DVA Minister Release - Recognising female veterans

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Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan has today called for greater understanding of the service and sacrifice of Australia’s female veterans.

“Last year the Government held a forum with current and former female Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and their families where our female veterans said that many did not feel they received recognition for their service,” Mr Tehan said.

“Many of our female veterans observed that when they wore their medals in public many people assumed they were wearing the medals of their father or grandfather.

“So this Anzac Day, if you see anyone wearing medals on their left side it is because they earned those medals and please tell them ‘thank-you’ for their service.

“Australian servicewomen now comprise 16.1 per cent of the permanent full-time ADF and there are currently 266 women serving overseas on ADF operations, representing about 14 per cent of the total deployed force.

“We now have 82 women in senior officer positions – colonel equivalent and above – compared to 48 in February 2012.

“As a nation we respect and honour the service and sacrifice of every man and woman who serves in defence of our nation, our freedoms and our values.”

18 April 2017

Media enquiries:
Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

VETAFFAIRS - Autumn Edition 2017

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The Autumn 2017 edition of Vetaffairs is now available on DVA's website.
You can also view this issue in interactive Realview pdf format.
You might also be interested in our online noticeboard.

Below are some of the stories covered in this issue. (Please note that to open web links on this page you may need to right click and select 'open').
Fall of Singapore
Nearly 2,000 people gathered at the national 75th anniversary commemoration service to remember those who died and suffered during the Fall of Singapore. The event took place on 15 February 2017 in Ballarat, Victoria.
On the same day, a life-size bronze statue of an elderly mother clutching a framed photo of her son killed in war was unveiled at the new Garden of the Grieving Mother in Ballarat.
Pensions and allowances rise
Veterans’ pensions were increased from 20 March 2017 following the latest round of indexation adjustments.
The Digital Readiness Bill
On 29 March, Parliament passed the Digital Readiness Bill. This is an important development in giving DVA 21st-century tools to provide a 21st-century service that veterans deserve.
Decision on the Long Tan Cross site commemorations
The Vietnamese government has confirmed there will be no official Anzac Day commemoration at the Long Tan Cross site this year.
Using your DVA Health Card
There are a few things worth remembering when using your DVA Health Card.
Overseas Anzac Day services – opening times and registration
This year, visitors are encouraged to register for a free attendance pass for the services at Gallipoli and Villers-Bretonneux.
Commemorations throughout 2017
This year is the penultimate year of the Anzac Centenary commemorative period, spanning 2014 to 2018. It will feature several milestone commemorations domestically and overseas to recognise Australian service and sacrifice since Federation.

DVA Minister - Modernising rehabilitation and compensation systems delivers benefits to veterans

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Dan TehanThe time taken to process certain claims for veterans has fallen dramatically thanks to the Government’s investment in updating claims processing systems, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan announced today.

Mr Tehan said the Government had provided $23.9 million in the last Budget to replace outdated rehabilitation and compensation systems and to simplify and improve internal processes.

“Claims for non-liability health care are now processed within a day, and in some cases within 30 minutes where previously the average processing times for these claims was 18 days,” Mr Tehan said.

“Veterans seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, alcohol and substance abuse are accessing treatment faster than ever before.

“This system update is ongoing and there will be further improvements to processing times and more consistency in decision making and calculations.

The next system improvements will focus on incapacity claims review, rehabilitation, needs assessment and Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 permanent impairment processing.

Media enquiries:
Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 45 46). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

2016 Census reveals how ‘average Aussie’ looks

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It’s not Paul Hogan, nor Tony Abbott and it sure as daylight isn’t a rugged bushman.

The first glimpse at census data collected last year has revealed the typical Australian is a 38-year-old married mother of two who lives in a three-bedroom house, which she owns with a mortgage.

Both her parents were born in Australia and have English ancestry.

READ MORE

The Australian April 11, 2017 by  

Social Affairs reporter
 

DVA Minister - Improved self-help resource available

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Dan Tehan

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said improvements to an online resource for current and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) would better help them manage stress.

Mr Tehan said the High Res website had been updated following user feedback to make it easier to use.

"The High Res website is a valuable tool that current and former ADF personnel can use to help them manage stress," Mr Tehan said.

"Improvements to the website include a simple step-by-step guide to developing a personal action plan, tips for better sleep and self-help tools on controlled breathing, muscle relaxation, managing negative or distracting thoughts and emotions.
"Current and former ADF personnel are increasingly seeking digital support and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) is meeting this growing need through a range of mental health websites and apps.

The High Res resource can be accessed through DVA’s At Ease portal 

7th March 2017

Media enquiries:
Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 45 46). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

Peter Switzer - The Australian economy is screwed. Not!

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Peter Switzer

Australia looks on track for a stellar year. To our Treasurer with his fiscal game plan ahead, I say, “beam us up a great Budget, Scotty!”

All too often I hear media ‘experts’ telling us that our economy is “shot to pieces” and our standard of living is falling! And let’s not talk about our public debt problem!

As the Treasurer embarks on his last month of economic research and reconnaissance on the Aussie economy before next month’s Budget (on the second Tuesday in May), let’s just objectively see what he might be finding out about the place we call our economic home.

