Opinion – When Australia Punched Above its Weight


ONE hundred years ago in Paris, the victorious allies were negotiating a treaty to formalise the armistice declared on November 11, 1918. The Little Digger, PM Billy Hughes defended our diggers’ sacrifice.


PM Billy Hughes with Aussie Diggers

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Poem – Of God and Soldiers

Many would say that this poem is a true reflection of how God and Soldiers are valued today:


Yet this poem was written nearly 400 years ago by Francis Quarles in his Divine Fancies (1632) ‘Of Common Devotion’

Media Statement – ADSO Policy Objectives 2019-2022

The Alliance of Defence Service Organisation (ADSO) welcomes the opportunity to announce its core Policy Objectives as a timely reminder to those seeking election to the 46th Parliament of Australia that the veterans’ community, speaking largely with a single voice, continues to seek redress of a series of key grievances, many of which have been outstanding for far too long.

Some issues have been the subjects of unfulfilled promises, not the least of which includes the inability to provide Australia’s most disabled Veterans and their families with an adequate standard of living.

kel

In commenting on the Objectives and encouraging all sides of politics to find legislative ways to redress each issue in turn, ADSO’s National Spokesman, Kel Ryan, wished to acknowledge that the Government, with the Opposition’s support, had taken action on a long-held key Objective, namely to legislate an Australian Military (Veterans) Covenant that gives formal recognition to the Unique Nature of Military Service. The Covenant has passed in the House of Representatives. Senators in the next parliament will have the honour of debating the important Bill and giving effect to it in law.

ADSO also wishes to support the outstanding initiatives that established ‘The Oasis Townsville’, a long-held aspiration of the Townsville ESO Community to have a single hub to which all veterans and their families could go, to be then referred out to the services available from the other ESOs in the area. The ‘Oasis’ is a model concept that could in whole, or in part, be replicated in other parts of Australia. ADSO wishes to congratulate all involved.
The Oasis is reflective of the collaboration that is possible between Ex-Service Organisations to help each other to achieve outcomes for a common cause; to have a shared focus on supporting serving and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force; to make the lives of these men, women and their families better, healthier, happier and more rewarding.
16th April 2019

ADSO comprises:
The Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA), Naval Association of Australia (NAA), RAAF Association (RAAFA), Royal Australian Regiment Corporation (RARC), Australian Special Air Service Association (ASASA), the Australian Federation of Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Ex-Service Men and Women (TPI Fed), the Fleet Air Arm Association of Australia (FAAAA), Partners of Veterans Association of Australia (PVA), Royal Australian Armoured Corps Corporation (RAACC), the National Malaya & Borneo Veterans Association Australia (NMBVAA), Defence Reserves Association (DRA), Australian Gulf War Veterans Association, Australian Commando Association (ACA), the War Widows Guild of Australia (WWG), Military Police Association Australia (MPAA), the Australian Army Apprentices Association (AAAA), the Women Veterans Network Australia (WVNA) and the Combat Support Association (CSA).

Federal Election 2019 – ADSO Policy Objectives

We’re back and ready for action.
At Election time the Government, all Parties and Pollies are accountable to the Australian people for their past performance and we veterans individually assess the impact of their election policies on our Family and the Nation’s future prosperity. The lead up to the Election is the time when Interest Groups such as ADSO have the best opportunity to be heard and listened to and to influence the Parties’ Veterans’ policies.

The Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia’s motto “Honour the dead but fight like hell for the Living”, truly reflects Australia’s paramount national interests in relation to military service: honouring the dead by commemorating their service and caring for the well-being of veterans and their families.
The Nation’s Promise to veterans as stated by PM Billy Hughes in 1917: “We say to them – ‘You go and fight, and when you come back we will look after your welfare’ ….we have entered into a bargain with the soldier, and we must keep it!”, is a non-discretionary obligation.
That commitment, which led to the national obligation to maintain for veterans and their families care and a reasonable standard of living, has been broken in certain areas by successive Governments.

