Anning Continues to Fight for Veterans Covenant

During Question Time today, outspoken KAP Senator for Queensland Fraser Sen AnningAnning kept the pressure on the Government ensuring they legislated an Australian Military Covenant. Speaking afterwards, Senator Anning expressed his frustration at the apparently vague and evasive responses by the Minister.
“After my motion yesterday which called for the legislation of an Australian Military Covenant was passed by the Senate, I continued my push today by questioning Minister Payne on the Governments apparent lethargy.”
“I asked what the Government’s position was on the establishment of the Covenant; however despite the Minister making all the right noises, there was no specific commitment and only a vague reference to the end of 2018.”
“To say the least I am sceptical of her actual commitment, as the Government has had since 2015 to implement anything meaningful and so far they haven’t.”
“If we look at the situation honestly there has been ample time to consult with veterans groups and develop a Covenant which honours our social contract and moral obligation to look after our veterans.”
“It is only now after my strong and continued push along with Labors election promise that the Government is willing to do something.”
“Let’s be clear, there is no further requirement for more “consultation” or the establishment of yet another “working group.” The wording of a draft Australian Military Covenant has been provided already by the veteran’s community.”
“My supplementary question put to the Minister also asked if she was prepared to recognise a reversal of the onus of proof in veteran’s disability claims.”
“The response was not very hopeful.”
“It is very clear that the onus should be reversed and at the very least be the same level of willingness to compensate veterans as Centrelink provides to those seeking welfare,” Senator Anning said.
“As I have said before, our great nation has been built on the backs and sacrifice of our military. Now is the time to stop equivocating, dithering and playing political games. It is now the time for the government to act.”
”What the veteran community deserves is a specific commitment stating when the Government will enshrine the Australian Military Covenant in legislation. Until then, they are just honeyed words and insincere placation,” Senator Anning concluded.
14 September 2018

Katters Australian Party

RARA Comment 

We acknowledge and appreciate Senator Anning’s and  the KAP’s advocacy on veterans’ issues in the Senate.

 

Honouring Women’s Contribution to our Defence

COMMUNITY, business, political and Defence leaders have come together to honour women whose lives and families have been affected by their service with the Australian Defence Force at a Wreath Laying Ceremony and National Dinner Event in Canberra.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester paid tribute to current and ex-serving women, as well as the mothers, wives, sisters, children and widows of serving personnel.
“Women have played and continue to play an invaluable role in Australia’s rich military history, serving in various roles for more than a century,” Mr Chester said.
“The work you do paves the way for more to follow in your path and is inspiring a new generation of women to continue your strong legacy.
zoom 1“It’s especially important to commemorate those women who gave their lives in service of our country. Today we pay tribute to Norma Violet Mowbray, who served with the Australian Army Nursing Service and died of pneumonia in Egypt in 1916, aged 32.

“I also acknowledge the sacrifices that families make behind the scenes and recognise that the home front is just as important as the front line. I am in awe of the generous support the War Widows’ Guild and its many volunteers provide families throughout Australia.”

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has been a key supporter of the events and was an enthusiastic member of the organising committee led by the War Widows’ Guild.
“We are committed to putting veterans and their families first and together we can reach a better understanding of the needs of women who have been affected by Defence service.”

Labor commits to a Military Covenant

Hello

I am writing to you as the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten MP, and I have recently announced that Labor will commit, if elected, to the establishment of a Military Covenant.

This Covenant recognises the unique nature of military service and our obligation to those who serve our country and their loved ones.

When a person commits their life and their safety to the Australian Defence Force, we in turn undertake a commitment to supporting them and their loved ones both during and after their service.

A Military Covenant is a document signed by the Government and the Chief of the Defence Force which reinforces this commitment. The Covenant will be accompanied by legislation which will require regular reporting to Parliament on how the Government is meeting its obligation to our current and ex-serving defence personnel.

The Military Covenant will stand as a testament to Labor’s commitment to those who are or have served our country.

This builds on Labor’s previous commitments to the current and ex-serving defence community including our $121 million Veterans’ Employment Policy and our Family Engagement and Support Strategy.

Further information on this commitment can be found here.

