RARA Qld E News – 5/2019 December 2019

President’s Message

President Photo

We have had a busy period since the last ENews, some good and some sad.
Remembrance Day at The Walk and Contemplation Building for the last eleven years has been one of the highlights on our calendar. We host the Year 6 Class from McDowall State School (136 pupils) for a Remembrance Day Service. I say it is a highlight because since I have been involved with The Walk over the last seven years I have been involved with Ted in hosting the teachers and students.

Part of their curriculum is the study of Australian History which includes our involvement in all wars. Their enthusiasm and knowledge is amazing and they appreciate the chance to be able to visit The Walk and understand the meaning of Service and Sacrifice.

Conversely, only a few people turned up for the 1100 hour service. Other units within the Barracks are now conducting their own service. As a consequence, one of my targets for 2020 is to encourage greater attendance at both the Remembrance Day and the ANZAC Dawn Service at the Walk.

We are well advanced with transitioning from RARA Old to The Royal Australian Regiment National Memorial Walk Association by 1st January 2020. My Management Team of Greg Decker, Phil Challands, Peter Brennan, Trevor Pond and Ted Chitham will implement the transition until the end of the 2019-2020 financial years. At that time the RAR Corporation Board will decide from the applications received, appoint the Manager of the NMW entity.

On a personal note this year I have written a Concept Paper on the History of Infantry in Australia from our first deployment in Sudan to the present time. It covers our Colonial Forces, our Militia and the formation of The Royal Australian Regiment.  The paper is aimed at teaching the soldier/junior officer our proud history and achievements and lays a platform for all NCO/Offr to gain information to pass on to the soldier.  Our Head of Infantry has approved its distribution.

The sad news is that we lost a soldier and a proud member of the Regimental. Many of our comrades have passed on but this bloke had a special place in my heart – Alan Norcott aka Corncob. My appreciation of him is recorded later in this News.

At this Christmas/New Year holiday season I wish you and your families the compliments of the season. And remember to ask your mates RUOK

The National Memorial Walk

Remembrance Day Service – McDowall State School

Appreciation from David Pedwell, Deputy Principal McDowall State School.

“The staff and student of McDowall State School thank the Royal Australian Regiment Association for hosting their visit to the National Memorial Walk. This is a valuable experience for the students. They learn a lot as you can see from some of their reflections that I have included in the attached letter of thanks.”

McDowall State School – National Memorial Walk – Remembrance Day 2019

Thank you for spending your own time showing us the
amazing people who die protecting our beautiful
country that we are lucky to be living in now. Looking
through the gardens makes me feel grateful of what
those men and women have done. In the future on
Remembrance Day I would take a walk through our
country, be silent, and then say we will remember
you. Bailee

The Walk of Remembrance was a great excursion but a serious one as well. I really enjoyed hearing about what happens at the army barracks and looking at all the memorials of fallen soldiers. I think planting a tree for every man and woman that died in a war is a very respectful and nice action for the families of those soldiers. 6C3 is very thankful for having such a pleasant opportunity to learn about the wars and mottoes of the army barracks. Braedon

The walk of remembrance was a very touching excursion, showing us the amount of lives lost in certain battles. My favourite area we went to, it would have to be just the overall commemoration of the soldiers that meet their demise away from home. I learnt that the soldiers died not in vane as they sacrificed being with their loved ones to protect what was important to them. Having known they protected their country and the future generations meant our country could thrive and live on in peace. Thank you for your service. River W

Thank you for letting the whole of Year 6 come to this special commemoration. I felt sad looking through the gardens of soldiers who have passed helping our country. My favourite part was walking up and down and seeing some of the soldier’s favourite things lying against their post. I hope Remembrance Day is a special day forever. Thank you for making it possible for us to come to your wonderful place. Sincerely Indiana

Thank you so much RSL for organising for McDowall to go to the memorial. I learnt so much at the barracks. Without you, this would not be possible. When I walk through the gardens, I felt really sad for all the people that fought for our country. Thank you so much again for making this possible. Max

It is my pleasure to thank you welcoming us to the Enoggera barracks to learn and commemorate Remembrance Day. Seeing the names still being commemorated to this day, really touched my heart. Preston

Thank you to the people who gave us a trip to the barracks and thank you for the service you gave at the start. Benjamin When I was walking through the garden, what I felt was a deep, sad feeling that would never be forgotten. Brynley I think planting a tree for every soldier that died in battles is a very respectful and nice action for the families of those soldiers. Tanish

Dads’ Army

Dads’ Army continues to keep the Walk in good shape while Margaret Devereux continues to provide her gourmet cakes and biscuits and the lads go about their tasks without supervision. Ken Cupples is so well programmed that he still appears to assist us

Getting ready for the transition is well underway in the documentation field with the assets register and projects schedules being updated. There will be no change to the operations of Dads’ Army with necessary approved support from the designated RAR resident Battalion. Our sincere thanks for their support.