ADSO – A REMINDER
ADSO is an active representative voice for our Australian Defence Family to the Australian Parliament and the Australian people. We advocate to Governments for the well-being of our Defence Family and protection of its service entitlements. We are a non-partisan Alliance of most major ex-service organisations. We lobby the Government, its appropriate Ministers and political parties to achieve our objectives. 
Our Canberra lobby team has direct access to the DVA Minister through quarterly meetings with him and staff on topical issues and importantly we are represented by eight of ADSO’s members on DVA’s National Consultative Framework and its constituent forums (ESO Round Table (ESORT)National Aged and Community Care Forum (NACCF)Operational Working Party (OWP) and Younger Veterans — Contemporary Needs Forum (YVF). It is a formal consultative structure designed to facilitate effective communication between the veteran and ex-service community, the Repatriation and Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commissions, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). It gives us the opportunity to highlight DVA policy and process problems and seek remedies. Have a look at what they discuss at their quarterly meetings.
And we respond to all Government inquiries related to veterans’ issues with researched submissions and attend related public hearings and inquiries to address them.
Major submissions in the past few years have been:
• 2019 – The Productivity Commission Inquiry into DVA – ADSO Submission March 2019 and ADSO Submission July 2018.
• 2016 – Senate Inquiry into Veterans Suicides – ADSO Submission dated 7 Oct 2016; supplementary submission dated 11 Oct 2016.

ADSO intends to become an Incorporated entity this year to give it greater strength, governance and opportunities.

ADSO’s MAJOR POLICY OBJECTIVES – 2019 Election and Beyond

Download ADSO Policy Objectives PDF

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 They will be released by our national spokesperson Kel Ryan in Townsville tomorrow Tue 16th April 2019.

WE NEED YOUR HELP – HERE’S HOW
To be successful we need your support. Even though these objectives may have no benefit to you personally NOW, they do to others of our Defence Family such as the:
• 235,000 military superannuants administered by the Government protected Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC);
• 110,000 MSBS members who have preserved benefits that are poorly indexed and not receivable until their notional retiring age and not portable to another complying Superannuation Fund;
• DFRDB Superannuants who commuted;
•  Widows whose reversionary payment is unfair;
• 27,000 TPIs whose disability payments have been severely eroded;
• 90,000 veterans whose disability payments have been eroded, and
• 290,000 DVA clients.
We hope that being part of our Family you will be supportive in whatever way you can.

Regardless of the election result we will be promoting our issues to all the newly elected MPs/Senators through our Advocates in Canberra and our Action Groups in the electorates by offering our support to brief them on veterans’ matters.

There is no doubt that using direct action tactics especially with social media is effective in promoting our issues. Please share our activities with your family and friends on Facebook, twitter or other social media.

Join Us. If you have not yet joined us, then please  subscribe to receive our free Updates and/or volunteer to join your local electorate Action Group Team or become an Advisor. As an Advisor you can assist us with your experience and expertise in a particular Campaign policy objective, such as arketing,public relations, media, investigative journalism, superannuation, legal, health, information services and technology, accounting, financial planning, sales, etc.

Add On. If you already subscribe to receive our Updates, then please consider increasing your involvement by volunteering to join your local electorate Action Group Team or becoming an Advisor.

Stay InformedKeep up to date with the Fair Go Campaign

Donating to Fund the Campaign

We are all unpaid volunteers and are motivated by the need to protect and care for our Defence Family. We fund our Campaign solely by donations from our supporters. If you can, please make a donation. Every donation, no matter how small, will make a big impact on our ability to get our message into the community. It will help pay for our promotions and promotional material (posters, Fact Sheet handouts etc), professional advice and administrative expenses. We are fortunate that many of our supporters provide their professional advice free. Thanks for your donation.