In addition, as the Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, I regularly communicate with ex-service organisations and members of the veteran community, if you would like to be kept in the loop, please email me at [email protected]
Yours sincerely

Amanda

ALP Supports – Banking Royal Commission Must Include CSC in Terms of Reference

Labor has written to Treasurer, Scott Morrison and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Michael McCormack backing calls by ex-service organisation to include the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC) into the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into the misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

Royal Commission

While the Turnbull Government made it clear they wanted superannuation to be examined by the Royal Commission they have neglected to include CSC- a significant player in the superannuation sector especially for our current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.

Labor has listened to calls from the National Returned and Services League (RSL) and the Alliance of Defence Services Organisations (ADSO) who have also raised their concerns about the exclusion of the CSC from the Terms of Reference.

In neglecting to include CSC from the Terms of Reference our service men and women cannot be satisfied that CSC is working in their best interests.

If the Turnbull Government believes superannuation needs to be examined by the Royal Commission then they need to amend the Terms of Reference to include CSC.

Labor is committed to ensuring the Royal Commission delivers justice to all families and small businesses that have suffered because of the misconduct in the banking and financial services sector.

Open Letter to the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP Prime Minister of Australia

 

 

 

Dear Prime Minister,

ROYAL COMMISSION INTO MISCONDUCT IN THE BANKING, SUPERANNUATION AND FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY
Call to include the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation

The Alliance of Defence Service Organisations and the Returned & Services League of Australia, on behalf of 230,000 serving and former Australian Defence Force men and women, and their families, whose superannuation is managed by the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC) cordially pose you the question:
“Why is the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation excluded from the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry”?

CSC is the only significant superannuation entity in Australia to avoid examination with the Government claiming that it is “not only already well-regulated but is also subject to greater scrutiny and accountability than other funds by Acts of Parliament, by the Australian National Audit Office, and through oversight by a Senate Estimates process”.

Those very same ‘well-regulated’ claims were initially made as arguments against holding a Banking Royal Commission. What has transpired at recent Commission hearings starkly exposed the inability of established regulators to deal with misconduct. No misconduct is necessarily implied against CSC but what possible confidence could anyone now have that the very same or similar inability to properly scrutinise should not apply to CSC’s regulators as well.

Simply put, the veterans’ community is not convinced of assurances that CSC is as well oversighted and regulated as has been the claim thus far. As an example, if CSC always acts in the best interests of its members, what could have driven legal proceedings, self-funded by disabled individual exservice personnel as recently as last week, seeking redress for claimed unfairness and injustices.

The Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference say: “All Australians have the right to be treated honestly and fairly in their dealings with…. superannuation…. providers.”

The Defence Family of 230,000 service men and women, serving and retired, and those they leave behind, are also Australians. Why is their superannuation provider excluded from Royal Commission scrutiny? Why deny the Defence Family an equal voice in making submissions to the Royal Commission?

We urge you to include the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation in the Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference without further delay. Fairness demands nothing less!

Yours sincerely,

 

                        

 

 

Kel Ryan                                                                                Robert Dick
National Spokesman                                                           National President
Alliance of Defence Service Organisations                      RSL Australia
Mobile: 0418 759 120                                                           Mobile: 0448 889 848

Phone: (02) 6265 9530   Email: [email protected] ABN: 49 929 713 439

——————————————————————-

                  

 

RSL & ADSO Comments

The Open Letter has been sent to the PM and all Federal Parliamentarians, the Defence Family network and national media outlets.

The ALP has announced its support for our request here.

We ask your support for the CSC to be included in the Royal Commission by calling the PM (both his electorate office (02) 9327 3988 and parliamentary office (02) 6277 7700) and your local Federal member at their electorate office (details at www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members  , ideally before Parliament resumes next week 18th June or during the Parliament sittings (18 – 21 June and 25 – 28 June)
Thank you Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DVA – Assistance Dog Trial to Help Tackle Veteran Mental Health

The Federal Government is putting veterans first with an innovative trial of assistance dogs for veterans.

La Trobe University in Victoria will partner with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) in conducting a $2 million trial of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) assistance dogs for veterans, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester announced today.

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“I am pleased to announce that DVA has engaged La Trobe University, in partnership with the Centre for Service and Therapy Dogs Australia, to undertake the trial of assistance dogs for veterans with PTSD as a supplement to clinical treatment,”Mr Chester said.

