We’re changing our name to Open Arms

The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service known as VVCS, is changing its name.

From October 2018 the service will change its name to Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling.

Although our name is changing we will continue to provide professional, military aware, support to all current and former serving ADF personnel and their family members.

Free and confidential counselling to support your mental health and wellbeing is available 24/7. We also run group programs and suicide prevention training.

To find out more just call 1800 011 046.

If you would like to know more about our exciting change please visit VVCS.GOV.AU.

Frequently asked questions

What is your new name?

As of October 2018, VVCS is operating as Open Arms, with the tagline veterans and families counselling.

The new branding also acknowledges that VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam Veterans.

Our name is changing but our phone number and professional service are not. We continue to provide free and confidential support to current and former ADF members and their families 24/7 on 1800 011 046.

Why change the brand?

Our organisation provides counselling support to veterans and their families when they need it most. But unfortunately, other than existing clients, many people who could greatly benefit from our services do not know who we are or how we can help.

Research showed that our previous name, which was regularly shortened to an acronym, was unclear, and the branding was uninviting, and not well recognised.

This new brand is an opportunity to better represent what we are all about with a fresh look that is more meaningful and recognisable, at a time when we are expanding the group of people who are eligible to use our services.

What does the new Open Arms logo represent?

Open arms are a very powerful symbol of support, safety, and security, particularly for Vietnam veterans, spent long periods in the jungle during the war.

Their lifeline was the Huey helicopter, which they would call to either take them out to safety at the end of an operation, or to provide critical supplies, like food, water, or ammunition.

But to let the pilot know where to land, one soldier had to stand in a field with open arms, completely vulnerable.

Our new logo reminds us of those brave soldiers, while also representing so much more about those who serve—families welcoming soldiers home, land crew directing planes, and, of course, our policy to welcome those who need support with open arms.

Who decided to change the name and brand?

In 2017, the VVCS National Advisory Committee—which includes representatives of our key stakeholders—recognised that to better promote the valuable services we provide, we needed a more recognisable and memorable brand. Based on their advice the then Minister for Veterans Affairs, tasked the National Advisory Committee with overseeing the development of a new name and brand for the organisation.

How did you arrive at this new brand?

The new name and brand were developed based on market research and extensive consultation with Vietnam veterans, current personnel, reservists, partners, families, contemporary veterans, and peer network advisers across Australia.

The results of the research were presented to the National Advisory Committee who unanimously agreed that the name Open Arms, and the tagline veterans and families counselling best represented our important work.

Isn’t this change going to make it harder for people to find support? How will people know it is the same service?

Targeted promotion will let our main clients and stakeholders know about the change. This will include direct communication, advertising, editorials, videos, and a new website.

As our new brand is more recognisable and clearly represents what we do, we expect that, over time, it will better connect with potential clients, so that increasing numbers of people will contact us to get the support they need.

About Open Arms

What is Open Arms?

Open Arms (formerly the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service) has been the cornerstone of the Australian Government’s veteran mental health support for more than 35 years.

We are a nationally accredited mental health service, which provides 24-hour free and confidential counselling to support the mental health and wellbeing of former and current Australian Defence Force personnel and their families.

Since 1982, we have provided more than 1.6 million counselling sessions to more than 300,000 veterans and family members—27,000 of them in the past year alone. This support has included almost 98,000 face-to-face counselling sessions and 6,300 after hours phone counselling sessions, right across Australia.

What services does Open Arms provide?

Open Arms offers:

  • counselling for individuals, couples, and families
  • case management for clients with more complex needs
  • group programs to treat issues like anxiety, anger, pain and trauma
  • after-hours telephone counselling
  • information, education, and self-help resources
  • suicide prevention training
  • crisis support
  • referrals to other services or specialist treatment programs, as needed.

Who is eligible?

We recently expanded eligibility for our counselling and support services. If you have served or are currently serving in the ADF, you and your family members can use Open Arms.

How much does it cost?

All of the services available through Open Arms are completely free for eligible clients.

Where is Open Arms located? Can I get face-to-face counselling where I live?

We have offices in every capital city and several regional centres. For other locations, services are delivered through a network of professional outreach counsellors or through online options.

Is it confidential? Will anyone be able to find out I have contacted Open Arms?

Our support and counselling services are completely confidential.

Your clinical information will not be released to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, or anyone else without your consent.
The only exception is when required by law, such as where your safety or the safety of others is at serious risk, in serious criminal matters, or in response to a court direction.

Open Arms is bound by the Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Privacy Principles. For more information see our privacy policy (RTF 1.1 MB).

How do I get support?

To get support or to find out more, call 1800 011 046.