During the “official” Christmas break there will be some stalwarts who will continue to closely maintain watch over the Walk, essentially to keep it watered.

The Walk is a showpiece included on the itinerary of visiting military dignitaries and in 7 Brigade’s Orientation Program for senior school students considering a military career. We provide an Escort from one of our team (Dave McDonald, Ted Chitham, Glenn Willman and Alan Price) for these “show and tell” visits.  The visit has been extended by the students working on NMW maintenance tasks.

Weekly Event. Every Monday 6.00 – 9.00 am Dad’s Army at the NMW. All welcome

30 Dec 19 – Kilcoy Racing

04 Jan 20 – Kilcoy Races

17-19 Jan 20 – 8/9 RAR Association Camp Out

20 Jan 20 – NMW Commences

28 Jan 20 Kilcoy Races – Australia Day

03 Feb 20 – Flag Pole Service NMW

07 Feb 20 – Rifleman’s Lunch Mooloolaba

10 Feb 20 – NMW Orientation Day

27 Feb 20 – Long Hai Day visit to NMW and 8/9 RAR

28 Feb 20 – Long Hai Day Service at Tweed Heads

02 Mar 20 – Flag Pole Service NMW

06 Mar 20 – Rifleman’s Lunch Mooloolaba

THE PASSING PARADE OF WARRIORS – THEIR DUTY DONE

Our Country is in mourning, for
A SOLDIER DIED TODAY

August- November 2019

Alan Norcott – 6 RAR, 8 RAR & 8/9 RAR

Peter Madden – 6 RAR

Robert “Bob” Powell – 3 RAR

Bill McDonald – 2 RAR, 4 RAR & 9 RAR

Brian “Father” Bourke – 6 RAR

Lyndon Bolton – 9 RAR

James Saxton – 4 RAR

Harry Brayley – 2/19 INF, 1 RAR

Geoff Thomas – 6 RAR & 7 RAR

Phillip Gould – 2/4 RAR, 9 RAR, SASR & 1CDO REGT

Wally Buckland – 6 RAR

Tim Fischer AC – 1 RAR

Clifford Bruce Cornish –   RAR

Jim Townley – RAA

A Warrior’s Farewell

Go now and travel beyond the void
Seek the green column and when you meet
See once more those smiling faces
Hear again laughter and sounds of marching feet

No more the visions of the bloody past
Gone are the nightmares and lingering pain 
Soon you will be home at long, long last 
United with fallen comrades once again 

And when the final roll is called
Another page of history complete 
You will rest with brave spirits such as they
In a camp where you will find restful sleep

Go swiftly now and seek your past 
Your duty done for all to tell 
With pride of who and what you were 
And now we bid you a fond farewell

George Mansford – December 2007

RARA Qld – End of an ERA

As we close this chapter of the RARA’s history we look back to recognise and appreciate the contribution of those men and women who made the RARA Qld the leader and custodian in the formation of the RARA National Memorial Walk, the National Secretariat of the combined RAR National Associations (State/Territory and Battalion Associations) and ultimately today’s RAR Corporation

In 1968 the GOC Northern Command Maj Gen F G Hassett called a meeting of all serving and past serving RAR members living in South East Qld to be held at the United Services Institute building in Victoria Barracks Brisbane. The purpose of this meeting was to establish the amount of interest there was in forming a “Royal Australian Regiment “Association.

He spoke of the associations formed by Infantry units after WW1 & WW2 and stressed that the time was right for the RAR to do the same, and to be able to march behind our own banner on occasions such as ANZAC Day. Those present agreed.

Maj Gen Hassett appointed a steering committee (Maj David Kayler-Thompson, Maj Bill Chitts and WO1 “Tiny” Dugan) to ascertain the feasibility of forming such an organization.

The steering committee reported that it was feasible and desirable.

An implementation committee was appointed whose initial members were Maj Kayler-Thompson President, Maj Bill Chitts, WO1 “Tiny” Dugan & WO1 Sammy Beam   Fees were set at $5.00 per annum for ordinary members or a “Life Membership”for $15.00.

The roles of the Association developed over the years are:

  • to provide camaraderie with social activities for the members and their families;
  • to commemorate RAR unit battle honours and preserve the memories of those who died on overseas service;
  • to provide an advisory and delivery pensions and welfare support service; and
  • to protect our members/families service entitlements by representation where necessary to the Government and relevant authorities.