La Trobe is a leader in research involving our best friend and is the home to Australia’s first dedicated human-dog interaction laboratory. Dogs are great company, good fun, loyal friends and anyone who has had a dog knows they can be incredibly beneficial for your wellbeing.

“The trial will be a considered process that takes into account the specific needs of the participating veteran – such as determining the most appropriate breed and temperament of dog, and the bonding process between the dog and participant.”

Mr Chester said work would commence on the detailed design phase of the trial, including the process for veteran recruitment. Selection of participants will commence early in 2019, with dog or puppy selection taking place after that.

“Following the matching and suitability process, there will be a period of approximately 18 months for the initial dog training and the bonding process, prior to the placement of the dog with the participant on a permanent basis. It is expected that up to 20 participants will take part in the trial,” Mr Chester said.

“Unlike pet or companion dogs, assistance dogs are specially trained to perform ‘tasks’ that contribute to the clinical recovery goals of the individual. The assistance dog will be integrated as part of a clinical care plan involving the veteran and their mental health clinician.

“Of course, throughout this trial, the welfare and safety of the veterans and of the dogs will be paramount.”

La Trobe Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Keith Nugent said that the University, in consultation with DVA, veteran mental health and industry experts, will establish and apply best practice protocols to guide the training, selection and monitoring of participants and assistance dogs.

“This world-first approach to assisting people with PTSD will see our researchers working alongside industry experts in assistance-dog training. Our students and staff will also play an integral role in this process. We expect this project to make a meaningful difference to the lives of our veterans,” Professor Nugent said.

Mr Chester said the assistance dog trial was just one of the new initiatives to strengthen the Turnbull Government’s commitment to veterans’ mental health and wellbeing.

“This trial involving DVA and La Trobe University will include consultation and the active participation of veterans through the design and delivery of this program.

30 May 2018

ADSO Comment

download 47This is a welcome initiative, long sought for by John Jarrett and Peter Wallace of Young Diggers with their Dog Squad initiative.

download 46See also Assistance Dogs International, Inc. (ADI) Setting standards for the assistance dog industry since 1987  It is a worldwide coalition of non-profit programs that train and place Assistance Dogs. Founded in 1986 from a group of seven small programs, ADI has become the leading authority in the Assistance Dog industry.

Indigenous Service Honoured During Reconciliation Week

IN recognition of National Reconciliation Week, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester has highlighted new research offering fresh insights into the personal experiences and challenges of Indigenous Australians during the First World War.


Mr Chester said National Reconciliation Week was an opportunity to reflect on the contribution of Indigenous men and women to military service throughout a Century of Service and shine a light on the unique challenges experienced by Indigenous soldiers returning from the First World War.

“Indigenous Australians have served our nation in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations since the Boer War in South Africa from 1899–1902. It’s estimated that at least 1,000 Indigenous Australians served in the First World War, despite regulations that discouraged their enlistment,” Mr Chester said.
“Indigenous men were excluded from military service in Australia until May 1917 and popular thinking is that most enlisted after this date. But new research undertaken by Indigenous historian professor John Maynard and Indigenous academic Mick Dodson suggests that the majority of Aboriginal soldiers enlisted from 1914 to 1916.
“Latest research has found that these soldiers were ‘inventive and proactive’ in finding ways to sign up. They moved to enlist from areas where they felt there was greater support for Indigenous people and they took on other racial identities such as South Sea Islander or Maori.”

The research shows that many Indigenous men encountered ‘official obstruction’ but this did not stop them from serving with courage and pride.
According to findings, the majority of Indigenous men who volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force stated they were employed as stockmen, labourers, shearers and farmhands. But there were other occupations noted, including oyster merchant, journalist, dental mechanic, clerk and plumber.
“Given they were already employed, income was not a likely reason for joining. The research suggests that Indigenous men most likely signed up for similar varied reasons as non-Indigenous men. Service was an opportunity for travel and adventure and to demonstrate their belief in the war effort and their loyalty to the British Empire.”
For those who served in war, returning to Australian society proved difficult. Based on the research, some never returned to their communities and families, preferring isolation, while others became activists for Aboriginal advancement in the 1920s or re-enlisted in the Second World War.

Reconciliation Week is an opportunity to stop, pause and reflect with gratitude on the service and sacrifice of Indigenous service men and women.

