Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal : Update Unit Citation for Gallantry – Battles of Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral

This Update is provided by The Hon Jane Prentice to our RAR Corporation’s Director Trevor Dixon’s  letter of request for support.

“I write to you concerning the recent announcement by the Hon. Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Defence Personnel, about the current inquiry into military honours. As an advocate for Veterans, past, present and future, I consider the recognition of their sacrifice as paramount to the freedoms we are afforded in Australia.

Recently it has been highlighted to me that Veterans of the Battles of Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral have been campaigning for a Unit Citation for Gallantry which is yet to be bestowed upon them. In my efforts to date I have raised this issue with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence Personnel to ensure this advocacy at the very top echelons.

I am pleased that Minister Tehan has called on the independent Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal to conduct an inquiry into the deserved decoration for those involved in the Battles of Coral and Balmoral, and for those who had served as part of the Royal Australian Navy Helicopter Flight Vietnam (the RANHFV).

This independent tribunal is taking submissions from the public and will give careful consideration to both matters.

Further information regarding both inquiries is available by visiting https://defence-honours-tribunal.gov.au/

I encourage all former members and interested parties to take advantage of this opportunity and lodge a submission. Submissions are open until Friday, 16 June 2017, and can be lodged via email to [email protected] or by mail to The Executive Officer, Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal, Locked Bag 7765, CANBERRA BC ACT 2610.

When I receive any advice or information concerning this matter I will advise you further.”

 

HON. JANE PRENTICE MP | Federal Member for Ryan | Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services
636 Moggill Road, Chapel Hill, QLD, 4069 | P O Box 704, Indooroopilly, QLD  4068.
Telephone: (07) 3378 1599|Facsimile: (07) 3378 1399 |

ADF INVALIDITY PAYMENTS

The Australian Veterans Alliance have had one of their member groups working on tax issues that impact our most injured Veterans incapacity benefit’s under DFRDB and MSBS. They have asked the question of the ATO as to why compensatory payments in the form of Invalidity Benefits paid to Injured members of the ADF post discharge, were not treated the same as other compensation payments in the community with regards to taxation.

The ATO made the decision that an ex ADF member who met certain criteria, could elect to treat a Superannuation Income Stream as a Superannuation Lump sum. As a result, many injured Ex ADF members were finally able to dig themselves out of poverty and be able to afford many things the general public take for granted.

From the 1st July 2017, all of this will change. The Australian Government has repealed the legislation that brings Injured Ex ADF member’s compensatory payments in line with their civilian counterparts. From this date, these injured ex ADF personnel will stand to lose 100’s to over a 1000 dollars a month. This means these very people that signed the dotted line to protect the interests of our nation, will no longer be able to meet mortgage repayments, put food on the table or be able to survive without relying on hand outs and extra welfare that is offered via Ex Service Organisations.

With the Governments efforts in trying to combat the effects of PTSD and mental health issues, veteran homelessness, the high rate of suicide and the overall wellbeing of injured veterans and ex service personnel, it is perplexing that they are willing to strip this money from such members, potentially exacerbating the issues mentioned.

With ANZAC Day remembers those before us that made the ultimate sacrifice, the government is forgetting about the current living generation of Veterans that are doing it tough. We now have two member groups working on a range of tax issues that are currently effecting our community.

If you want to know more about the efforts of the two groups, please check out the following Facebook pages:

PETER BURNS
COMSUPER – MILITARY ENTITLEMENTS:https://www.facebook.com/groups/1098180903529690/

BRADLEY CAMPBELL
ADF INVALIDITY PAYMENT – TAXATION TREATMENT: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ 1709523469074142/

ADF Pay (Workplace Remuneration Arrangement) 2017 Update

The WRA triennial process to determine ADF pay increases for 2017 -2020 is essentially on track and proceeding as expected. DFWA provides this Update:

• It is currently at the CDF/Minister stage, so no specific details are available yet.
• We understand the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal (DFRT) will be given a progress report later in June.
• The ADF will be conducting a number of ‘roadshows’ to all major military establishments, most probably in July, to advise as many ADF members as possible details of the proposed Arrangement and give them an opportunity to comment.
• The intent is to have the DFRT consider the Arrangement prior to the expiry date of the current WRA (November 2017), with a view to having a seamless transition from the current WRA to the new WRA.