Highlights of RARAQ history include:

  1. The construction of The RAR National Memorial Walk in 1996 and from that the volunteer maintenance group known as Dads’ Army.
  2. The establishment and operation of a Federal Secretariat in 2007 for the combined RAR State/Territory and RAR Battalion Associations, specifically to advocate as the RAR united voice of our RAR Family to the Government for their well-being and protection of their service entitlements.
  3. In 2009, the establishment from the RARA National body to the Royal Australian Regiment Corporation with the same roles.
  4. The establishment of ADSO in 2010 with other major ESOs to advocate with one voice to Government for the Defence Community’s well-being and protection of their service entitlements.
  5. In 2017 the unveiling of the RAR Memorial in Ferguson Park Samford Rd Enoggera. BCC approved the Park to be jointly named The Royal Australian Regiment Place

The success of RARAQ  is the result of the dedication of many people (men, women and their families), too many to name in this brief article, who selflessly volunteered themselves to fill many of the roles on management committees, maintenance groups such as Dads’ Army, special projects and our representatives on Government Committees.  But here are some named:

Presidents: David Drabsch, David Kayler-Thompson,“Tiny” Dugan, Scruffy McGovern, Ray Towie, Neil Eiby, Alf Handley, Ted Chitham, Kel Ryan, Alf Vockler, Neil Weekes and Dave McDonald

Secretaries: Sammy Beam, Ron Organ, Ken Dunn, Neil Bremner, Allan Whelan, Rick Hollingdrake and Greg Decker.

Treasurers: Sammy Beam, Kiwi Gibbons, John Stevens, Ron Goodall, Phil Challands and Trevor Pond

NMW: Mick Servos, Murray Blake and his Committee (Laurie Hall and John Carauna), Kiwi and Margaret Gibbons, Paul Gallagher, Peter Brennan and Theresa Muggeridge

Other Notables: Darcy Dugan, Rod Slater, Ken Cupples, Padre Gary Stone, Ron and Jerry Woodrow, Barry Stalder, Arthur Willemse just to name a few

Women: Margaret Gibbons, Barbara Handley, Patricia Eiby, Gail Dugan, Margaret Devereux, Selma Cupples to name a few.

The Regiment: The RAR Council (all Battalion COs and RSMs) and particularly the  resident Battalions in Gallipoli Barracks 6 RAR and 8/9 RAR

We thank all those named and un-named who have contributed to the success of our RARAQ Association and for their dedication to service and sacrifice for The Regiment, Australia and our people and to Keeping the Regimental Spirit Alive. You are true exemplars of the Regiment’s motto DUTY FIRST

We ask for your contribution to continue with our new entity dedicated to the promotion and maintenance of The Royal Australian Regiment’s National Memorial Walk.

This brief article will be expanded on and become registered with the RAR Bibliography to be part of the Regiment’s recorded history.

A tribute to the volunteers of The Royal Australian Regiment Association – Still Soldiering On in Mufti

“Soldiering is a life experience and for most never to be forgotten. From the very moment that the oath is sworn, you are for the time being, just another unfortunate creature whose mother sold you to the military for a silver coin. 

What the recruiting sergeant conveniently did not mention is that a total and rigid obedience to military regulations was obligatory.

          Incredibly as each uncoordinated group experienced the wrath of instructors at varying level of rank, slowly and surely the rabble became a team with instinctive obedience to all commands

          Military history records the deeds of units in both peace and war yet often fails to recognize those who made it so and the powerful spirit of unit pride and mateship which old soldiers carry to the grave and perhaps beyond.  Such spirit and loyalty to unit did not just happen, but began with the very first shrill bark of command by a non- commissioned officer.

          In time, with hard and demanding training, strangers became friends and then comrades. Individual views and uncoordinated action were transformed into a team with clear purpose and action.

          No one can determine exactly when the precious brother and sister hood arrived to embrace both unit and regiment. However, there is no evidence whatsoever it came to be with a wave of a General’s baton or a space age politician making promises.
 

          What we do know is that the military family gathered strength with each demanding challenge and recognition of achievements in peace or war. We do know the demands of high standards were met, and with it came even more confidence, battle discipline, individual and collective pride. With all of these assets was the most valuable legacy of the ANZAC spirit.

          It is not surprising that as each column converts to mufti, there are many volunteers who continue to shepherd the thinning ranks with sharing and caring and reminding society of who and what they still are.
 

