Minister for Veterans’ Affairs visits Queensland

VETERANS and their families in Queensland will have the opportunity to meet with the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester who will be hosting a series of roundtables in the electorates of Bonner, Capricornia and Petrie this week.

Mr Chester said part of the Government’s commitment to put veterans and their families first is to hear directly from the ex-service community, receive their feedback and to update them on how some of the Government’s initiatives are delivering meaningful changes.

“The Government is investing in the largest reform of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in its 100-year history and I am confident we are making great progress in improving support and services,” Mr Chester said.

“I want to take every opportunity to meet with veterans and their families to understand what we are doing right and where we could be doing more for those in the ex-service community.

Each year, the Government provides more than $11 billion for services and programs to support 290,000 Australians.”

Monday, 11 March 2019.

Commentary.

This media release appears to be an excellent opportunity for the ex-service community to attend to have their say on matters that concern them and their family. BUT on further inquiry with the office staff of both the Bonner and Petrie MPs we found that for Bonner attendance is by invitation only and their are no vacancies and for Petrie they want current serving and their families that live in the electorate.

So this Media Release which raises expectations of an open forum fails on closer examination of its reality as a roundtable by invitation to more than the ex-service community.

Minister, previous Coalition and Labor DVA Ministers have conducted open forums, will you? And Minister when can we expect to see the release of the Coalition’s 2019 Federal Election Veterans’ Policy? Hopefully earlier than the 2016 Policy release eight (8) days before the Election

International Women’s Day – Recognising Women in war time

TODAY as we celebrate International Women’s Day and recognise the achievements of all women, we pay a special thanks to those who have supported and served our country abroad and on the home front.

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Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester acknowledged the women who have served and supported Australia in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations for more than a century.
“In times of uncertainty during the First World War women stepped into roles to support those fighting on the front line by fundraising and producing packs to send to them, as well as providing medical and nursing support,” Mr Chester said.
“The Second World War saw the expansion of these roles so that women were no longer confined to nursing or voluntary positions and had the opportunity to enlist in the three service arms.
“By 1944, close to 50,000 women were serving in the military and thousands more had joined the war effort in a civilian capacity through organisations such as the Australian Women’s Land Army.
“Since then the roles available to women have expanded further and women can now apply for every position in the Australian Defence Force. For those who have served Australia, past and present, thank you for your service.”
In honour of their service and sacrifice, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has developed a radio series to highlight the enormous contribution that women have made.
“I encourage all Australians to listen out for the Women in War series on radio networks across Australia, which tells the untold stories of the vital roles played by women during wartime,” Mr Chester said.
Listen to the series on the Anzac Portal.

Friday, 8 March 2019

Media Release – Community and Peer Program to Help Vulnerable Australian Veterans

FOLLOWING the success of a two-year Community and Peer Pilot in Townsville, Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling will now roll-out their Community and Peer Program across Australia, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said today.

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“The Government is putting veterans and their families first and is committed to ensuring that they have access to the mental health support they need,” Mr Chester said.

“The primary aim of the Townsville Community and Peer Pilot was to enhance the management of complex and high-risk clients in the region, particularly vulnerable individuals considered to be at risk of suicide.

“The Pilot demonstrated that ‘lived experience’ mental health peer workers within Open Arms could enhance the management of vulnerable clients.

“Some veterans are reluctant to reach out for help because they are unable to get over the stigma of seeking professional mental health treatment.

“Peers often have a good understanding of the challenges and issues they face, and can help provide a bridge between the veteran community and professional mental health support.

“Rolling out the Community and Peer Program across Australia will provide a new pathway for clients who were previously unlikely to consider accessing or being referred to Open Arms services.

Mr Patrick McGurrin, Chief Executive of Townsville Private Hospital, said “peer support can connect with vulnerable individuals on a more personal level than traditional mental health support programs. This can result in more timely and comprehensive care being provided by specialist mental health services to those in need”.

The Community and Peer program also assists individuals and families who are currently accessing Open Arms services to connect to other services and initiatives in the veteran community. The Open Arms Peers also support a regional peer network coordinating mentoring and training for other peers working with the veteran community.

The Community and Peer Program will be rolling out to all states and territories throughout 2019.

Read More about the Community and Peer Program: visit the Open Arms website.

27 February 2019

Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant – Greater Recognition for Veterans and their Families

NEW legislation introduced into Federal Parliament will provide better recognition of the unique nature of military service and further acknowledge the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families.

The Government’s Australian Veterans’ Recognition (Putting Veterans and their Families First) Bill 2019 will establish an Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant, and as part of a wider recognition package, a card and lapel pin will be provided to veterans.

