Celebrating 40 years

Open Arms – the counselling service founded by Vietnam veterans – celebrates 40 years

The Vietnam War was a difficult chapter in Australia's history, and for those who served, the experience forged strong bonds and a commitment to look out for each other.

This deep sense of mateship led Vietnam veterans to lobby for a specialised counselling and support service for Vietnam, and on this day 40 years ago, the first Vietnam Veterans’ Counselling Service office opened in Adelaide.

Since 1982, the service, now called Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling, has provided millions of free mental health counselling sessions and support to hundreds of thousands of serving and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force as well as their families.

Founded by Veterans for Veterans

‘Today’s celebration is an opportunity for us to reflect on the achievements of the Vietnam veterans who founded the service, and celebrate a service that continues to evolve to meet the needs of veterans and their families,’ said Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel.

‘Since the first centre opened under the banner of the Vietnam Veterans’ Counselling Service in Adelaide, veterans and their families can be confident that specialised support is available for them, whenever they may need it.’

Today is the first of many significant dates for Open Arms, with a number of initiatives celebrating 40 years of support to the veteran community planned for 2022. The offices in Sydney, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane will also mark their 40th anniversary.

‘This year will be testament to the commitment of the Vietnam veterans who advocated for the establishment of a service that now boasts 35 outlets in every state and territory around Australia, and a network of more than 1300 mental health professionals,’ said Open Arms National Manager, Dr Grant Pegg.

Expanded services to meet the needs of all Veterans and their families

In 2021, more veterans and their families sought support from Open Arms than any time in its 40 year history. As demand has increased, the service has evolved to offer 24/7 free confidential crisis support, Peer Support, Care Coordination, Crisis Accommodation Support, Psycho-education Workshops, Group Treatment Programs, and online tools through an accessible website and mobile apps.

Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling provides specialised, free and confidential Australia-wide support and can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1800 011 046.