          Thus my compliments to all volunteers of all military associations and in particular those I have seen at first hand being The Royal Australian Regiment Association (RARA), The Australian Training Team Vietnam Association (AATTV) and 51st Battalion , Far North Queensland Regiment Association”

Old Soldiers Never Die

Time has aged those who once wore the proud badge of the Roo

The gaps in the ranks of old warriors are more than a few

Gone the spritely step and strong pulse beat

No more the singing round campfires on readymade seats

Yet still the memories of roll calls for so many brothers

Still young soldiers at heart, so ready to help each other

Beat the drums and sound the bugle call

All for one and one for all

Soldiers grow old yet always a powerful regimental spirit is there
 Thanks to volunteers who are seen to be everywhere

They’ve traded rifle for names and addresses of mates in strife

No need of compass to find the home of a widow, once an army wife

Work parties maintain walls with proud names of fallen to be seen

Reunions, charity, funerals and telling school kids what ANZAC means

Beat the drums and sound the bugle call

All for one and one for all

In turn, each generation of the Regiment marches on and on

Until at last it blurs and fades on distant horizons and is gone

In each passing column, volunteers step forward to seize the flame

Dressed in mufti, armed with pen and phone, are on duty again

Old and new sentries have changed and the relief is complete

With mateship, sharing, caring, and despite weary shuffling feet

Beat the drums and sound the bugle call

All for one and one for all

George Mansford © December 2019

Check your Mates

Please check your mates as a standard procedure. There are some who find it difficult to cope due to a number of factors, mainly they are alone so reach out to a mate and ask RUOK:  one phone call can make a huge difference.

The Operation Compass program has proven to be very effective, Check it out and see their videos here

Note that the RARA supports Trojans TrekVeterans Care,Overwatch Australia and Survive to Thrive

DVA – Men’s Health Peer Education (MHPE) Magazine — Vol. 18 No. 2 2019 — Mental Health Edition

Overview: Inside this issue: PT with the Governor-General of Australia, Gardens, great for the soul and body

Insomnia – There’s a reason why you can’t switch your brain off at night

Do you ever wake at night and find yourself worrying about life and trying to problem-solve issues, unable to get back to sleep? We now know what’s happening in your brain to cause it.

RAAF’s secret drone selection criteria

It has been revealed [to me in a vision] that the Royal Australian Air Force’s selection criteria for its new armed drones included…

Read More

Former Army officer appointed AWM Director

Former Army officer and diplomat Matthew Anderson will replace Brendan Nelson as Director of the Australian War Memorial.

Read more

READ RSL NEWS ONLINE

Edition 4 of Queensland RSL News can now be read online:

  • 20 years of peace in Timor
  • Meet our refreshed Executive

Explore the Barracks – gates thrown open for family fun day

READ MORE

FINDING VETERANS A PLACE TO CALL HOME

Safe, permanent housing is one of our most basic needs but sadly, some veterans are lacking just that.

Whether couch surfing, living in your car or living rough, we can help you find a place to call home.

Since launching in late 2017, our Homelessness program has helped 130 veterans find secure, stable accommodation.

LEARN MORE

NATIONAL ADVOCACY NEWS

The RAR Corporation (RAR Association National), advocates to Government to protect the service entitlements and well-being of the Defence Family (current and past serving military persons and their families). It does this directly in its own right as well as through the Alliance of Defence Service Organisations (ADSO). By being represented on the PM’s Advisory Council on Mental Health PMAC (Mike von Berg), DVA’s ESO Round Table (ESORT) (Mike von Berg), the Younger Veterans Forum (YVF) (Phil Thompson) and the Operations Working Party (OWP)(Clem Russell) we have direct input into DVA.

Visit the ADSO website here

SIMPLER ACCESS TO MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR VETERANS

https://rarnational.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/DVA-62.jpg

VETERANS who currently have to pay for their medical treatment upfront and wait to be reimbursed will only need to present their Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) health card to pay for their treatment under changes to the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) passed through Parliament yesterday.

Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said around 4000 MRCA veterans and their families would benefit from the change, which is part of DVA’s transformation program to make processes faster and easier for veterans and their families to gain access to the support they need.

OMBUDSMAN’S INQUIRY INTO DFRDB COMMUTATION DECISION – APOLOGY BUT NO COMPENSATION

The Ombudsman’s office (11th December) released a Media Statement on the outcome of his inquiry into DFRDB Commutation. A copy of that Statement and the Ombudsman’s Report is here.

Ministerial Statement

The Government acknowledges the release of the Commonwealth   Ombudsman’s independent investigation into the Defence Force   Retirement and Death Benefits (DFRDB) scheme. The Government   listened to the concerns of the ex-service community in initiating an independent review of the DFRDB scheme, which focused on the accuracy of information provided about commutation by the Department of Defence (Defence), the Australian Defence Force (ADF) or the scheme administrators, such as the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC).

While the investigation found that some information provided by Defence in the 1980s and 1990s regarding commutation was incorrect, the Ombudsman concluded that the decision to commute was, and still is, the more financially beneficial option.