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Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said it was a project he has been working on with ex-service organisations since becoming the Minister almost 12 months ago.
The Government has introduced this legislation to provide a formal way for all Australians to show their appreciation to the men and women who secured the freedoms we enjoy today and to their families who have supported them,” Mr Chester said.
“I have consulted extensively with the ex-service community on the development of this Bill, including discussions with our 5-Eyes counterparts in the United Kingdom who have put in place similar measures.
“The covenant, card and lapel pin will allow the community — whether they are employers, businesses, community groups, veteran or sporting organisations — the opportunity to recognise the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have served our nation.
“Our government is committed to putting veterans and their families first and this legislation is part of a greater suite of measures we are putting in place.
“This Bill will create a separate Act to provide symbolic recognition for all veterans, and does not change current entitlements.
“Importantly, the Bill before Parliament includes a statement requiring the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to adopt a beneficial approach when interpreting legislation and applying a fair, just and consistent approach to veterans’ claims. It’s part of our ongoing efforts to transform the culture of DVA.”
The Government has received a positive response from businesses which are supportive of the recognition program. The covenant includes an oath, which all Australians will be encouraged to take at community commemorative events, and is underpinned by the new Veteran Card and an Australian Veteran Lapel Pin and a Reservist Lapel Pin.

More information on the Australian Defence Veterans Covenant can be found on the DVA website here

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

Virtual Reality Brings Australian Remembrance Trail to Life

VIRTUAL reality technology and stunning 360-degree drone footage are bringing the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front to Australians across the world, through an Anzac 360 app featuring interactive videos.
download 16The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, Darren Chester, today launched the new app at the Sir John Monash Centre in France.
“While Gallipoli will be forever etched in our nation’s history, it was right here on the Western Front that we suffered our greatest losses during the First World War,” Mr Chester said.
“This new app and videos, developed in partnership with News Corp Australia and produced by Grainger Films, will allow all Australians, including our next generation of school children, to experience these sites from their classroom or at home in their living room.
“Most importantly, it allows those who cannot visit these sites in person the opportunity to feel like a visitor, but at the same time inspiring others to travel over here to France, or across the border in Belgium.”
“The partnership with News Corp Australia will allow us to take viewers on a journey by exploring Australia’s story on the Western Front through a present day lens and technology.”
Eight key sites and battles are explained, highlighting the challenges our troops faced some 100 years ago, from the well positioned enemy to the tactical decisions that had to be made, or moments of bravery that resulted in a Victoria Cross.
The clips merge 360-degree aerial and ground footage from the present day with period imagery, graphics and more.
“This year we have seen our nation commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battles in Le Hamel and Villers-Bretonneux, and also mark the opening of the Sir John Monash Centre, which covers just some of the topics and sites featured in these videos,” Mr Chester said.
“I encourage all Australians to download the app and view the videos, learn more about the Australian Remembrance Trail and in doing so, never forgetting our troops and what they did right here on the Western Front,” Mr Chester said.
The app is free to download from the App Store and Google Play- search Anzac 360.

10th November 2018

Who Do You Remember During a Minute’s Silence?

IN the lead-up to Remembrance Day, Australians are being encouraged to take a moment to reflect on who they will be thinking about during the minute’s silence at 11am on 11 November and share it using the hashtag, #1MS (1 Minute’s Silence).

download 16As part of promoting #1MS, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC Darren Chester joined well-known Australians in expressing why they stop for a minute, including Cate and Bronte Campbell, Johnathan Thurston, Dan Sultan, Les Hill, Curtis McGrath and Bree Bailie, a current serving member of the Australian Defence Force.
“Remembrance Day is special to Australians, young and old, for many different reasons and sharing the stories is incredibly important,” Mr Chester said.
“I have been privileged in my role to attend several commemorative services and listen to the stories of veterans and family members, including who they are commemorating and what they think about during the minute’s silence.
“Many Australians have an ancestor or relative who has served or died in wars, conflicts and on peacekeeping operations and it is this deep personal connection that they remember.
“Others don’t have this personal connection, but stand in silent gratitude to those who sacrificed so much for our nation over the last century.”
This Remembrance Day marks the centenary of the First World War Armistice — the day the guns on the Western Front fell silent and the greatest war the modern world had ever seen was all but over.
“While this year marks this significant milestone, as a nation we need to ensure the custom of observing a minute of silence continues now and in to the future,” Mr Chester said.
“Remembrance Day is a time for us as a nation to unite in a minute of solemn respect and admiration for those who served and died in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.
“I strongly encourage all Australians to really think about why they pause on Remembrance Day, to attend their local Remembrance Day services and to stop for a minute’s silence.”

Media note
The videos will be rolled out across social media channels, including the Anzac Centenary and Department of Veterans’ Affairs Facebook pages, in the lead-up to Remembrance Day and the centenary of the First World War Armistice.
Media outlets wishing to use these videos to complement their reporting can download them on the Anzac Centenary website.

