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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 10069


Mr CONROY (Charlton) (10:48): The Invictus Games were held in London from 9 to 14 September and I would like to acknowledge Darren McManus-Smith from the South Lake Macquarie RSL Sub Branch, who played a very important role in the Australian team. Darren is the Australian Returned and Services League veteran team manager. He was selected by the RSL National President, Rear Admiral Ken Doolan, to take on this role and lead our contingent at the games, which is an international sporting competition for servicemen and servicewomen of the armed forces who have been wounded or injured or are ill as a result of their service to their country. The games focused on the power of sport to inspire recovery and support rehabilitation amongst the wounded warriors, and following the success of this event future games are now in discussion.

Team Invictus Australia was made up of current members of the ADF and veterans primarily from the recent Middle East conflicts. The team consisted of 21 veterans and 15 current servicemen and servicewomen from across Australia as well as their family members or carers. Our Aussie team was the third largest at the meet, which saw 13 nations and more than 400 athletes come together for the games to compete in world-class venues at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Competitors took part in nine adaptive sports and, whilst I understand the medal tally was not officially recorded, our Australian team was certainly successful, winning close to 20 medals in events such as athletics, cycling, archery, swimming and rowing. Darren McManus-Smith described the team as a group of 'highly motivated individuals' and says that for the veterans:

… it is a great honour to represent Australia once again, but this time instead of wearing a military uniform they are wearing a sporting uniform.

I think Darren has summed up what makes his approach to rehabilitation so significant. Each of these athletes overcame challenges to train for and participate in these games, and this is good for their own development, but of course it is an inspiration for those around them. Following the games, the members of Team Invictus Australia are travelling to a variety of locations on the Western Front, where they will hold small services to honour fallen Australian servicemen who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the First World War. I would like to acknowledge the RSL sub-branches from across Lake Macquarie which provided the financial support to send local members to the Invictus Games.

As we gear up for the Centenary of Anzac, it is important not just that we honour their sacrifice but that we commit to looking after current veterans from more recent conflicts. It is important that we do both to honour the sacrifice of all those who have died in this country's name. I would like to extend my congratulations to Darren McManus-Smith, who contributes enormously to our local community through the sub-branch and to the Returned and Services League more generally through his role as a state councillor.