THANK YOU AUSTRALIA FOR YOUR SUPPORT IN PROTECTING THE PROTECTORS
UNITED WE SUCCEED, DIVIDED WE FAIL


Ted Chitham & Alf Jaugietis
Co-Directors ADSO Fair Go Campaign
15 April 2019

RCB Update 2/2019

A big shout out and thanks to our supporters for your generous donations to our RCB Legal Fighting Fund. The result is very encouraging – every little counts and as is said in the song from little things big things grow.

You all know that over 12 years our RCB Review Group’s representations to the Government of the day, via its Defence Department and its Ministers, have been rejected for reasons that we challenged as being false and misleading. We contend that our evidence reveals that a deception has been perpetrated to disguise the true nature of RCB’s deployment, thereby denying the troops access to eligible repatriation and other entitlements. Further, our numerous requests to meet with the Ministers’ decision recommending staff have been ignored until Minister Chester’s infamous 26th November 2018 “clayton’s meeting” in Canberra. See our Update 1/2019

Since then the Minister has greeted our requests for an independent of government judicial inquiry with SILENCE.

We have now contracted with a solicitor/barrister specialising in administrative law to give us a legal opinion on our evidence to: firstly, support an action against the Commonwealth in the matter of its non-recognition of RCB service as warlike; and secondly, support an action against breaches of ministerial, ministerial and defence staff advisors’ codes of ethics and conduct.

We expect to receive the legal opinions very soon and certainly before the Federal election. Those legal opinions will determine our future actions, either in a legal court and/or the court of public opinion. As an example of the latter action read the DFRDB Commutation Issue below and note our request to Minister Chester here

Defence Force Retirement & Death Benefit – Commutation issue – A Summary

 It is worth noting that  Minister Chester’s decision to appoint an independent examination of this matter was decided three days before the ABC TV 7.30 Report publicly “blew the whistle” on  a subject that  DFWA and ADSO have made numerous representations over many years to Governments without success. (Sounds familiar Guys?)

The Minister’s latest decision is an example of the power of the national media to influence the Government especially when an election is at hand.

What needs watching is the Minister’s determination of what is an independent body. If it is not external to Government then the issue remains within the Government’s “loop of self-protection” and cannot be acceptable.

RCB – Where to from Here?

We wait for the legal opinions before deciding further action.

In the meantime we prepare our chosen national media source and our own national social media campaign, and brief certain influential sitting party politicians and election candidates including the cross benchers in both Houses before the Election.

Encourage more donations from our supporters, friends and family: look upon the donation as an investment.

Thanks all for your support, suggestions, comments and donations: they are greatly appreciated. I can assure you all of the outstanding dedication of the RCBRG that remains resolute in it’s determination to pursue our claim beyond the Parliament.

Prior Planning, Persistence, Patience and Perseverance Prevents Poor Performance

Robert Cross
RCB Service 1973, 1974/75, 1982
RCB Group Leader
Date: 10/04/2019

DVA Better Access for Veterans and their Families

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs is working closely with the veteran community to make sure we are designing MyService to best suit your needs and preferences.

It is with thanks to feedback from MyService users, that we have recently updated the claims page to display all claims in a single view, rather than a drop-down menu. This will make it easier for you to navigate the claims process and find the information you need quicker.

Log on to your MyService account now to experience the change for yourself.

Log onto MyService now

Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant

To prepare for the launch of the Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant, you are now able to apply for all components of the Covenant, including the Veteran Card, lapel pin and oath, on MyService.

The Covenant serves to recognise the unique nature of military service and the contribution of Defence families. For more information about the Covenant visit the DVA website.

I do not have a Veteran Card…
Log on to your MyService Account, select ‘Apply for the Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant’ and follow the prompts to apply for your Veteran Card, lapel pin and oath.

I recently applied for the new Veteran Card…
Log in to your MyService account, select ‘Apply for the Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant’ and follow the prompts to apply for your lapel pin and oath.

I have an old DVA white or gold card…
Log on to your MyService Account, select ‘Apply for the Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant’ and follow the prompts to apply for your lapel pin and oath.
You will receive the new-look Veteran Card when your current card expires.