READ THE APOLOGY

ADFRA’s DFRDB UPDATE – September 2019

The Australian Defence Force Retirees Association (ADFRA) acts on behalf of Defence Force retirees and their military superannuation grievances. DFRDB […]

RCB Recognition – Update 5/2019: From Deception to Exposure – 2020 Action

This month we saw the 30th Anniversary of the end of The Malaysian Counter Insurgency War (1968-1989) and early next year the 50th anniversary of the initial deployment of a combat infantry rifle company to protect the RAAF assets at Air Base Butterworth against the communist insurgent threat.

It’s almost 14 years since the RCB Review Group formally exercised it’s  fundamental right to the truth and contested the Government’s decision that RCB service was unwarlike  similar to peacetime garrison duty in Australia . It that time despite the overwhelming evidence discovered under FOI which revealed a deception and that the RCB RG has been denied a fair and just process that has been well documented and begs the question of a breach of the PM’s Ministerial standards.

READ MORE

Kilcoy Diggers

Thus far, it’s been another successful and satisfying year, providing support to Kilcoy Race Club. The Xmas Cup meeting on Saturday 30 November was a great success with the new ($1M) facilities completed that will be envied by all other Tier 2 SEQ race tracks.

At this latest meeting we again saw three grass track trotting/pacing races, the only place in Queensland where this occurs.


As well as the major race days on a weekend, Kilcoy Diggers also provides limited support to mid-week meetings when entry is free.

These events are also a great social picnic day opportunity to experience. So in the New Year get your social group together and come enjoy the experience

Here is the KilDigs dressed for their support activities

Back R L to R : Arthur Willemse, Phil Wolfenden, Glen Willmann, Terry Dex, Rod Slater, Lou Kucks, Barry Shipway,  Uncle Noel  Des Prien
Front Row L to R: Michael Van Brough, Ross Wyatt, Kim Morgan, Julie Slater, Ron Wyatt

YULETIDE FESTIVAL OF RACING AND PACING

From Con Searle, President                                                         
“Kilcoy racing officials have introduced exciting new concepts for the Yuletide Festival of Racing and Pacing. Following the unveiling of a brand new cafeteria and attractive improvements to the betting ring and surrounds late last month, the Kilcoy Race Club will stage its first standalone harness meeting on Monday December 30.

Also, Athletics officials have embraced the inaugural running of the $5000 Kilcoy Gift, a professional sprint over 120 metres to be staged on Australia Day. There will be four heats early in the day with the final to be run late afternoon. Bookies will bet on all events.
“We hope this event will become the Stawell Gift of Queensland,” “This first running will be a highlight of what we hope will be a family

day. It’s a Sunday and it will be free entry for kids who no doubt will be interested in the mini-trot races which are run between the gallop races.”

The Yuletide Kilcoy racing gets under way on Friday 20TH December with free entry for a seven event TAB meeting followed by the all trots meeting ten days later.

The New Year gallop meeting of eight events will be held on Saturday January 4. National and international television coverage of this meeting will no doubt attract favourable comments on the lush state of the turf track. “We are blessed to be allocated 140,000 litres of treated water daily and even through the drought of recent months the Kilcoy track has been bright green,”
“I’m really excited by the package of racing and entertainment we have programmed over the Festive season and on to Australia Day. The Somerset Regional Council have been wonderfully supportive of all the events staged at the Kilcoy racecourse including the annual Show and polocrosse matches.”

Note that Con is a great supporter and benefactor of the RAR National Memorial Walk

Honorary Life Member – Ken Cupples

For his outstanding service over a long period of time to the RARAQ and particularly the National Memorial Walk, Ken has been granted this honour. Congratulations from all to our senior active 92 years young Ken Cupples


Westfield’s North Lakes Qld Local Heroes 2019 – Glenn Willmann

Westfield announce its 120 Westfield Local Heroes for 2019. In March, their communities across Australia and New Zealand told them […]

READ MORE

Christmas Blessings and a Happy New Year

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot. Happy New Year.”

STAY IN TOUCH

To stay current with RARA events and actions that may affect you and your family we suggest you frequently visit our RARA National website and RARA facebook site and our own new NMW web and facebook sites

The Enews is issued quarterly. Give us your suggestions for content and improvements and send articles for publication to Ted Chitham  [email protected]  

Duty First

24 December 2019

Group programs for the veteran community

Open Arms group treatment programs focus on addressing mental health problems commonly experienced within the veteran community. These programs include:

  • Doing Anger Differently
  • Recovery from Trauma
  • Understanding Anxiety
  • Managing Pain
  • Sleeping Better
  • Beating the Blues.

Our educational workshops focus on suicide prevention or on skill-building to promote resilience. The suicide prevention workshops are for people wanting to learn how to recognise that someone is struggling and how to help them to get support. These workshops include

  • Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST)
  • Suicide Alertness for Everybody (safeTALK)
  • Mental Health First Aid (MHFA)
  • ASIST Tune-Up.

