How you help Tim the Commando

From thriving to falling apart

Updated 11 Feb 2024 (first published Feb 2024)

Meet Tim Thomas, who is our dedicated hero for VIP Heroes Draw 16. Tim thrived in the elite Australian Special Forces Commandos. But after serving for six years, Tim transitioned out of Defence and felt disconnected from his civilian friends, family and started drinking heavily.

After getting involved in veteran mental health research, Tim worked with Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation to trial the RSL Queensland-funded Go Beyond program. Now, thanks to RSL Queensland’s investment in evidence-based initiatives, Tim has re-discovered his purpose and drive, and is encouraging other veterans to access available support.

The research helps sculpt programs that RSL Queensland offers to veterans like myself, to make my life and the life of those around me, better.

Life as an elite Commando

Tim joined the Australian Special Forces Commandos in 2004 as part of the first direct recruitment intake.

“There was a group of 70 civilian personnel that started the process, and there were 15 that got through. At 30 years old, I was the oldest, and, most said I was too old. Regardless, I still consider myself very fortunate to be among those 15 who successfully completed the special forces selection,” says Tim.

As well as deployments to Afghanistan and East Timor, Tim enjoyed the experience of water-based operations the most.

“My favourite part was amphibious operations. Not everyone liked the ocean; I loved it. My favourite thing about the Commandos was getting out in the water.”

Tim left Defence without admitting he had physical and mental injuries. He thought transitioning out, getting a civilian job and moving on would be straightforward. But he soon found himself drinking heavily and telling himself and others that he was ‘fine’.

“I'd say ‘I'm fine, I'm fine’. It became a management strategy of telling myself if I keep doing this job well, then everything else will be fine.”

“In Defence, when you struggle in the job, you muscle up and get the job done. You keep going, regardless.”

Tim kept himself busy but couldn’t ignore the feeling that something was missing.

“I was certainly aware of the imbalances it was causing. Things were starting to fall apart for me, and I didn't know how to express that.”

Understanding what veterans need

Looking back, Tim realises that the challenges he experienced in transitioning back into civilian life were linked with how connected he felt to Defence. And how lost he felt without those connections.

“When I left Defence, I didn’t have those connections either side of me; I was struggling. I was feeling very alone and away from the herd,” says Tim.

“I eventually realised it’s not the pain that we can’t handle; it’s the isolation and the feeling like we’re the only ones going through this.”

While working at Mates4Mates, an RSL Queensland-established veteran support organisation, Tim came across Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation (GMRF) and their research into veteran mental health.

“There’s a lot of smart people out there, but GMRF were flexible; they asked the right questions in the right language by listening to the actual person in the scenario.”

“I could see good things happening and their commitment and confidence had me on board.”

Asking the right questions in the right language

GMRF in partnership with RSL Queensland developed the free online self-directed program Go Beyond, designed to help guide veterans through their adjustment to civilian life.

Tim completed the post-transition Military-Civilian Adjustment and Reintegration Measure, or the M-CARM, and Go Beyond.

“The M-CARM gives you information specific to you about where your needs are. You don’t have to learn anything and it’s exactly on the money,” says Tim.

“And then when you do the online Go Beyond modules, they’re specific to what you need so you’re not wasting your time.”

“To me, that is so much more efficient and individualised.”

“It often says things that you can't even say for yourself; it asks the right questions in the right language to see those needs come to the surface.”

The power of connection

Inspired by the work of GMRF, Tim became a veteran ambassador for the research organisation. He now speaks about the impact that Go Beyond has had on his life to encourage other veterans to seek support, because he knows there’s power in connection.

“We can deal with anything, but we can’t deal with loneliness. We don’t want to think we’re the only ones going through it,” says Tim.

“Go Beyond breaks the isolation, and that's where I see the real power is. Because I'm not going to learn anything new while I feel alone and isolated.”

Tim has found support and purpose thanks to GMRF’s research into veteran mental health.

The RSL Art Union and your VIP Club membership make the research partnership between RSL Queensland and GMRF possible.

I want to thank the VIP Club members for their support. It’s enabling RSL Queensland to invest in research that helps the veteran community.

How your support changes lives

Our regular supporters are so important for RSL Queensland to provide much-needed help to veterans and families. The money raised helps deliver a range of impactful services and programs to help in real and meaningful ways. In 2023, 20% more veterans and families were supported by RSL Queensland’s services than the previous year, including:


veterans and families supported by RSL Queensland’s services.


claims and appeals submitted to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.


jobs found for veterans and their partners.


veterans and families housed in safe, permanent accommodation.

