Veteran workshop throws open its doors

A NEWLY reformed workshop that uses woodworking activities and camaraderie is helping veterans recover from service with the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Recently incorporated as the Defence Force Veterans Time Out Workshop (DFVTOW), it is open to all current or ex-serving (regular or reservist) members of the ADF.

DFVTOW president Colin Hickton said the essence of the workshop was established in Hobart by a psychiatrist about 20-years-ago.

He said the psychiatrist recognised that medication and counselling did not always meet the needs of veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other anxiety conditions.

“The military is a very different environment and men that have served often understand each other – we are more tolerant and deal with things in a different way,” he said.

“Coming from 20-years of service and finding yourself on the city street can be very alienating – the workshop acts as a halfway house.

“Our members can let off steam about things that are affecting them in a way that they wouldn’t be able to do with civilians.”

Mr Hickman said the main aim of the workshop was to provide an environment that was inclusive, supportive and friendly.

“Members can practice and improve their skills in activities such as general wood work, wood turning and metal work, but any creative activity may be pursued using the tools and equipment available in the workshop,” he said.

“We have welders, machinists and woodworkers and we have produced things such as pens, spoons, cutting boards and even instruments such as guitars, cellos and ukuleles.”

In honour of Men’s Health Week (from 12-18 June), the DFVTOW will be hosting an Open Day in an effort to recruit new members, both young and old.

The event will include a free barbecue, wood products for display and sale and a number of woodturning and equipment demonstrations.

An ex-Navy serviceman and DFVTOW member of four-years, Chris Coughran said the workshop had helped to keep him both physically and mentally active.

“You learn new things every day and it’s just the simple thing of being active, being able to do things and see the result,” he said.

“I’d encourage all ADF members to give it a go – you can increase your skills and be with people of your own ilk who understand your situation.”

The DFVTOW Open Day will be held on Saturday 17 June from 11am-1pm at the workshop, located at the end of Loyd Road, Dowsing Point.

For more information, contact Dick Holtsbaum on 0418 541 230, Norm Brundle on 0448 968 966 or email

Caption: Defence Force Time Out Workshop members, from left, Dick Holtsbaum, Colin Hickton (president), Norm Brundle, Chris Coughran, Neil Laughlin and John Mihal.


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