Information Benefit for ADF, DFWA and Ex-service men and women in SE QLD and Northern NSW

Australia Zoo to give something back to Veterans and ADF members as part of Federal MP’s initiative

As we celebrate Veterans Health Week, Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace has announced a collaboration with Australia Zoo which will see current and former ADF personnel  enjoy a free visit to the popular tourist attraction.

Dubbed the Sunshine Coast Veterans Day, Mr Wallace has worked with local veterans groups and with the Zoo to make entry to Australia Zoo free for card holding veterans and current ADF personnel as well as their partners on 11 October 2018.

Mr Wallace said “Our service men and women put their lives on the line to keep Australians safe. We all owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude, and I am determined to do what I can as your Federal Member of Parliament to give something back. We know that getting out and doing something fun with mates who understand your service can make a big difference to the mental health of current and former service men and women. That’s what Sunshine Coast Veterans Day at Australia Zoo is all about.”

Veterans and current personnel will simply have to show their ADF ID, White or Gold Card to get free all day entry to the Zoo. Australia Zoo is one of the country’s best known wildlife attractions, with more than 1,200 animals and a wide variety of exhibits and experiences to enjoy.

Wes Mannion, Director of Australia Zoo said “Australia Zoo has a long history of supporting our veterans and their spouses and we’re looking forward to welcoming our local service men and women and giving them a great day at the biggest and best wildlife conservation facility in the entire world!”

The initiative is part of a series of activities Mr Wallace has pursued on the Sunshine Coast to support local service men and women. These include his Sunshine Coast Veterans Forum, held in August with Senator Jim Molan, and his Fisher Defence Industry Initiative which, among other objectives, aims to generate greater employment opportunities for former service men and women through the development of a local defence industry. Mr Wallace has also advocated in Canberra for additional Commonwealth support for former ADF personnel to undertake tertiary education.

Mr Wallace said “We have 15,000 veterans living here on the Sunshine Coast, and as a community we should do all we can to show them how much we value their contribution. I am very grateful to Australia Zoo for coming on board and demonstrating how committed they are to our local community and to honouring our service men and women. I can’t wait to meet many more of them on the day.”

For more information, contact the Office of Andrew Wallace MP on (07) 5493 5556 or [email protected].

John Lowis
President
Defence Force Welfare Association (QLD Branch)
Victoria Barracks Brisbane

Chester Media Release – Accessible mental health support for veterans

THE Government today acknowledged the release of two reports from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) — the 2018 update on the Causes of death among serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel: 2002–2015, and the National suicide monitoring of serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.
download 16Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the latest findings show those who choose to serve in the ADF are, on average, healthier than the general community. However, the findings also highlight the need to support the mental health of veterans, particularly those under 30.
“Our Government is putting veterans and their families first,” Mr Chester said.
“We are committed to supporting the physical and mental health of veterans and these reports provide a valuable contribution to our understanding of veterans’ health.
“We have taken significant steps in recent years to increase mental health support to our veterans, and our priority now is to enhance support to veterans during their transition period.
“Our Government provides more than $11.2 billion each year to deliver services and programs to support 290,000 veterans and their families, with $200 million spent on mental health alone.”

Eligible transitioning ADF members now automatically receive a DVA Health Card – Specific Conditions (White Card), which can be used to access treatment for any mental health condition, regardless of whether or not it is related to their service.
“This builds on the 2018–19 Budget measure, which expanded mental health treatment to eligible current and former Reservists without the need to link this condition to their service,” Mr Chester said.
“ADF personnel who receive a White Card for mental health treatment will not be required to make a claim with DVA to get treatment for mental health conditions—they can simply use their card to access treatment.”

women veterans anzac day 255661 1524533230888 main.640x0cADF veteran, Kellie Dadds who has been deployed eight times says the support will be valuable.
“This initiative will be welcomed by veterans who are transitioning from the ADF as it is another step easing the transition process. Knowing this support is available when required is pleasing and will ensure that veterans get treatment early should they need it,” Ms Dadds said.

