Camp Courage hopes for state government approval to support heroes

VETERANS and first responders traumatised by service to others are hoping the state government will step up and approve the use of land in the Scenic Rim for Camp Courage.

The project is run by the 4 Aussie Heroes Foundation, which has applied for ministerial designation to allow subdivision of land to be gifted to the group.

The not-for-profit organisation has already been offering an 11-day residential program for veterans and first responders experiencing mental health issues.

Vietnam veteran and co-founder of 4 Aussie Heroes Gerry Garard said people came from near and far, including a paramedic from Tasmania who completed the program in March last year.

He said while they had run several live-in "Triumph Over Trauma" programs at The Outlook training and resource centre at Boonah, it had always been the intention to establish a purpose built facility.

"We already obtained a state government grant to build a horse facility for our equine assisted therapy program at the Camp Courage site," he said.

"Now we need development approval to build the rest.

"We are hoping that will happen before Christmas."

Scenic Rim Regional Council voted unanimously to support the application at their April 27 ordinary meeting.

Planning and Development manager Mark Lohmann put the proposal before councillors, saying council was unable to provide development approval for less than 100 hectares.

The Camp Courage site covers 12.9 hectares at Limestone Ridges near Peak Crossing.

Several councillors spoke in favour of the project, with Cr Duncan McInnes pointing out that submissions from neighbouring residents with concerns about the retreat had been lodged with the state government.

"This is the ideal site for something like this," he said.

Mr Garard said he believed there had only been a handful of objections to the project and 4 Aussie Heroes was drafting responses to the the state government.

"We have lodged about 800 pages covering traffic, environment and water issues, those sorts of things," he said.

"We have a great organisation working with us pro bono on this, they've probably put in about $250,000 worth of work for free.

"I think some people may have misinterpreted the number of cars they thought might be on the property so we had to clarify that aspect.

"There was also some confusion over tree clearing. We don't want to take trees, that's for sure, so it will be the bare minimum."

Division 2 councillor Jeff McConnell also gave his support.

"Given the number of suicides among veterans a program like this is much needed," he said.

"The level of search and rescues by the SES has skyrocketed over the last 12 months.

"There is a lot of area out there, it's a little bit more remote and will benefit both veterans and first responders."

Division 4 councillor Michael Enright said the project was worth supporting.

"I have also been on this journey with Gerry Garard, who has put a lot of effort into finding the appropriate block of land," he said.

"I'm happy we can support this through a submission to the minister."

Mr Garard said he had been speaking with council for a long time about his vision for the retreat.

"I spoke to Mayor Christensen about it nearly four years ago and he was very supportive," he said.

"Scenic Rim Regional Council has been very good to us over the years."