The resilience and skill-building workshops are particularly useful for veterans and families during transition periods in their lives and include ‘Stepping Out’, parenting, stress management and mindfulness workshops, as well as half-day information sessions on chronic pain, anger, managing anxiety and recovering from trauma.

The Open Arms group program and workshop calendar is planned six months in advance and the most recent version can be found at www.openarms.gov.au/get-support. If there is enough interest in a specific area additional workshops can be organised.

If you want to talk to a counsellor, or find out more about our services, Open Arms’s free and confidential telephone line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 011 046.

DVA services during the holiday season

DVA will continue providing support to veterans and their families during the holiday season. However, please be aware that some services will be impacted from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day inclusive.
The News and Updates page on the DVA website provides details about services available during the holidays, including information on counselling, mental health, transport bookings for medical treatment, Defence Service Homes Insurance, hospital admissions, pharmaceutical approvals, and pension and incapacity payments. VAN offices, General Enquiries and Open Arms centres.


Open Tender for Psychiatric Assistance Dogs for Veterans

Chester

MORE veterans seeking to manage their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will benefit with the expansion of the Government’s psychiatric assistance dog program.
Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said following the successful launch of the program in September there had been increased interest from the ex-service community and organisations passionate about supporting veterans’ mental health.
“Veterans have told me about the benefits of an assistance dog in managing their mental health in a positive way — this is real action that responds to the needs of veterans,” Mr Chester said.
These dogs are matched with veterans and are trained to notice signs of distress and perform specific actions to ease the symptoms of PTSD. For example, waking their handler experiencing a night terror or nuzzling their handler to distract them.
“By expanding the panel of providers, more veterans will be able to access a psychiatric assistance dog to assist them in managing their PTSD, reduce isolation and give the veteran a chance to improve their mental health and wellbeing.
“I encourage those organisations who train assistance dogs and who are passionate about supporting veterans’ mental health to review the open tender and submit an application.”

Founder and Director of Training of Smart Pups Patricia McAlister said she has been working with and training dogs since she was 10 years old and after seeing the difference an assistance dog makes, she has made it her mission to train more of them.
“Since being announced as one of the first two providers of psychiatric assistance dogs I have interviewed a number of veterans who are delighted and excited about Smart Pups working with them to provide a dog that will suit their unique needs,” Ms McAlister said.

“Veterans and their families give so much for our country and I am proud that Smart Pups is able to support them, and their families, by providing them with a dog that will have a profound effect on their everyday lives.”

Interested providers should have access to qualified and registered mental health professionals with experience in working with individuals with PTSD and who can advise on all aspects of partnering veterans with psychiatric assistance dogs. For more information on the requirements and guidelines of the open tender or to apply, providers are encouraged to visit the AusTender website.

Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling, provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or
visit www.OpenArms.gov.au

Veterans currently seeking treatment for PTSD are encouraged to speak to their mental health professional in regards to gaining access to a psychiatric assistance dog, or for more information visit the DVA website.

DVA Media Release Tuesday, 26 November 2019

FUNDING FOR ORGANISATIONS TO SUPPORT OUR VETERAN COMMUNITY

VETERANS and their families across Australia will be better supported thanks to more than $875,000 in community grants aimed at improving veteran health and wellbeing.

 Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said 68   projects will receive funding under the Veteran and Community   Grants (V&CG) and Men’s Health Peer Education (MHPE) programs.
 “These grants will support veterans and their families by providing funding for activities and services that promote healthy and good quality lifestyles,” Mr Chester said.
Due to the overwhelming number of applications under the V&CG program, we have provided additional funding through the MHPE program for this round, with successful projects supporting the veteran community by encouraging involvement in community activities and physical activity, which in turn enhances mental wellbeing.”

The V&CG program supports organisations by providing funding for projects that sustain or enhance the health and wellbeing of the veteran community. The MHPE program has a range of similar outcomes and therefore additional funds could be sourced.
“The Federal Government is committed to putting veterans and their families first and through this round of funding we are able to recognise a range of local activities and services that will support the veteran community in living a healthier lifestyle,” Mr Chester said.
“Congratulations to the community and ex-service organisations that will receive funding to deliver activities and services to support the veteran community.”
To find out more information visit the Veteran and Community Grants program page on the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website or visit the Community Grants Hub.

5 September 2019

Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling, provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au

‘I have known utter despair’: Thousands of veterans on wrong level of benefit, say advocates

Thousands of defence force veterans are likely on the wrong level of benefit or are missing out on injury payments they are entitled to due to the complexity and difficulty of dealing with the claims system, according to leading lawyers and advocates.

As the federal government prepares to respond to a damning Productivity Commission report into the $13 billion-a-year compensation system, veterans and those assisting them with claims have raised concerns about vastly different payments for similar or identical injuries, depending on which Act they apply under.