Current and former ADF members transitioning to civilian life also have access to a comprehensive one-off health assessment with their general practitioner (GP).
“From 1 July 2019, all those leaving the ADF will be able to access an annual comprehensive health assessment by a GP for the first five years after they discharge,” Mr Chester said.
“This is a $2.1 million commitment from government and will assist in the early detection and treatment of mental and physical health concerns during transition to civilian life, addressing a high risk period for the emergence of mental health conditions and suicide.”

Mental health treatment provided through a White Card can include: consultations with a GP; psychiatrist; psychologist; mental health social worker or mental health occupational therapist; specialist PTSD programs; subsidised pharmaceuticals required to treat a condition, and hospital treatment. Health assessments can be accessed with a Medicare card.

Former ADF members who have already transitioned to civilian life can still access DVA funded treatment for any mental health condition through the use of a White Card by emailing the Department at [email protected]or calling 1800 555 254.
Eligible transitioning ADF members will receive their White Cards in the mail.

21 September 2018

The Australian – Closure now closer for families of Australians lost in Korean War

A long-awaited agreement with the US to identify Australian war dead from the Korean conflict has finally been signed, boosting Canberra’s case to join the Americans in recovering the remains of missing soldiers and airmen.

Families of the 43 Australian servicemen still listed as missing in action in North Korea applauded the memorandum of understanding, which came as South Korean President Moon Jae-in ­arrived in Pyongyang for crucial talks with Kim Jong-un.

The MOU between the Australian Defence Department and the Pentagon was first mooted in 2011 to establish a framework to share DNA and other identifying information in case a repository of remains held by the US military in Hawaii contained those of Australians killed in the 1950-53 war.

Progress stalled 11 months ago after a draft of the agreement was settled, frustrating relatives of the Australian MIAs as the final text bounced back and forth between Canberra and Washington.

Ian Saunders, the point man for the families whose father is among the missing, said the agreement could provide a basis for Australian investigators to gain access to suspected burial sites should the North Koreans honour their word and let Americans in.

“There have been breakthroughs before but this is the ultimate to date in terms of getting identification of the remains,” said Mr Saunders, 70. His father, Private John Saunders, was reported missing, presumed killed, in January 1953 in a fierce clash between Australian troops and Chinese regulars on the North Korean side of what’s now the demilitarised zone that divides the peninsula.

Mr Saunders, who turned five the day after his dad went missing, said: “The MOU is a big step forward for us. It’s the green light to pursue things more actively.”

Korean Veterans Association of Australia president Tom Parkinson, who was in the line to the left of John Saunders’s battalion at the time he went missing, insisted the families of the MIAs deserved to bring them home. “It’s long overdue that there is some sort of … finality,” he said. “And none of us are getting any younger.”

The Australian government approached the US to piggyback on its deal with the North Koreans after Donald Trump tied the return of remains to his offer to ease crippling economic sanctions on the rogue state if Kim gave up his nuclear arsenal. Confirming the MOU, a Defence spokesman said last night it formalised long-standing arrangements between the US and Australia to share information on war dead.

Mr Moon’s three-day trip to the North Korean capital is the first by a South Korean leader in a decade but his third meeting with Kim this year, raising hopes they can revive a peace process that looks to have stalled after the hype of the June breakthrough with Mr Trump faded.

The Australian MIA families were advised by the Army’s Unrecovered War Casualties Unit this week that the MOU had been signed by the US Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency, cementing a close relationship over Korean War dead.

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Mr Parkinson, 85, still has raw memories of the night Mr Saunders’ father went missing at the foot of Maryang San, the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting involving Australians. He was a young machinegunner in 1RAR, dug in alongside John Saunders’s battalion, 3RAR, when the 25-year-old private was killed on January 25, 1953. He was one of six who died when a 31-man patrol led by Lieutenant Geoff Smith ran into a concentration of Chinese troops. The officer was among the presumed dead; another seven Australians were taken prisoner.

Mr Parkinson lost friends at Maryang San, a bitter battle for a hill about 2km inside the North Korean DMZ. In July 1952, Lieutenant Laurie Ryan of 3RAR was reported killed alongside two his men, but Mr Parkinson heard conflicting accounts of what had actually happened.

Mr Saunders said he was con­fident his father’s grave would be found if investigators were ­allowed into North Korea.

Jamie Walker, Associate Editor
19 September 2018


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.

download 16

“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