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Q & A with Melissa Bingley

Q & A with Melissa Bingley - Legacy

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became part of the Legacy family?

I live in Townsville north Queensland, I moved here when I was 4-years-old and I love the city, its people and the great sense of community. In 1994 I met the love of my life - Mark - at a friend’s wedding and we began a wonderful life together. Mark was the Captain of a Blackhawk Helicopter that crashed into the sea off the coast of Fiji during a military coup in November 2006. The day he died my life changed forever and Legacy became part of my life.

How is life for you today?

Today my life is fairly simple and purposely stress free. My son Mitchell and I have wonderful support from family and friends. We surround ourselves with happy, positive people who generally make us feel good.

How do you relax?

I love taking our dog Roxy for a walk, Mitchell and I have started going on a Sunday bike ride and if I have time I like doing paper crafts like scrap booking.

What part has Legacy played in your life?

In the first few years when Mitchell was little Legacy were a constant in our lives, always checking up on us and seeing us through the hard days. In recent years I have become involved with the Legacy Explorers Club here in Townsville. The Explorers Club was set up to provide support and social opportunities for the younger widows and children here in the garrison city of Townsville. It gave the ladies and children a place to get together and just have some fun and move forward in life despite the tragedy they had all faced.

Mitchell was only 3-months-old when Mark died, how do you keep his memory alive?

My family and I all speak of Mark in a positive way. We focus on his life not on his death, we also tell Mitchell all the normal everyday things that Mark did, not just the hero Army stuff. Things like Mark’s favourite colour, the way he made his tea, funny noises he made with his throat, the little things we think are important for Mitchell to remember.

Do you have a favourite time/memory of Mark?

The year after we married we were given a wonderful opportunity to go on an overseas posting to Alabama in the US for 18 months. It was the most amazing time of our lives, we travelled a lot during our stay and met some lovely people along the way.

Is there enough help out there for widows/defence families or does it need to be made more readily available?

I think awareness is a big issue. A lot of Australians have this image of a Legacy widow being an older lady, however there are a number of younger ladies who are now part of the Legacy family and they do have different needs than the older widows.

What is the Contemporary Needs Forum and what was your reaction when you were asked to be the Legacy representative?

It was formed by DVA to examine the emerging issues of younger widows and Veterans so that changes can be made to the programs and way DVA delivers its services. I was very honoured to be asked by Legacy to represent the younger widows on the Forum, it is wonderful that Legacy and DVA recognize the changing needs of our group of widows and their children.

What do you think/hope the Forum will achieve?

I hope the Forum will identify emerging issues, come up with realistic solutions that make it easier for younger widows in the future.

Why is it important for Legacy to be represented?

Legatees need to know what support is available through various departments and it gives younger widows an opportunity to state their issues and needs and come up with possible solutions.

Having attended your first Forum in Canberra recently were there any issues raised that surprised you?

There are some very worrying issues of PTSD amongst our returning veterans that needs to be addressed. I think getting these veterans involved with a charity like Legacy can go a long way to help with their recovery, and we need younger Legatees at Legacy.

Personally, what would you like to achieve during your time on the Forum?

I would like to give younger widows like myself a voice and an opportunity to have their say in the way DVA looks after them. I think it is also important for us to be part of the process, after all it is our future.

If you have any suggestions/problems/issues you would like Melissa to raise at the next Forum later in the year please contact her on

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