Currently, depending on injury and the timing of their service veterans can be compensated under the Veterans Entitlement Act, The Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act. Different levels of compensation also apply depending whether their injury occurred during war or war-like service.Thousands of defence force veterans are likely on the wrong level of benefit or are missing out on injury payments they are entitled to due to the complexity and difficulty of dealing with the claims system, according to leading lawyers and advocates.

READ MORE of this Canberra Times article dated 10 August 2019

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Statement from Liz Cosson AM CSC Secretary Department of Veterans’ Affairs 

Liz Cossons

“In response to today’s media reporting claiming DVA is outsourcing its compensation claim process, I offer the following statement, attached talking points and background to why we have placed a forward notice on the AusTender site. This is a public site.

Contrary to media reports, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) is not and will not be outsourcing the decision-making process for veterans’ claims.

The proposed tender, details of which are available on the AusTender website, addresses a number of recommendations including the need to assist veterans who submit claims by securing medical evidence in a way that assists in getting faster decisions.

These recommendations have come from:

• Senate Inquiry – The Constant Battle: Suicide by Veteran

• 2017-18 Australian National Audit Office – Efficiency of Veterans Service Delivery

  • The 2019 Productivity Commission report.

Through the proposed tender, DVA is seeking to identify a more efficient and effective way to gather this medical evidence, in order to facilitate the timely determination of compensation and rehabilitation claims. In some circumstances, DVA may need to approach a medico-legal provider for an assessment and report. This may occur if:
• the veteran does not have a treating doctor, or where there is insufficient or conflicting information
• the treating doctor cannot or will not provide the required evidence or cannot provide it in a timely manner
• a subsequent report still does not meet the diagnostic criteria
• a report is deficient in some aspect and a report from a further medical professional is required for the purpose specified in the referral.

This department is committed to putting veterans and their families first, including by changing the processes within DVA to drive more effective and timely claims processing, greater support through the claims process, and more positive outcomes for our veterans and their families.

The forward notice of the proposed tender, published on 29 July 2019, requests interested parties complete a survey and provide a range of information including, but not limited to, information about their organisation, their approach to the tender, and what information they would need from DVA to complete the tender.”

ADF Retirees Association – DFRDB Update – June 2019

The Australian Defence Force Retirees Association (ADFRA) acts on behalf of Defence Force retirees and their military superannuation grievances.

Related Article: 50,000 veterans fired up over pension ‘shortfall’ The Australian 28th June 2019

Hi All, We assume that most of you are aware that the Commonwealth Ombudsman decided to commence an investigation into the administration of the DFRDB scheme with respect to commutation.

Today (27 June 2019), we as in Herb and Roz Ellerbock (our driver), Christian Bennett and I met with the Ombudsman’s investigation team.

Unfortunately, the Ombudsman himself, Mr Michael Manthorpe PSM, was called to Adelaide on short notice by the Attorney General, but the whole investigation team, including its team leader Paul Pfitzner attended the meeting.

Herb delivered this very powerful and compelling presentation (click to open – allow a bit of time for it to load). Some of the visual effects are lost in this PDF version but the content is clear enough.

Those who still believe that Commutation Payback is the most important concern that we should be addressing should take a close look at this presentation.
Our meeting was scheduled for one hour and lasted one hour and forty-five minutes. Some of the matters raised in Herb’s presentation were clearly outside of the stated scope of the investigation but at no point did the investigation team give us any impression that any of the matters we raised were out of bounds.
Many of you completed the questionnaire and submitted other relevant details of your circumstances.

Paul Pfitzner advised that by close of submissions they expect to have received some 3,000 completed questionnaires, the analysis of which would be a significant task, requiring the employment of 2 or 3 additional staff. Their aim is to provide an outcome as quickly as possible but under no circumstances would that be at the expense of thoroughness.

Paul committed to providing updates, as and when they could, containing advice that was not of a prejudicial or preemptive nature.

Thank you again if you made the effort of completing the questionnaire or making a submission. The sheer diversity of content already say much about how well we were advised.
Again, if you are not already a member then please go to our
web site and register. We will represent your concerns. If you are already a member, please encourage others to join.

Regards,

Herb Ellerbock & Jim Hislop

ABC News – Veterans put ‘through a lot of hoops’ in bid to claim compensation, minister says

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) has been “too adversarial” when it comes to handling the compensation claims of former defence personnel, Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester says.

Key points:

  • Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester says his department “has been guilty of being too adversarial” over compensation claims
  • Mr Chester said the culture in the department has been improving
  • He said he would act upon a recommendation to from a cross-party group on veterans’ mental health issues

Mr Chester made the comments to 7.30 after holding a summit in Canberra about veterans’ mental health on Wednesday.

