Appointment of New Office of War Graves Director

BRIGADIER Paul Nothard will take up the role of Director of the Office of Australian War Graves from 11 January 2019, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester announced today.

Mr Chester congratulated Mr Nothard on the appointment saying his highly experienced career as an Army officer would prove invaluable in his new role.

“Mr Nothard has more than 30 years of experience in the Australian Army with his most recent appointment as the Deputy Commander Joint Task Force 633 in the Middle East,” Mr Chester said.

“He has had an impressive military career demonstrating strategic leadership in complex and difficult environments including roles in logistics, transport operations, fleet management, career management and personnel policy. 

“Mr Nothard holds a Bachelor of Professional Studies, a Masters of Management and a Masters of Strategic Studies.

“He is a Graduate and Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is an Executive Director on the Board of the Army Amenities Fund. I look forward to working with him.”

Mr Nothard said he was excited to take up the role of Director of the Office of Australian War Graves and looking forward to draw upon his defence knowledge and experience to acknowledge and recognise those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice for Australia.

“Australia has a long-standing commitment to remembering our war dead and I am honoured to have been given responsibility for this important task,” Mr Nothard said.

Mr Chester thanked the outgoing Director, Ken Corke, for his work over the past three years.

“Mr Corke has done an outstanding job during his tenure with the Office of Australian War Graves during a very significant period leading up to the Anzac Centenary,” Mr Chester said.

“On behalf of the Australian Government and the ex-service community, I sincerely thank Mr Corke and wish him all the best for his future.”

Mr Nothard was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in 1999 and in 2008 was made a Member of the Order of Australia for exceptional service for senior officer management in the Australian Army, Commanding Officer of the 1st Combat Service Support Battalion and as the Commander of the Force Level Logistic Asset in the Middle East Area of Operations.

10 January 2019

VETAFFAIRS – Summer 2018 EDITION

The Summer 2018 issue of Vetaffairs is now available here, featuring:
• Details of the planned Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant, Australian Veteran Card and Lapel Pin announced during the Invictus Games Sydney 2018, as well as stories about the Games themselves, their legacy and DVA’s forums on families, employment and transition from defence service to civilian life.

• Reports on the Centenary of the First World War Armistice, the #1MS social media campaign, the Anzac 360 app bringing the Remembrance Trail on the Western Front to life and the Just Ask initiative to help Australians learn more about their family’s connections to service.

• Information about the new Veterans’ Employment Commitment, which will help veterans to more easily identify organisations that are committed to hiring and supporting ex-service men and women.

• Download a printable PDF version of Vetaffairs (2.7 MB). Listen to the audio version (MP3 99.7 MB), noting the large file size. 

• DVA is providing reduced services from Tuesday, 25 December 2018 to 2 January 2019. 

• DVA is on the move in Brisbane. The offices will move from 259 Queen Street to 480 Queen Street in January. 

If you are a DVA client you will automatically receive a mailed copy of the Newsletter. If not a client then Email [email protected]  to receive future issues on CD, to request an email alert when Vetaffairs is published online, or to subscribe to DVA e-news.


Operation Comapss | #CheckYourMates

https://www.opcompass.org.au/

CONNECT to others

Make the time to meet with mates, especially those you haven’t seen in a while. Connecting can be a simple as a phone call, fishing, a game of golf, morning tea, or a meal together. “Let’s catch up for a coffee or beer!” “Let’s catch up for a coffee or beer!

YARN to listen

Start the conversation to allow mates to open up about how they’ve been travelling – the key is to listen and not judge. The best way to start this process is a simple “How have you been?”

MOTIVATE to act

The last step is in some respects the most important, encouraging action and offering support to any mate you think might need it. This step can include connecting your mates with professional services.

Productivity Commission – Draft Report Into Compensation and Rehabilitation for Veterans

MINISTER for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Darren Chester today welcomed the Productivity Commission draft report of its inquiry into compensation and rehabilitation for veterans.

“The report reinforces a commitment to putting the well-being of veterans and their families first, it outlines the importance of a whole-of-life focus and it acknowledges the key role of families,” Mr Chester said.

“These are all central components of the Government’s efforts to provide the high-quality support and assistance our veterans and their families want and deserve.

