Invictus games

Mr DULUK (Waite) (15:50): I quote William Ernest Henley:

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid. It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

Those are the words of William Ernest Henley's 1888 poem, Invictus, which encapsulates the fighting spirit. After losing a leg to tuberculosis at 16, Henley had further complications with his remaining leg, which in 1873 required surgery. Of course, he spent many hours in the infirmary. Whilst recovering, Henley wrote the verses that became Invictus—powerful words of fortitude and stoicism. Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela have also used the words from that poem on many occasions.

The importance of Henley's work has today been realised in the official poem of the Invictus Games. This month, over 500 competitors from 18 nations will converge in Sydney for the 2018 Invictus Games. These include 72 athletes competing under the Australian flag. Created in 2014 by the Duke of Sussex, His Royal Highness Prince Harry, the Invictus Games set out to promote the importance of sport and physical activity as part of the rehabilitation and recovery of wounded service members and veterans. Derived from Latin, 'invictus' means unconquered.

 It is this fearlessness and fighting spirit that encapsulate the wounded, injured and ill service men and women. The Invictus Games challenge perceptions and send a positive message about life beyond disability. Along with important mental health programs and access to quality health care, the Invictus Games is an important initiative promoting physical and mental health. This year, nine South Australians are participating in the Invictus Games: Ben Yeomans in athletics and indoor rowing, Darren Peters in archery and wheelchair basketball, Steve Sandman in archery, Christopher Pitman in cycling and indoor rowing, Corporal Steven Avery in wheelchair basketball, Leading Seaman Vanessa Broughill in athletics and swimming, Ms Emelia Mysko in cycling and indoor rowing, Able Seaman Daniel Marsh in cycling and sitting volleyball and Brendan Hardman in wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball. These individuals will compete in 11 adaptive sports.

The traumas that our service men and women have experienced on the front line are unfathomable to many of us, and it is indeed fantastic that they are out there representing our nation once again. The welfare of veterans was of course central to the opening of the Repatriation General Hospital in 1942 as an important site for those men and women recovering from the horrors of war. Since then, we have come to understand how important the mental health and wellbeing of veterans is.

As you know, Mr Speaker, the former Labor government promised to never, ever sell the Repatriation General Hospital, but that is exactly what they did in the last term of government. The state Liberal government is committed to revitalising the Repat as a health precinct for South Australians. The pool is now open, and this is an important place for many in my electorate who require rehabilitation.

By ensuring that rehabilitation facilities are well maintained, we can best look after our service men and women, as well as the wider community. We have been listening to the public and continue to consult with them about the needs of the Repat and what they want on that site, and we hope to have full services back there by early 2019.

Last week was Mental Health Week. There are injuries from amputations to PTSD, more than just injuries that can be seen. Between 5 and 20 per cent of veterans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives compared with only 5 to 10 per cent of the broader population, and 8 per cent of current serving members will suffer from PTSD in a given year. Suicide and PTSD remain complex issues for many in the community.

Between 2005 and 2015, suicide accounted for 20 per cent of deaths whilst people were serving, with 13 per cent of those in the Reserves and 17 per cent comprising ex-service men and women. Between 2002 and 2016, ex-servicemen had an age-adjusted suicide rate 18 per cent higher than all Australian men. It is our very important duty to honour and to look after those who have served. I wish all those people the best in the upcoming Invictus Games.