, the Port Lincoln RSL has secured state funding to maintain its Garden of Remembrance and veteran cemetery.

Nov 28, 2023, updated Nov 28, 2023
The Pt Lincoln RSL will use some of the new funding to link graves with the Virtual War Memorial. Photo: Supplied

The Pt Lincoln RSL will use some of the new funding to link graves with the Virtual War Memorial. Photo: Supplied

When federal funding was withdrawn from the cemetery in June, the RSL turned to GoFundMe to raise money to continue vital maintenance and upgrades.

One Nation’s Sarah Game MLC learned of funding being withdrawn after reading about the situation on InDaily and helped secure the RSL $25,000 a year for three years from the state government to cover the loss.

“I think this shows why the media and parliamentarians need to be alert at all times, to ensure that the government of the day remains accountable for matters like this,” she said.

“It’s all about shining a spotlight on needs, as has happened here.”

Game said that it is important for State governments to intervene in situations where federal funding is withdrawn.

“Although it might seem quick, this came about after many conversations with the state government about many areas of veteran advocacy,” she said.

“There are very few RSL cemeteries that are relying on the federal government for funding so I don’t see why that shouldn’t be able to be maintained.

“The priority is to just make sure that the Remembrance Garden can actually be maintained and isn’t left neglected.”

The funding will ease pressures on the Port Lincoln cemeteries volunteer workforce, but Port Lincoln RSL president Gary Clough said that $25,000 goes quickly.

“If we lose a few volunteers, and I did a few estimates, even if we get Bedford Industries say to come out for three hours once a week for forty weeks, that’s $14,500 of it gone,” Clough said.

“Then we would still need someone to oversee and do the landscaping, which is another landscape cost on top of that.

“By the time you factor in your fuel, your maintenance on your machinery and everything else it doesn’t take much for the $25,000 to disappear.”

Clough said that the RSL have a lot of work they would like to get done on the cemetery within the next three to four years.

“We’ve got new fencing going in down the side, we would like to replicate that right across the front,” he said.

“We’d like to redo the actual entrance – make that a bit more presentable and increase the concreting there.

“It has to be accessible for older and disabled people, be it in wheelchairs, walkers or whatever, and the footpaths are great for that.”

Clough said the Port Lincoln RSL also hope to establish QR codes on each grave.

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“We are linked with the Virtual War Memorial, and we’re linked in with the Australian War Museum because we have our own museum here,” he said.

“The Garden of Remembrance and the museum and our records and everything else is all linked together.

“We want people to be able to come in and just scan on their phone and go straight to the Virtual War Memorial to look up the actual history of the individual.”

The RSL’s initial crowdfunding campaign exceeded its goal and raised over $6000.

“I’ve assured everyone that that money will be going towards the irrigation system, it won’t be syphoned off to anywhere else,” Clough said.

“Especially with summer coming up, and we don’t know what sort of summer we’re going to have, even if our volunteers go out there at nights and do the watering it can take up to five hours.

“If we can get the irrigation system sorted out, get it on timers, that will save a lot of wear and tear on knees and everything else.”

Clough said that he and the RSL are very happy with the support received over the last month.

“The last couple of weeks have been a complete and utter whirlwind, but it’s been a good whirlwind,” he said.

“I was happy for the amount of support we got but I knew there would be a response from the public and the local businesses, because that’s just the way Port Lincoln is.

“It’s a pretty good little community this one.”

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