“I welcome the draft report and as a Government we will carefully consider the recommendations put forward and respond once the final report has been completed.”

“A number of significant recommendations have been proposed­ — none of these have been accepted or rejected at this stage.

“This report will also help to start a conversation amongst the veteran community on the future of the military compensation and rehabilitation system in Australia, and I look forward to hearing those views. I will be conducting a series of roundtables to receive direct feedback early in 2019.

“The Department of Veterans’ Affairs is already changing for the better – under our Government.” 

The Productivity Commission operates independently, and its findings and recommendations are based on its own analyses and judgments.

The coming months will give the Government and the Commission the opportunity to hear the views from the veteran community and other stakeholders before the Commission finalises its report in June 2019.

“Our Government is committed to putting veterans and their families first and we will continue to work with the Productivity Commission and the wider veteran community over the coming months to address key issues,” Mr Chester said.

“I acknowledge the support that the Productivity Commission demonstrated in the draft report for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ transformation, under the Veteran Centric Reform program.

“This transformation has seen a number of new programs and initiatives established,including the very successful My Service platform, the digitisation of records project and general improvements with our processing systems. I am confident that we are on the right path with our transformation journey.”

Individuals wishing to view the report, or put forward their views, can do so at www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/current/veterans#draft

Is History Repeating Itself?

Who was asleep at the wheel as our nation reached out for tomorrow?

Who misplaced our compass bearings of faith, hope and many dreams?

Who masked our vision and doused our spirit for new generations to follow?

Who distorted a history of courage, endurance, sweat and unity to be seen? 

Who hindered our trek, fueled with freedom and no chains or lash to be seen? 

In our space age, we have lost direction and move at reckless speed 

So much division in our ranks, and for leadership, a desperate need 

We sip the good wines of life and ignore dark cloud heading our way

We’re already in heavy seas and true course of our journey is now astray

Fools obeying faceless leaders are now on the scene   

Bullies and agitators, just like followers of Hitler, Mao and Stalin had been 

These brown and red shirts are intent to change our ways 

For us to obey and learn a revised history will be their first order of the day

Political correctness has strangled common sense without a murmur 

Growing apathy numbs tongue and courage, and our values slip further

At sacred ballot booths, intimidation is created by local Bully Bands 

Has not blood been spilt to protect voting without fear in our land?

There’s talk of immunity from criminal charges for minors until mid-teens

While the Greens want voting age to be dropped to sixteen 

Drugs such as Ice in are clearly destroying our precious society

Yet our law makers are asleep, and drug brewers boldly run free 

What odds the ghosts of our pioneers would scratch their heads and ask why? 

Those who stood the storms of war would surely let loose with angry cry

 Politicians! Please note, lessons from apathy are readily seen in history books 

All you have you to do is to turn dusty cobwebbed pages and look

No more hypocrisy, contradictions and “perhaps” or “maybe”

Stop stumbling in darkness, and light a very bright beacon for all to see

Cease appeasing mindless thugs and do what must be done

Lead the way; give us back our way of life, or pack your swag and run

We need a brave Captain at the wheel as we reach out for tomorrow

To follow our compass bearings of faith, hope and so many dreams  

We still seek new horizons and vision for new generations to follow

On a journey fueled by blood, sweat and tears and no chains or lash to be seen

Heads up, always together; we know where we’re going and where we’ve been

George Mansford © July 2018

DVA Media Release – Investment Pays on Claims Processing Times

The 2018 Client Satisfaction Survey of more than 3000 randomly selected DVA clients, including veterans, war widows/ers, carers and dependants, found an overall satisfaction rating of 81 per cent for DVA services.

• Overall satisfaction of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) services remains above 80 per cent and satisfaction among clients aged 45-and-under is improving.
• Improvements at DVA mean around 85 per cent of rehabilitation and compensation claims are processed in one system and in reduced timeframes.
• The goal to improve the quality of service to veterans and their families by reducing claim processing times is being achieved.
download 16Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the survey results illustrate DVA’s Transformation program continues to show positive results for veterans and their families, but that there is still much more to do.
“Satisfaction for DVA clients aged 45 years-and-under is up from 49 per cent in 2016 to 56 per cent in 2018, and dissatisfaction of this group has more than halved from 31 per cent to 15 per cent for the same period,” Mr Chester said
“It also showed for clients aged 45–64 years, satisfaction has improved from 69 per cent to 72 per cent from 2016 to 2018.
“Change takes time and there may be small disruptions to services for clients, however, tracking the ongoing satisfaction of DVA’s clients through the survey is one important way to gauge the outcomes and benefits of system improvements.”
The Transformation program has an ongoing commitment and investment from Government, including more than $166 million in 2017–18 and more than $111.9 million in 2018–19.
READ THE FULL RELEASE