Just Ask About Your Military History. You Might be Amazed

AUSTRALIANS are being encouraged to Just Ask questions within their families and make enquiries online to see if they have a lost family connection to one of the almost two million people who have served Australia in wars, conflicts and on peacekeeping operations over the past century.

download 16Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC Darren Chester said the Anzac Centenary period encouraged many Australians to research their family history, which had uncovered for some a lost connection to the First World War.
“As time moves forward Australia continues to lose more of the original living memories of our wartime history, but uncovering the story of military ancestors is a straightforward process that can yield amazing results,” Mr Chester said.
Start by asking your oldest relatives what they know or if anyone has letters, diaries, medals or other memorabilia from a war, conflict or peacekeeping mission that could provide some clues.
“From there, it’s as simple as searching the online database of the Australian War Memorial, the National Archives of Australia, the National Library of Australia and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
“Communities should also use the valuable local resources such as local libraries, RSL branches and historical societies, which do an amazing job at documenting and preserving our history.”
In addition, if your relative was from the UK or New Zealand, you can search sites such as the UK National Archives and the NZ National Archives.

As part of the launch of the Just Ask initiative, Ancestry.com is providing 100 hours’ free access to its database from 9–12 November 2018 for people to track their family story.

“Throughout the Anzac Centenary period 2014–18, many people have found long-lost connections to the First World War, giving them a broader understanding and respect for their family history,” Mr Chester said.
I have been privileged to hear first-hand the experiences of Australians reconnecting with their family history and what it has meant to them.
“With the additional access to Ancestry, Australians will be able to readily research their family’s history and start the search for a connection to our military history.
“As a nation we need to take collective responsibility for preserving our family history and acknowledge those who have served and who are currently serving our country.
“On Remembrance Day this year, the 100th anniversary of the First World War Armistice, I encourage all Australians to buy a poppy, attend their local commemorative service, and stop for a minute’s silence.”
For more information about how to research your family connection, visit the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website.

Federal Labor’s Commitment to Defence Personnel and Veterans

A Shorten Labor Government is committed to ensuring ADF personnel, veterans and their families are supported both during and after their service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello

Over the past two years as Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel I have announced a number of policies which Federal Labor will implement if elected.

At a recent roundtable in Brisbane, a member of the ex-serving community asked for a summary document which detailed all of our achievements to date.To this end, I have developed the below document and encourage you to share this amongst your networks.

While this is a list of the policies we have announced to date, this is not an exhaustive list of the work we have done or the only policies we will take to the next election. It will be updated as new policies are announced.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you require any assistance.

Yours sincerely

Amanda Rishworth MP
Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Shadow Minister for Defence Personnel

Federal Labor’s Commitment to Defence Personnel and Veterans

A Shorten Labor Government is committed to ensuring ADF personnel, veterans and their families are supported both during and after their service.

Labor has taken a number of steps while in Opposition to support veterans and ex-service personnel including establishing a Senate Inquiry into the use of anti-malarials in the ADF and backing in calls of the ex-serving community to include the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation in the Banking Royal Commission.

In addition, we have developed and announced a number of policies which we would implement if elected.

While this is a list of the policies we have announced to date, this is not an exhaustive list of the work we have done or the only policies we will take to the next election. It will be updated as new policies are announced.

Committed to signing Australia’s first Military Covenant

A Shorten Labor Government will establish a Military Covenant which will stand as a testament to our ongoing commitment to those who are or have served our country.

This solemn promise will be signed by the Prime Minister and the Chief of the Defence Force which acknowledges the unique nature of military service. Importantly, it will be accompanied by legislation which requires Government to report regularly on how they are best meeting their responsibilities to ADF personnel and the ex-serving community. Further information can be found here.

Committed $121 million to a comprehensive Veterans’ Employment Program

A Shorten Labor Government has committed $121 million over four years to address veterans’ unemployment.

Labor’s comprehensive veterans’ employment policy has four main elements which are designed to assist veterans into meaningful employment post their time in the ADF.
Helping businesses to train veterans
By providing grants of up to $5,000 per veteran for job specific training and conducting a national education campaign on benefits of hiring a veteran
A new veterans’ employment service
The service will provide comprehensive, wrap around support for up to five years
Expanded access to additional education and civilian training
By altering the eligibility requirements and funding amounts available through the Career Training Assistance Scheme funding

Translating the experience of veterans
Will work with States and Territories, Universities and industry bodies for greater automatic recognition of skills

Our comprehensive employment will best prepare those leaving the ADF to move into meaningful employment and enable businesses to take advantage of the many skills of an ex-ADF member. Further information can be found here.

Will develop a Family Engagement and Support Strategy

A Shorten Labor Government will give families a seat at the table and a voice when it comes to the services available to them.