In general, the process to be followed is that the Minister for Defence will need to agree to any proposed pay offer in conjunction with the Minister for Employment, and of course the Department of Finance are involved as well.

Following the consultation phase a final decision on the nature of the Arrangement will be developed in preparation for the DFRT to consider.

DFWA as an intervener in the process,  is taking a keen interest as this matter progresses, and will continue to monitor it closely especially when the actual proposal is released.

ADF members will recall DFWA’s involvement in the development of the current WRA when it was able to provide compelling evidence to both the Government and the Tribunal of members’ dissatisfaction with the (then) offer. This resulted in reconsideration of the quantum to a higher percentage and removal of the requirement to offset it with other conditions of service.”

Justice for Trooper Donaldson ex SASR

The Royal Australian Regiment Association is delighted in the recent outcome for Trooper Evan Donaldson in the recognition of his SAS qualifications and his war service recognized whilst serving with that Regiment in Afghanistan, Iraq and Timor-Leste.

The fight to have this service recognized, which was alleged to have been criminally altered in Trooper Donaldson’s service records, has been an eight year fight by Trooper Donaldson and his wife Phoebe and sadly a slight on the system that is supposed to protect you and in particular in the sensitive role of SAS Operator.

After reviewing Trooper Donaldson’s strong and irrefutable evidence supporting his position and the flimsy and ambiguous statements and comments coming forth from Defense and their “attack dogs,” our Association decided to support Trooper Donaldson and his family in this action not only because we believed him and in the evidence presented but because as an ex serving member of 3RAR he is a member of our Regimental Family.

Everyone who has served in our Regiment and their families are assured that through our Association they will always have an attentive listener and advisor and a strong shoulder to lean on if they are experiencing difficulties. There was never a greater difficulty than Trooper Donaldson defending his service and integrity and we were very happy to provide moral support and use our influence with the authorities to address the matter.

This wonderful result then leads me into a segue where Senator Brian Burston of the One Nation Party addressed the Senate on 21st March 2017, in relation to the Rifle Company Butterworth (RCB) where lies, deceit and deceptive conduct by the Government and Defense has denied members who served over the period 1970 to 1989, their legal and appropriate recognition and entitlements. Recently declassified Top Secret documents support these allegations.

How it is in the Donaldson case and the Rifle Company Butterworth (RCB) issue, members employed by the Crown can change, adjust personal records or create false documents with the intention of misleading the electorate with impunity and arrogance?

It’s not what we expect from our elected members or employees of the Crown in any capacity and it if there were more serious consequences and exposure of these miscreants it may help to stamp out this unconscionable conduct and practice, in particular when you are playing with people’s lives and integrity and most importantly their dignity.

Well done Evan Donaldson and we will continue the fight for RCB.

Michael von Berg MC OAM

National President

22 March 2017

READ MORE

Recognition of Military Service Speech – Senator Brian Burston (One Nation Party)

In his speech to the Senate this evening  “Recognition of service rendered – justice delayed is justice denied,” Sen. Burston identified a large number of servicemen who have been denied the recognition of their service and entitlements.

He calls for an independent review by an expert panel – not drawn from government or Defence – to judiciously and diligently examine the matter using the wealth of evidence available.

He states that in 2014, “Defence directed its legal teams to go into the records and edit them to deny some of those servicemen their benefits and recognition. So, it wasn’t enough that these men went and served their country with distinction, they then had to come back and fight their employer for the recognition they so rightly deserved – all the time watching while that employer moved the goalposts.”

To the best of his knowledge, since the Korean War, the number of servicemen who have yet to be recognised for being “on active service” or “on war service” totals in excess of 20,000. The numbers include, but are not limited to:

• Navy personnel who served on HMAS Sydney taking troops to or from Vietnam.

• Soldiers from 1RAR, 2RAR, 4RAR and 8RAR who served in peninsula Malaysia between 1966 and 1969.

• Soldiers who served at Rifle Company Butterworth 1970 to 1989.

• Soldiers, sailors and airmen who served in East Timor.

There may be more.

To highlight the discrepancies, he provides one comparison of  oprational service – that of Rifle Company Butterworth (RCB)  in Malaysia with the R.A.A.F. Ubon in Thailand and Diego Garcia in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

RCB has been denied recognition of their operational role in protecting RAAF assets at Butterworth in the period 1970-1988, when Malaysia was fighting its Communist Insurgency War, and the strategic nature of its deployment. 