Frequently asked questions

How your support helps
What does my contribution to RSL Art Union go towards? 

Funds raised through RSL Art Union allows RSL Queensland to provide practical support, assistance, advice and camaraderie to current and former Australian Defence Force members and their families across Queensland and nationally.

RSL Queensland’s mission is to provide care, commemoration and camaraderie to enable veterans and families to live with dignity and respect.

For example, in 2023, RSL Queensland supported 8,411 veterans and their families with their services, found jobs for 285 veterans and their partners, and helped 202 individuals into safe, permanent housing.

You can read about our services and stories at

How can I get assistance from RSL Queensland?

Life always has its ups and downs. But as a veteran, or the partner of a veteran, you don’t have to face them on your own.

Whether you're looking for employment, scholarships, wellness programs, or assistance with DVA claims, RSL Queensland has free programs, and people at the ready, to help you achieve your life goals.

To learn more and get assistance, visit or call 134 RSL.

Our Prizes
How many prize homes do you draw each year? 

Every year we bring you 10 multi-million dollar properties, some with added gold bullion or even luxury cars. Get a sneak peak at future prizes with up to 5 games available for purchase or pre-order at any time. See the VIP Calendar for more on prize draw dates.

What are the VIP Heroes Draws?

In addition to our 10 prize home draws each year, VIP Club members have exclusive entry in two VIP-only Heroes Draws worth millions in gold bullion (subject to State/Territory Licensing approval). In other words, you must be a VIP Club member to be able to purchase these tickets. See the VIP Calendar for more on prize draw dates. Or find out about how you can become a VIP here from $5 a ticket.

How do pre-order tickets work?

Get in early and reserve your tickets before a game officially opens through pre-order. Simply add the tickets to your cart now and we won’t deduct any funds until the draw’s nominated open day. See the VIP Calendar for more on prize draw dates.

What is the Bonus Gold prize?

If you purchase a ticket book worth $10 or more in one of our 8 prize home draws, or a ticket book worth $30 or more in one of our 2 Golden Treasure prize home draws, you're eligible to win a Bonus Gold prize!

Ranging between $10,000 and $100,000 in gold bullion, the Bonus Gold prize is awarded to the first prize winner and determined by the value of their ticket book purchase.

For more information, please see the Terms and Conditions.

What happens if I win gold bullion?

You have the option of taking possession of the gold bullion or selling the gold bullion to claim its value in cash.

Please note that selling costs and market variations apply when selling gold bullion.

Can I provide feedback on the new website?

Of course! We love to hear feedback from our customers. We built our new website to cater for you and to improve the customer experience, so we'd love to hear what you think. You can provide any feedback here!

How do I find out if I'm a winner?

After each draw, we attempt to contact the winner by phone as the priority. The winning ticket number will also be posted on our Winners page, Facebook and Instagram shortly after the draw.

See our latest winner stories.

When will the details of each draw be released to the public?

Full details of our current, and some of our upcoming draws are available online – see Prizes.

For the latest draw updates, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

If you're signed up for our emails, we'll email you on the open day of each draw, giving you all the draw details and the chance to order tickets.

See the VIP Calendar for draw dates.

Do I have to pay tax on the first prize if I win?

The transfer of all our lottery prizes to prize winners is not taxable for the prize winner. There may be tax consequences for the prize winner for the ongoing use or sale of the prize. More detailed information can be found via the Australian Taxation Office.

Please note RSL Queensland is not able to provide financial or taxation advice. We advise all our prize winners to seek professional financial and tax advice to fully understand any implications.

Where are the draws held?

RSL Art Union draws are held at ANZAC House, 283 St Pauls Terrace, Fortitude Valley, QLD 4006 or as specified in the Terms and Conditions for each draw. Draw results will be published online, on Facebook and Instagram.

Are all of your prize homes new?

The majority of RSL Art Union prize homes are built brand new, while some are existing homes, expertly renovated. In both instances, RSL Queensland works closely with our accredited partners in the building industry to ensure the highest quality of standards is maintained.

Are your prize homes open for viewing?

Due to the often residential location and popularity of our prize homes, RSL Art Union has not been permitted by regional councils to conduct open homes because of the disruption to the local community.

Our prize homes might be closed to public viewing, but you can explore them in just as much detail online, any time you like! Visit our Prize page to access draw brochures, photos, videos, floor plans and virtual tours. All addresses are listed on our prize pages, so why not take a drive past and explore the neighbourhood. RSL Art Union will continue to assess opportunities to re-open prize homes to the public into the future.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Contact us