The department has been criticised by veterans, their families and even the Productivity Commission, which said in a draft report that the compensation claim process for veterans was not fit for purpose.

One mother of a veteran who committed suicide started a petition on Change.org, which received more than 220,000 signatures. As part of the petition, she called for a royal commission into the rate of suicide among veterans and accuses the DVA of treating veterans poorly when they make compensation claims.

“I believe in the past that the DVA has been guilty of being too adversarial in terms of whether it’s protecting the public purse or putting veterans through a lot of hoops,” Mr Chester told 7.30.

He said the culture in large organisations was difficult to change but that the DVA was making progress.

“The changing culture now is around taking a more beneficial approach to the veteran or their family in terms of providing those support measures. So I think there has been improvement, I think there’s real progress here,” he said.

“The feedback I’ve received from the key ex-service organisations in about [the] 15 months I’ve been in the role is that they are seeing improvements, and they want to see us keep working with them to bed down even further improvements in the future.

“The DVA has to win back the trust of Australian veterans and their families and the service community more generally.”

Cross-party group to be set up

Darren Chester addresses the veterans summit in Canberra

PHOTO: Darren Chester addresses the veterans summit in Canberra. (ABC News)

Mr Chester said he would act upon a recommendation from the summit to contact MPs from all parties with military experience to form a group that will look at veterans’ mental health issues.

When it comes to a royal commission, Mr Chester said “all options are on the table”.

“But what I’ve been saying also quite clearly is, in about four or five days’ time the Productivity Commission is going to give me a report, which it has been working on for the past year,” he said.

“I understand it’s a 1,000-page report, looking at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and making sure it’s fit for purpose for the next 100 years.

“That needs to be worked through as well.”

Discovering ‘why these people have been doing nothing’

Jesse Bird posing in army camouflage with gun

PHOTO: Jesse Bird’s claim was rejected by DVA. (Supplied: Karen Bird)

In 2017, 7.30 reported on the case of Jesse Bird, a veteran of the Afghanistan conflict who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Bird took his own life after his claim for permanent impairment was rejected by the DVA.

He died at the age of 32 with just $5.20 in his bank account.

Mr Bird’s stepfather John told 7.30 his file shows his pleas for help were not taken seriously.

“He had his rejection papers prominently displayed along with a lot of other paperwork that he’d had to endure with the DVA,” he told 7.30 in 2017.

Mr Bird’s mother Karen Bird said her son had been pushed into a corner and could not see any other way out.

“He was my first-born son and I don’t have him anymore,” Ms Bird said.

Since Mr Bird’s death there have been major changes inside the DVA and the Government is spending $230 million a year on veteran mental health.

John McNeill, a volunteer who devotes his time to helping veterans navigate the complex claim system, wants a royal commission because of the failings he saw first-hand with Mr Bird’s case.

“The same story has been said over and over and over again about what needs to change. Now it hasn’t,” he said.

“So I believe the royal commission would find out why these people that have been entrusted to be the voice of the veteran community are sitting back and doing nothing to help until the spotlight is shone on them.”

Hundreds of suicides

Warrior's Return collates statistics on suicides by veterans

PHOTO: Warrior’s Return collates statistics on suicides by veterans. (ABC News)

An official estimate records more than 370 suicides involving current or former defence personnel since 2001, with one volunteer group called Warriors Return keeping its own figures on suicide by veterans across the country.

Their research shows there have been 16 suicides this year alone, with 48 last year, 86 in 2017 and 80 in 2016.

But Brian Briggs, a military compensation lawyer with Slater and Gordon, argues against a royal commission.

He believes the money could be better spent fixing problems which are well known.

“I think the money would be more wisely spent elsewhere in providing services to the veterans and to the veteran community, not on having numerous lawyers appearing before the royal commission and spending $80 to $100 million, which is only going to lead to further delays,” he said.

“We already know what the issues are, what they need to do is get things happening and happening fast and happening now.

“All this money that’s being put in, what are the results? That’s where we need to sit back and see what is producing results and what isn’t working — and what isn’t working should be shut down.”

RELATED STORY: Man warned Veterans’ Affairs he could become suicide statistic days before death

RELATED STORY: DVA head offers apology after policy changed to thwart compo claim

RELATED STORY: ‘Bureaucratic bastardry’: DVA secretly changed rules to deny veteran’s claim

If you or anyone you know needs help:

ABC News – 27th June 2019

A Current Affair – Our Forgotten Heroes (Cont)

Julie-Ann Finney says the Navy deserted her son Dave, and it cost him his life.

We’ve been following her campaign for a Royal Commission into the crisis affecting our veterans.

Today, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs held a special summit at Parliament House in Canberra.

Watch the video report here

26th June 2019