The issue of recognising Rifle Company Butterworth has been raised since 2006, but has been blocked by successive Governments and Defence. They refuse to consider the full evidence.

The RCB deception is now been exposed. 

The Senators full statement is available on The Senate Hansard. Download it here

See his speech here commencing at 20.40

21 March 2017

Privacy Breach – A Canadian Example

Here is a 2010 Canadian example of what can go wrong without sufficient protection and controls.

Watchdog slams ‘alarming’ breach of veteran’s privacy

NT Aboriginal leader defends January 26 Australia Day

The Indigenous daughter of a former Northern Territory government minister says people shouldn’t feel guilty for celebrating Australia Day on January 26.

Alice Springs town councillor Jacinta Nampijinpa Price wrote on Facebook that changing the date wouldn’t help Aboriginal victims of domestic violence or children who miss out on school.

READ MORE

Follow Jacinta Price on her facebook site to see that the post has reached over 3.9 million people

“Falling through the Cracks” – A Proposal to Prevent it

“Falling through the Cracks” is a Royal Australian Regiment Association (RARA) proposal to help prevent it. Have your say about it.

The RARA has been involved in many discussions on various committees through the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council (PMAC) , the Ex- Service Organisations Round table (ESORT)   DVA’s other Consultative forums , State Veterans’ Advisory Councils, with other ESO’s through the Alliance of Defence Service Organisations (ADSO) and with the serving ADF in particular serving members of the RAR, about the current separation/transition process and its problems and complexities.

The individual who discharges on medical grounds and who is already a DVA client is by all reports well catered in most instances, but not all, due to the complexities and frustrations at times in the various pieces of legislation and processes that individuals are subjected to.

But this proposal is not about them: it’s about “the gap” or as some would describe “the chasm” that exists after separating from the ADF. This affects in some cases individuals who are already DVA clients and many more who are not already, but yet potential clients.

This “chasm” is where individuals who separate from the ADF for non-medical reasons (end of career, end of current engagement contract, etc) seem to fall off the military radar and become “lost” when in later years health care is needed.

We need an “over the horizon radar” system to be able to keep track of them in case (when) they “hit the wall” in five, ten or fifteen years and experience difficulties and need help. There is sufficient evidence to support the need for a tracking system to support Australia’s duty of care to its veterans.

DVA is currently reshaping its culture, policies and internal processes to be “client centric” and efficient. This is a welcome initiative which the RAR Association and other ESOs have been advocating for many years: that the Government  must adopt a “whole of life” care philosophy for anyone who has served in the ADF in any capacity, whether deploying operationally or not which also must include our Reservists.

To be able to keep track of anyone who has served and who may experience difficulties after separation, the RAR Association has a proposal that is being put to Government which we believe will alleviate people “falling through the cracks” and will ensure that “whole of life” care protection and support is applied.

The proposal is that anyone separating from the ADF is either (1) provided with a white/silver DVA card which covers all non-liability mental health issues and substance abuse or (2) issued with a normal Medicare Card (which everyone is going to need anyway) with a clear identifier on that card that the individual is an ex-member of the ADF. With that card an individual can at any time, free of charge, present themselves to a GP or a psychologist direct to discuss their respective issue(s) and seek treatment. This through normal medical processes would ensure that all personal particulars and contact details are up to date, ensuring that DVA and other support agencies are aware where the individual is to be able to support in any way required.

It is not a “Big Brother” type surveillance that gets up the nose of a few people; it’s more a “St Vincent” to assist people who may be suffering homelessness, substance abuse and considering self-harm, or through an unfortunate incident find them incarcerated. It’s to be considered a “leg up” but we the ESO community and DVA and other agencies can’t help if we don’t know where they are.

That’s the proposal. Its cost is minimal but its benefits for the individual and support mechanisms and first responders are enormous.

Let us know what you think of it by providing supporting or other comments to the RARA National Secretary [email protected] by 17th February 2017. Thank you.

Duty First

Michael von Berg MC OAM
President
RAR National Association

Army vet Angus Sim exposes shocking truths about the DVA

  • By Ian McPhedran National defence writer
  • : News Corp Australia Network
  • August 25, 2015 10:00PM

click here for full article

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Australian Iraq war veteran Angus Sim on duty in Iraq. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

AN unofficial survey by an East Timor and Iraq War veteran flatly contradicts an official $174,500 taxpayer-funded survey by the Department of Veterans Affairs that sings its praises and claims a 90 per cent satisfaction rate.