Opinion – France on the Frontline

Disturbing images from Paris this week show French riot police firing on anarchic protesters, the so-called “yellow vests” protesting against their government’s economic policies.
Such confronting scenes would not be replicated here – or could they?

Australians tend to be more civil in their political disputation but there now exists a level of political dissatisfaction which has been becoming more aggressive in its expression.
Given the ability for social media to inflame resentment, perhaps it is not too far fetched to suggest some people are already attempting to mobilise global support for the “yellow vests”.

‘Disheartening’: Veterans ‘let down’ by inquiry into anti-malarial drug trials

Veterans are disheartened by a Senate inquiry into anti-malarial drug trials they say have left them with debilitating symptoms for nearly 20 years.

Australian Defence Force personnel took quinoline drugs mefloquine and tafenoquine while deployed to Timor-Leste and Bougainville in Papua New Guinea between 1999 and 2002.

A Senate inquiry this year heard from veterans who have since suffered a range of symptoms including memory loss, vertigo, migraines, vivid nightmares, hearing and vision loss, irritable bowel syndrome, aggression and suicidal thoughts.

Most have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder but believe they actually have acquired brain injuries from toxicity and need rehabilitation.

They struggle to access the help they want from the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) because it doesn’t match their diagnoses.

The Senate committee accepted their symptoms were genuine in its report tabled this week, but made no findings on the causes of the health issues.

“We’re basically back to square one again,” Colin Brock, who was deployed to Timor-Leste in 2000 and served for 20 years, told The New Daily on Wednesday.

“It’s pretty disheartening.

“The government has looked like they’re doing something but it has actually, I believe, been a whole waste of time.”

An internal inquiry into the mefloquine trial by the ADF Inspector-General in 2016 found it was carried out ethically and in accordance with national guidelines.

The Repatriation Medical Authority found there was insufficient evidence that exposure to the drugs causes acquired brain injury, a finding supported by a September review by the Specialist Medical Review Council.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Report on the RARA’s 2018 AGM and National Council Meeting

The RAR Association’s AGM and the annual National Council Meeting were conducted in Townsville on 7 and 8 October. All State and Battalion Associations were present. It is interesting to note that the Associations which represent the Battalions no longer on the Order of Battle are generally still strong (2/4 RAR, 4RAR, 5/7RAR, 8 RAR and 9 RAR).

Mike von Berg is the Chair of the National Board and the Directors are Ted Chitham, who is also our hard working secretary, Hori Howard, Pat McIntosh, Trevor Dixon, who is our web master and Phil Thompson who represents our young volunteers. Mike and Phil were re-elected for a further three year term.

It was noted that the RAR Association is highly regarded in national circles. Mike is a member of the Ex Service Organisations Round Table (ESORT) which advises the Federal Government on veterans’ policy. He is also the ESORT’s representative on the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee on Mental Health and has recently been appointed to the Strategic Governance Board of the Advocacy Training and Development Program (ATDP) .Phil Thompson represents us on the DVA’s Younger Veterans – Contemporary Needs Forum (YVF) and Clem Russell, our national pensions and compensation advisor, is a member of the DVA Operations Working Party.

Guest speakers were The Hon Darren Chester, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Minister for Defence Personnel, Minister assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC and deputy leader of the House, Major General Mark Kelly, who is the Repatriation Commissioner as well as the Colonel Commandant of the Royal Australian Regiment and Ms Liz Cosson, the new Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. They updated us on what is occurring at national level within the Government, DVA and the Regiment.

Some significant items were:

  • A veteran is now someone who has served for one day.
  • A White Card medical treatment card for mental health issues is now available to anyone who has had one day’s full-time military service.
  • DVA now has details of all those who have served. This will permit quicker responses to claims.
  • 40 medical conditions have been added to the list which requires no additional evidence during the disability claims process.
  • VVCS will be renamed “Open Arms” which is expected to emphasise that it is open to all.