I am a Reservist, however, I am not eligible for a Veteran Card…
Although you are not eligible for a Veteran Card, you can still receive the lapel pin and oath. To apply, log on to MyService, select ‘Apply for the Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant’ and follow the prompts to apply for your lapel pin and oath.

Need help with myGov or using DVA’s online services? Call us!
myGov support line: 13 23 07
DVA General Enquiry Line: 1800 555 254


2019 Budget puts Veterans and their Families First

Australian veterans and their families will continue to see an improvement in support and services with $11.5 billion in funding allocated in the 2019–20 Budget. This funding represents an overall increase of $300 million allocated to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) in 2019-20 compared with 2018-19 to support our veterans and their families.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the 2019–20 Budget was focussed on putting veterans and their families first and would see a continued investment in the transformation of DVA.
“Over the next two years DVA will continue its focus on making it easier and faster for veterans to access the services they need, when and where they need them,” Mr Chester said.
“Veterans and their families will be able to access more services online and we will continue to simplify our phone system, introducing a single contact phone number, 1800 VETERAN.
“We are making sure that every veteran, no matter where they live has better access to DVA by partnering with Department of Human Services to use their extensive network of shop fronts and centres, as well as Mobile Service Centres and agent networks.
“We will also be investing more to make DVA’s online claims site, MyService, more user-friendly, making the claims process easier and faster.
“As the rising cost of living continues to put pressure on a lot of Australians, we have also announced a one-off Energy Assistance Payment that will provide additional support for more than 225,000 veterans and widows who receive support payments. The payment is worth $75 for singles and $125 for couples.
“We are continuing to deliver an extensive respect and recognition package with a veterans’ covenant, nationally recognised veterans’ card, lapel pin and commemorative program of national and international events.”

The Australian Government’s commitment to supporting veterans will strengthen with $24.4 million in funding over four years for a range of programs including:
         – $16.2 million in funding to support grants to organisations who support veterans to deliver innovative programs to support veterans to find meaningful employment
         – $4.2 million to extend the trial of the Provisional Access to Medical Treatment which will continue to provide veterans with access to treatment for specified conditions before claims are approved, getting veterans treatment faster and preventing the risk of further deterioration of their condition
       –  $4.0 million to provide training to volunteers who work with veterans enhancing their capability to recognise mental health risks and to provide intervention and support.

“Helping veterans effectively transition to civilian life is a priority for the government,” Mr Chester said.
“We know that employing a veteran is good for business and the experience and skills they bring to a job can be invaluable. “These grants will help veterans find employment by helping them navigate the range of community and government services available to them.”

Family violence victims who are former spouses or de-facto partners of veterans will also see an increase in support, with $6.2 million in funding allocated in the Budget.
“Funding for the Partner Service Pensions – eligibility alignment measure will ensure former spouses and de-facto partners will be able to continue receiving the partner service pension after their relationship has ended and divorce proceedings finalised, including where it is determined that special domestic circumstances apply,” Mr Chester said.
“This measure is about creating equity for all former partners of veterans, regardless of their marital status.”

Last year the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade completed its inquiry into the use of Quinoline anti-malarial drugs Mefloquine and Tafenoquine in the Australian Defence Force.
“We recognise that this is an ongoing concern for some veterans and the Australian Government is providing $2.1 million so that any concerned veterans can have a comprehensive health check by a general practitioner to identify service-related illness, disease and injury,” Mr Chester said.

The 2019–20 Budget also provides:
• $3.5 million in funding to support the 2020 Anzac Day Dawn Service in France as well as for managing security and attendance in both France and Turkey consistent with previous overseas commemorations. The funding includes funds for a scoping study for a commemorative site on the Island of Lemnos, Greece, the former site of an Australian field hospital during the First World War.
• New and amended listings on the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

More information on all of DVA’s 2019–20 Budget measures is available in the DVA Information Sheets here 

Opinion – RCB Commutation Stop the veterans’ pension rip-off

“Veterans who have suffered years of underpayment from their Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme (DFRDB) deserve much better. Many have put their lives on the line in times of conflict, but while the government glorifies troops as it sends them to war, it too often treats veterans of those wars with contempt in the bureaucratic way it deals with their financial and medical needs.