Angus Sim claims he lost his lucrative offshore drilling job after the DVA contacted his employer to verify that he was off work and eligible for his veteran’s payment.

He had signed a statutory declaration swearing that he was off work so that he would be eligible for incapacity payments, but Canberra-based bureaucrats insisted on contacting his employer.

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Australian East Timor and Iraq war veteran Angus Sim (left) with a truck bomb that exploded near the Australian Embassy in Baghdad. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

Mr Sim suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and was so outraged by his experience that he formulated his own survey of DVA clients to find out what veterans really thought about the department that allocates about $13 billion of taxpayer dollars each year.

The results from 730 respondents bear no resemblance to the official DVA 2014 client service survey of 3000 people that showed satisfaction rates of above 90 per cent and included comments such as: “Excellent service and good communications.

“They really look after people. Overwhelming — they listen so well. It’s like a family.”

Mr Sim’s survey included 41 questions and found that between 58 per cent and 73 per cent of clients under the three Veterans Acts had spent more than six months fighting for their claims.

Between 28 per cent and 54 per cent said they were “extremely unsatisfied” with DVA’s service and just three to 10 per cent said they were “extremely satisfied”.

In one of the most disturbing findings it found that between 63 per cent and 84 per cent of clients had been given conflicting information by DVA staff.

One of the worst areas was incapacity payments where between 77 per cent and 80 per cent said DVA had caused them hardship by delaying the payments.

Between 81 per cent and 94 per cent of those surveyed supported a fresh inquiry into the DVA’s treatment of veterans.

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By contrast the official survey reported that 89 per cent of clients were satisfied or very satisfied with the service DVA provided and 90 per cent agreed that DVA was committed to providing a high quality service.

When News Corp questioned the credibility of publishing only positive comments from the survey DVA insisted that the, “comments published were demonstrative of resoundingly positive feedback received in the client survey.”

The Department refused to provide a detailed breakdown for “commercial” reasons of the age of respondents or a list of the questions asked by the survey company ORIMA Research.

In stark contrast with the taxpayer-funded official survey comments from Mr Sim’s respondents were far more damning.

Here is a sample; “They treat you like you are trying to get something for nothing and that you should be grateful for their ‘assistance’.

“Woeful at best, criminally negligent if they’re honest.

“It was demeaning and enhanced my PTSD symptoms causing my family and I huge distress.”

Quite simply, the MRCA Act (that was introduced in 2004) is not working as well as it should be for our younger veterans.

DVA CLIENT SURVEY – ANGUS SIM’S INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE IN HIS SURVEY

This is an initiative by Angus Sim, a younger contemporary veteran, to gather information from other DVA clients  that will support his submission to the Senate Enquiry into Mental Health. Please give it your support and pass to your network for their action.

Angus Sim is a 30 years old East Timor and Iraq Veteran and a DVA client. He served in the Army 6RAR from 2002 until his medical discharge with PTSD in 2006.  

From his experience with DVA he believes that too often, too many Veterans are falling through the cracks within the Department of Veterans Affairs. He contends that the system is not working for younger Veterans in particular. DVA staff often provide conflicting information, give wrong information and are not giving the Veterans the respect they deserve. At times, the DVA claims process can take months and in some cases puts undue stress on the client, especially if it is a mental health related claim, often worsening the client’s condition.

He intends to make a personal submission to the Senate Enquiry into Mental Health which will consider the mental health of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel who have returned from combat, peacekeeping or other deployment. Submissions to this inquiry close on 26 June 2015.

He has produced this survey in relation to the DVA’s treatment of its clients and invites all DVA clients to complete it. Or he invites DVA clients to log on to Facebook and visit his page called DVA Client Survey to sign up

Analyse of the survey results will reveal areas where DVA is excelling and where there is a need for improvement. He will submit the findings in his submission to the Senate Inquiry and DVA.

Watch his invitation here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TAAWISrd2E


Many of you may be making your organisations submission to the Senate Enquiry. Note the closure date 26 June 2015.
Thanks,
Ted Chitham
FGC Co-Director

P.S. The invitation is posted on the ADSO website here