As recommended by the National Mental Health Commission, Labor will develop a national family engagement and support strategy which will provide a national blueprint to include engagement of DVA with military families. It will also ensure the best practice support for families of serving personnel and ex-ADF members is consistently available across the country.

Importantly, it will address the lack of engagement with families and acknowledgement of the critical role they play. Further information can be found here.

Will establish the Western Front Fellowship

A Shorten Labor Government will establish the Western Front Fellowship located at the Sir John Monash Centre in Villers-Bretonneux.

The fellowship Program will offer eligible post-secondary students a four-month placement at the new Sir John Monash Centre, representing some of Australia’s most-important history to visitors.

Fellows in the program will work full-time, and will be supported financially through a stipend wage, receive rent assistance and be partially reimbursed for their flights.

They will have the opportunity to develop and refine their expertise in Australian military history, responsible for taking tours, giving presentations, and answering questions about Australia’s military history around the Western Front. Further information can be found here.

Established the Senate Inquiry into the use of anti-malarials in the ADF

In response to the continued concerns of members of the ex-serving community, Labor established a Senate Inquiry into the use of anti-malarials in the ADF, which is currently taking evidence and due to report back at the end of November.

Labor called for the inquiry as we believed it was important to work through this issue in an open and transparent manner and provide a thorough and comprehensive report about the use of Quinoline anti-malarial drugs in the ADF. Further information can be found here.

Called for the inclusion of Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation in the Banking Royal Commission

Labor has backed in the calls of the Alliance of Defence Service Organisations and the National Returned and Services League of Australia for the Royal Commission into the misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry to include the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation.

As it stands, the CSC has been excluded from the Terms of Reference preventing current ADF members, veterans and public servants from having confidence in their superannuation fund.

Labor continues to call on the Federal Government to include CSC in the Terms of Reference. Further information can be found here.

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PM’s Media Release – Recognising and Respecting our Veterans

Veterans and their families are at the centre of a fresh package of initiatives from our Government to recognise their vital role and service to Australia.
We understand the home front is just as important as the front line.
Our Government will develop an Australian Veterans’ Covenant that will be enacted in legislation so the nation can recognise the unique nature of military service and support veterans and their families.
Like the United Kingdom Armed Forces Covenant, the Australian Veterans’ Covenant is for the Australian community to recognise the service and sacrifice of the men and women who commit to defend the nation, and pledge their commitment to support veterans and their families.
As part of this Veterans’ Covenant, a new Australian Veterans’ Card and an Australian Veterans’ Lapel Pin will make it easier for all Australians to recognise and respect the unique contribution that veterans have made to Australia and for our veterans to reconnect with others who have served.
As we have seen throughout the Invictus Games and in the lead up to the Centenary of Armistice, Australians want to acknowledge and show respect for our veterans who have given so much in their service.
Businesses, government and community organisations can also play their part in recognising and respecting those who have served. The card and the pin can help these organisations identify veterans when they aren’t wearing their uniform or medals, so they can offer discounts and extra support.
The new Card and Lapel Pin will for the first time enable everyone across the nation to recognise and acknowledge the unique nature of military service and support the more than 300,000 veterans in Australia and their families.

The Prime Minister will be writing to businesses and communities to urge them to recognise the service of our veterans.
In addition to the record $11.2 billion annual support our government delivers for veterans and their families, we will invest $11.1 million in these measures to deliver a national approach to recognise veterans and will further consult defence and veterans communities in coming weeks.
We will also deliver $6.7 million to develop the SoldierOn Fussell House accommodation facility to be co-located at the Concord Repatriation Hospital in Sydney that the NSW Berejiklian Government is investing more than $340 million to rebuild. This includes the National Centre for Veterans Health – an Australian first, state of the art centre for specialised health care for veterans.
Named for Lieutenant Michael Fussell who was serving with the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan when he was killed in action by an Improvised Explosive Device detonation, the facility will house up to 40 veterans and their families at a time and will especially benefit those from regional and rural areas when veterans are getting treatment.
Our Government will also invest $7.6 million for the Kookaburra Kids Defence Program to boost their targeted support to children of ex-serving defence force members who are experiencing mental health issues due to their service.
The Kookaburra Kids Defence Program was first supported by our government with a $2.1 million injection in a pilot program in NSW, the ACT, Queensland and the NT for 569 children, and this extra investment will see the program expand into Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia for 1,750 children.
As a country we can always do more to recognise and back in our veterans. Our government is committed to setting Australia up to support the veterans of today and tomorrow.

THE HON SCOTT MORRISON MP, PRIME MINISTER
THE HON DARREN CHESTER MP, MINISTER FOR VETERANS’ AFFAIRS; MINISTER FOR DEFENCE PERSONNEL; MINISTER ASSISTING THE PRIME MINISTER FOR THE CENTENARY OF ANZAC
JOINT MEDIA STATEMENT
Saturday, 27 October 2018