All Associations presented their reports. The main theme was the need to attract younger veterans to our associations. It was reaffirmed that our policy is that those leaving the service should as a matter of priority join their Battalion Associations, but if there happens not to be an active Association in their home state, they should join the State Association so that they can still continue to be members of the RAR family. It was also confirmed that those Associations which had close links with the serving Battalions were the strongest. This is seen as the best way to get through to those leaving the service. RARA support is available to all who have served in the Regiment and their families.

The Queensland Branch of the RAR National Association which manages the RAR National Memorial Walk, presented their report on the RAR Memorial. The Walk, which is located within Enoggera Barracks, is an outstanding tribute to our fallen. It is maintained by RAR volunteers, the Queensland Branch of our Association and serving units from 7 Brigade . The Walk is well worth a visit to anyone who is in Brisbane but patience is required to gain entry to Enoggera Barracks due to the current security level.

There were many items on the RARA’s NCM agenda including the following:

  • Suicide and self-harm – critical group assessment and assistance.
  • Homeless veterans – solutions.
  • Future of the National Memorial Walk.
  • The future of advocacy including delivery.
  • The Productivity Commission inquiry into DVA.
  • Indexation of pensions and superannuation.
  • Incarcerated veterans. Statistics and support.
  • Defence or partnership hub test for those leaving the ADF.
  • Soldier Recovery Program.
  • Transition of ADF families.
  • Conditions of Service including the Workplace Remuneration Arrangements.
  • The need for a Military Covenant between the Government and the ADF.

Issues which were reported on and  discussed included the following:

  • The status and future of the upgrading service at RCB to warlike service.
  • RAR MIAs from the Korean War.
  • The need for a day to commemorate the service of contemporary  veterans.
  • The award of a medal for those wounded in action.
  • The need for our Associations and members to provide feedback on matters requiring advocacy.
  • The need for Associations to be active in the social media space.
  • Mental Health- transition – suicide – employment.
  • Well-being.
  • Veterans Support Organisations “fostered” by the RARA

With the Federal election not too far away we will be working to put together a short list of key issues which we alone and with The Alliance of Defence Service Organisations (ADSO) will put forward to the major parties. We will engage with our Associations in this task and we will ask that they will join us in putting them before their local candidates.

Just some of the contemporary issues are:

  • The exclusion of  the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (trustees of our military superannuation schemes) from the Royal Commission into misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial services industry.
  • The fact that TPI and Special Rate disability compensation payments have not kept up with the cost of living.
  • Superannuation matters including Fair Indexation for all military superannuation payments, MSBS portability and access to employer benefits, removal of MSBS Maximum Benefit Limits and DFRDB Commutation
  • Mental health and Veterans’ suicide.
  • Transition including employment post military service.
  • Support and care for members and former members of the ADF who were involved in the Quinoline anti-malarial drug ‘trial’

The importance of communications in achieving our strategic directions (outlined in our Road Map) was a major topic for discussion. The key priorities determined were to open up membership to all former and current members of the RAR and their families and to enable a simplified, seamless, digital communications network that will allow us to engage with our members.

The weekend was rounded off by a visit to 1 RAR where we witnessed an imaginative program designed to improve marksmanship and urban warfare tactics.

The 2019 meeting is planned for Adelaide.

 

 

We did it!  Final concept plans for Oasis revealed…

Well we did it!

Working closely with the Queensland Government (Coralee O’Rourke, our State representative for Mundingburra, in particular) and Counterpoint Architects for the past 6 months to perfect the master plan, we now have a clear way ahead.

The step up from just refitting an old DPI building to redesigning the entire 5000m2 block and saving significant money by incorporating half the current building and preparing a master plan for growth of The Oasis Townsville is gold!

In February we’ll complete the detailed design and we’ll start demolition and construction after the potential wet season (fingers crossed we get one!). It’s been a bit tricky working with bureaucracy and politicians not to get ahead of government decision making and financial approvals and information dissemination but your patience has been rewarded.
Thanks to everyone involved.

John Caligari
Executive Officer

READ MORE HERE