It was for his work with veterans that Frank Duffy was made a deacon of the Anglican church, and why he has been awarded an Order of Australia medal in this year’s Queen’s birthday honours.
Reverend Duffy said he was “chuffed” to receive an OAM for his service to veterans, their families and community but was humble about the recognition saying “I just do what I do”.
“Initially, I was in a mind to not want it,” he said.
“But it was suggested to me that it would be unfair to the people who did the hard work to put me up for it. So, for their sake I said yes.”
Rev Duffy, from Corlette, had a uncommon introduction to the Anglican church clergy.
He and wife Yvonne were raised in the church.
Today, they attend All Saints Anglican in Nelson Bay.
It was soon after they moved from Coffs Harbour to the Bay in 2006 that Rev Duffy was asked by Bishop Brian Farran, diocese of Newcastle at the time, if he would be a deacon.
Previously, a deacon was seen as a stepping stone to becoming a priest.
Bishop Farran took the role of the deacon “back to its roots”, Rev Duffy said, when it had a distinct role – to provide a link between the church and the community.
“It fitted perfectly with the role of veteran visiting, which incidentally I had been doing prior to being a deacon,” Rev Duffy said.
He was ordained in 2007.
Rev Duffy has been part of the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) for 30 years.
He is one of four generations of Australian servicemen.
His father served in Papua New Guinea, he carried out compulsory national service from 1957 which saw him complete military training to be “at the ready” should conflict break out, and his son and grandson are members of the Navy.
Rev Duffy joined the RSL in 1987 while living in Penrith.
He became a welfare officer and began visiting veterans when he lived in Coffs Harbour, a service he continued when he moved to Nelson Bay.
Rev Duffy and John Collins form the Nelson Bay RSL Sub-Branch’s welfare team.
The men visit the 100 veterans on their books, be it in their home, hostels or hospitals, to check on their welfare.
“Our role is to visit veterans and, really, to fulfil the principle role of the RSL movement which is to give volunteer service to veterans that are in need of oversight, care and consideration,” Rev Duffy said.
“We bus about the place visiting impaired and ill vets, mostly just for a chat about anything and everything. We refer any problems we find to the advocacy team to follow up on.
“Welfare is an important service. Until we actually do it, until anyone does it, you don’t know how important this simple act of a visit is.
“It doesn’t take much, just a chat, but by gee, those who receive it, to feel like someone else values your life enough to spend a bit of their life with them, that’s really something.
“It has its ups and downs, like any community service does.
“But knowing it does make a difference is the thing that gets you up and going.
“Sometimes it gets very hard but if you love what you’re doing, that’s the driver.”
As well as a welfare officer, Rev Duffy is the welfare chaplain for the Nelson Bay RSL Sub-Branch and the National Service and Combined Forces Association.
Article: Port Stephens Examiner