27 May 2018

Expanding Essential Services for Veterans and their Families

VETERANS and their families will have greater access to essential services with Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester introducing the Veterans’ Affairs Legislation Amendment (Veteran-Centric Reforms No. 2) Bill 2018 (VCR Bill) today.

“The measures introduced today will continue to ensure veterans and their families get the services and support they need,” Mr Chester said.
“As a government we are determined to put veterans and their families first.
“Mental health continues to be a big issue in communities throughout the country and we provide free mental health care to anyone who has served for one day in the Australian Defence Force. 

We will be establishing a new Veteran Suicide Prevention Pilot to deliver intensive and assertive management services to veterans following an attempted suicide or to those at significant risk of suicide.
“This pilot is about linking non-government and government support services to support vulnerable veterans’ and their families and will be offered at nine public and private hospitals in Brisbane.

“We want to encourage and support those studying with a view to getting them back into the workforce. This is why we will remove the reduction in the amount of incapacity payment which normally occurs after 45 weeks for those undertaking approved full-time study as part of their rehabilitation plan. This will mean veterans can focus on their study without having to worry about changes to their financial situation.”

The Bill will also enable the grandchildren of Vietnam veterans to be eligible to receive financial support to further their education through the Long Tan Bursary Scheme.
“We will continue to honour the service and sacrifice of the men and women who served our county in Vietnam by extending this support to their grandchildren,” Mr Chester said.
“Families who have suffered the tragic loss of a partner and who are wholly dependent partners of veterans will have two years to decide how to receive the compensation in periodic payments or as a lump sum, which is an increase from the current six months.
“The loss of a loved one is life changing and an incredible challenging time for any family, this change will remove the pressure to make an immediate decision so that they can make the best choice for their needs.
“This legislation re-affirms the Turnbull Government’s commitment to put veterans and their families at the centre of everything that we do.”

Other measures in the Bill will include allowing claims for compensation under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) to be made orally as well as in writing. This Bill will allow for some of the measures announced in the 2018-19 Budget to be implemented.

Budget puts Veterans and their Families First

Veterans and their families will continue to come first with $100 million in additional funding provided in the 2018-19 Budget announced on Tuesday.

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This funding is in addition to ongoing funds allocated to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). In 2018-19, this ongoing funding will total $11.2 billion.

download 16Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the additional $100 million investment will help fund the continuing reform process underway at DVA. This transformation will ensure veterans and their families receive the services and support they need.

“The Government is working hard to make sure veterans and their families can access the services they rely on more easily and faster,” Mr Chester said.

“DVA’s transformation is about not only upgrading out-dated computer systems but also looking at improving our service delivery to ensure the best possible outcome for veterans and their families.

“We’re also making sure that veterans can access DVA’s services through digital platforms and investigating new ways to reach out to veterans.”

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ANZAC Gallipoli Archaeology Database

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester today announced the Anzac Gallipoli Archaeological Database, which was created by the University of Melbourne.
“This remarkable database will add new layers of insight into our understanding of the Gallipoli battlefields,” Mr Chester said.
I commend the work of the University of Melbourne in creating this database. In particular I acknowledge the Joint Historical Archaeological Survey team who worked for many years to precisely record the details of the some 2,000 objects and features they located in their study.”
The database will be an important legacy of the work of the tri-nation Joint Historical Archaeological Survey, the Australian component of which was funded by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
“I have no doubt the Anzac Gallipoli Archaeological Database will be of great value to researchers and the broader community,” Mr Chester said
“The Joint Historical Archaeological Survey was a significant project in the Anzac Centenary, and this database will ensure the findings of the extensive fieldwork are easily accessible to all Australian, New Zealand and Turkish people.
“I encourage all Australians to take the time to browse the database and gain a deeper understanding of the Gallipoli campaign through a unique and fascinating resource.”

The Anzac Gallipoli Archaeological Database can be accessed on the University of Melbourne website.

The Anzac Gallipoli Archaeological Database (AGAD) is a unique digital archive of the results of five seasons of archaeological survey of the World War 1 battlefield at Anzac on the Gallipoli peninsular, Turkey. It includes over 2000 records of precisely documented artefacts and features from both Turkish and Allied (Anzac) areas of the battlefield and provides a unique perspective on both sides of the conflict. AGAD aims to contribute to the study of World War I through its emphasis on landscape and artefacts.

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