The Citizens Electoral Council made this clear in its Australian Alert Service magazine on 27 February. So far both the Coalition government and Labor have dismissed the veterans’ genuine grievances—but now, under pressure, on 25 March the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester announced the government will commission an independent inquiry into the DFRDB.

A previous compulsory superannuation scheme, the Defence Force Retirement Benefits Scheme (DFRB) operated between 1948 and 1972 and had an option to take a commutation (an early lump sum) after 20 years of service. Veterans who chose this option accepted a reduced pension to repay the value of the commutation, with the repayment amount based on their life expectancy or actuarial age. For instance, if their life expectancy was 30 more years, their annual pension was reduced by the amount of their lump sum divided by 30 years. But many veterans are living well past that actuarial age and are still receiving the reduced pension, even though in many cases the original lump sum has been reimbursed multiple times. Additionally, the Notional Life Expectancy tables used to calculate the reduced pension were based on outdated 1962 figures. In effect they’re penalised for reaching a ripe old age. It just doesn’t pass the pub test!

Veterans were compulsorily transferred to the new DFRDB from its inception in 1972. 

After suffering years of reduced pensions, veterans are now demanding justice, including by petitioning the Parliament. Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester dismissed Principal Petitioner, Mr Ken Stone (Petition No. EN0745) in parliament on 18 February, saying “the Government does not support the view that pension recipients have been denied eligible benefits”.
Maybe Chester should have remembered he was dealing with veterans who, unlike him, have been to war, because they were not deterred.

In a letter to Lucy Wicks MP, Chair of the Standing Committee on Petitions, Mr Stone—a retired Wing Commander—didn’t mince his words: “From my detailed response to the Minister’s assertions, I am sure that you and your committee will see through the duplicitous and deceitful reply the Minister (or his minions) has provided to my Parliamentary Petition, that makes a sham of the Petition process.” 
Veteran Jim Nicholls explained to the CEC: “We are not seeking ‘the portion we commuted be restored’; this is about getting the pension restored to its rightful amount once the commutation has been repaid.”
The Labor Party’s position is no better, with MPs writing to veterans insisting that if they commuted funds decades ago, they should stay on a reduced pension indefinitely. They claim this was the “intention” of the DFRB commutation arrangement.
But Mr Stone has presented a document to the CEC which knocks Minister Chester’s and Labor’s claims on the head. The relevant document is the RAAF Personnel Information Handbook (4th Edition) dated October 1988. This handbook was issued to RAAF members new and old, and covered most aspects of RAAF life.
Under the heading “The Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme”, it states: “When you receive retired pay (i.e. pension) you will have the right to commute. This means that you are able to borrow an amount equal to several times your retired pay at the time of your discharge and repay that amount over your normal life expectancy.”
This clearly shows that the lump sum was a loan that was to be repaid by calculating a fixed repayment at discharge, based on life expectancy with no mention of CPI adjustments or whole-of-life repayment expectations. So, irrespective of what publications may have existed within the Department about it being a life-long repayment, this is what RAAF personnel were actually told in the 1980s.

The Australian government has exploited our defence personnel for too long. It is all too happy to send them into senseless and even illegal foreign wars at the whims of British and American geopolitical demands. The government funnels billions of dollars to profit arms companies—the Joint Strike Fighters alone are expected to cost taxpayers $17 billion. But when it comes to the welfare of the veterans who have been prepared to put their lives on the line for their nation, they are treated with contempt. The government’s policy betrays that its patriotism is self-serving and fake. This policy must end, and the government must stop ripping off veterans.”

Craig Isherwood‚ National Secretary
Citizens Electoral Council of Australia- Media Release Friday, 29 March 2019

St Patrick’s Day Greetings

To all our Irish friends a Happy St Patrick’s Day