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November 21, 2013
A NEW Australian play called The
Long Way Home will explore what it's
like to serve in the ADF and how the
lives of servicemen and women change
forever as a result of being wounded,
injured or becoming ill in service.
The ADF is presenting The Long Way
Home in partnership with the Sydney
Theatre Company, providing an opportu-
nity for Australians to consider the past
decade of ADF operations and pay trib-
ute to the sacrifices made by so many in
service to our country.
During August and September, 15
servicemen and women spent five
weeks working with the Sydney Theatre
FSGT Tony Benfer, who lost his lower
right leg when struck by a hit and run
driver in 2007, was among the workshop
As part of a rehabilitation and recov-
ery program, the ADF personnel shared
their experiences on operations and the
events that changed their lives
Award-winning playwright Daniel
Keene has translated their stories into a
The participants in the program are
a mixture of ranks and have served in
Afghanistan, Iraq and East Timor. Their
military service ranges from two to 30
years and they each carry some scars
from their experiences, including various
physical and psychological wounds.
CDF GEN David Hurley said The
Long Way Home presented an exciting
opportunity to tell the story of ADF mem-
bers' experiences on deployment and on
"Their stories will resonate with all
service personnel and provide families
and the Australian community with a
unique insight into our war experiences,"
GEN Hurley said.
According to Director General ADF
Theatre Project BRIG Alison Creagh, all
servicemen and women and their families
will be able relate in some way to the
experiences and challenges depicted in
"Everyone returns from operations as
a different version of themselves -- some
are faced with significant changes and
challenges as a result of being wounded
or injured," BRIG Creagh said.
"The themes explored in The Long
Way Home will resonate with all service
personnel, regardless of their background,
rank or service, and will provide fami-
lies with a deeper insight into what it's
like for their family member, mate or
colleague on operations."
As the ADF draws down in
Afghanistan, the casualties of this war
may not be as obvious as they were in
"Many of our wounded, injured and
ill ADF personnel have invisible injuries,
both physical and psychological," BRIG
"A passer-by on the street may notice
someone with a scar or a limp, but they're
unlikely to think that person may have
been wounded in Afghanistan -- even less
likely when the injury is invisible."
She hopes the play will raise aware-
ness within Defence about the impor-
tance of ADF personnel talking about
their injuries and illnesses, and seeking
"The men and women participating in
The Long Way Home have stepped out of
their comfort zones and shown immense
bravery by exposing difficult and vulner-
able aspects of their lives," she said.
"I hope their bravery and honesty will
encourage others who are injured or ill to
seek medical assistance.
"I urge all ADF members to buy a
ticket to the play and pay tribute to the
sacrifice made by so many."
Project patron and Victoria Cross
recipient CPL Ben Roberts-Smith said
by sharing their powerful and moving
accounts of war "these courageous ser-
vicemen and women will help create and
perform a compelling theatre production
telling the story of more than a decade of
Theatre project hits home
THE first performance of The Long Way
Home is in Sydney on February 7 with
opening night on February 8.
This will be followed by a national tour to
Darwin, Brisbane, Wollongong, Townsville,
Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.
Due to the production's limited season,
Defence members are encouraged to book
early to secure tickets.
For more information, visit www.syd-
ROAD TO RECOVERY: ADF personnel, including FSGT
Tony Benfer (inset, centre), participate in a development
workshop at the Sydney Theatre Company as part
of a rehabilitation program that involves creating the
production The Long Way Home. Photos: AB Nicolas Gonzalez
MOTIVATION: Project patron CPL Ben Roberts-
Smith chats with workshop participants.
These courageous servicemen and women will help create and
perform a compelling theatre production telling the story of
more than a decade of Defence operations.
-- CPL Ben Roberts-Smith, VC recipient and ADF Theatre Project patron
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