And given my acceptance of what Albert Schweitzer said: “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success”, let’s encourage success by concentrating on the better, make-me-happy news first.

Read more

Published 03 April 2017

Ross Eastgate Opinion - Hierarchy must give answers on drugs push

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THE late military martinet and Chief of the Defence Force Staff, General Sir Arthur Leslie MacDonald KBE, CB, was never one to mince words.
In the Oxford Companion to Australian Military History MacDonald was remarked as one who “possessed a fierce temper and an often irascible nature which, combined with considerable intelligence and a capacity for hard work, made him a sometimes difficult superior”.
 
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It was not so much sage advice but a clear directive when he declared, “Never ask a question to which you do not already know the answer”.
It was a bold staff officer who attempted to baffle Mac-Donald with a dubious briefing based on dodgy if not simply unsupportable evidence.
MacDonald’s leadership style is long since lost to the contemporary ADF, which has abandoned the organisation’s core values and objectives.
MacDonald served in North Africa and PNG in World War II, commanded 3RAR in Korea and was Australian Force commander in Vietnam.
 
He would never have countenanced proposals for the ADF to take a lead role in minority-gender politics nor have tolerated those who attempted to wrap their individual agendas in ADF uniform.

MacDonald’s Vietnam command coincided with the now-discredited Australian Malaria Institute (AMI) trial of dapsone, a drug otherwise used to treat leprosy.

There’s no doubt AMI snowed MacDonald and his senior medical adviser about its antimalarial efficacy but not its known adverse side effects.

Properly advised, neither would ever have allowed that mistake.

AMI continues to provide dubious advice. It has conducted questionable trials into both mefloquine and tafenoquine with recorded adverse consequences to many who have taken them.

Despite many military and medical jurisdictions distancing themselves from both drugs, AMI seems determined to have tafenoquine registered internationally as a suitable antimalarial prophylactic.

Observing MacDonald’s advice, let’s ask some questions.

1. Has the current ADF hierarchy formally sought independent medical advice about the suitability of either drug or their potential adverse effects, or has it simply accepted AMI’s assurances as to their suitability?

2. Is there a concerted effort by those involved with manufacturing and promoting either drug to have AMI give its professional imprimatur to propose them as safe and effective antimalarial prophylaxes or treatments?

3. Has any AMI member been offered any financial or personal inducements above their military salary and entitlements to promote either drug for long-term use?

4. Are any AMI staff actively collaborating with the manufacturers to achieve this outcome?

5. Has the current ADF hierarchy been aware of such efforts?
 
6. Has the ADF hierarchy given any encouragement that the ADF, through AMI’s advice, will eventually recommend either drug as appropriate for long-term antimalarial usage as either prophylaxis or treatment?
 
This column will appear today in ADF media summaries. The questions have been asked.

No currently serving senior officer will be able to deny in the future that he or she was unaware of them.

If they have not already asked those questions then they should without delay.

They can only hide behind the Defence PR Dysfuncionettes until the truth is out.
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DVA Minister - Enhanced support for veterans’ employment

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30 March 2017

Dan Tehan

Improvements to the Government’s jobactive website are helping veterans find work.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan and Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash today welcomed the response of Australian employers to the improvements.

The improvements were made as part of the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program, launched in November last year to improve employment opportunities for former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

The Government has created online functionality to flag vacancies listed on jobactive as suitable for former ADF members and more than 300 positions have already been flagged.

A new information page for veterans has also been launched containing resources for ADF personnel to identify their skills and appropriate civilian jobs.

Mr Tehan said the early evidence suggested business understood the unique skills and experience former ADF personnel could bring to the workplace.Mr Tehan said.
“The Government has already made improvements to the transition process for people leaving the military so they are better placed to seize post-service opportunities.

“The first meeting of the Industry Advisory Committee on Veterans’ Employment will also take place on Friday where business leaders from across the economy will take the lead on developing practical measures for businesses to use when recruiting veterans.”

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Minister Cash said the Turnbull Government was committed to implementing practical solutions to ensure jobseekers were connected with employment opportunities.

“Our unwavering focus on delivering economic growth and job creation includes looking at ways that we can better connect Australians with our employment services,” Minister Cash said.
“Former defence force personnel have an enormous amount of experience that many employers would be keen to benefit from.”

The jobactive website connects job seekers with employers as well as providing additional services, such as help writing a resume, interview preparation and upskilling.

See here for more information on jobactive services, 

Media enquiries:
Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894
Minister Cash’s Office: David De Garis 0427 019 692
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203
Department of Employment Media: 02 6240 8667

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 45 46). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

DVA Minister - Promoting mental health support for our veterans

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30 March 2017

Dan Tehan

The Government has launched a digital advertising campaign to inform current and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) about accessing free treatment for five mental health conditions.

“Anyone who has served at least one day of full-time service in the ADF is eligible for free treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and alcohol and substance abuse,” Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said.

“The program is uncapped, fully-funded and you do not have to prove your condition is related to your service to access treatment.
“This important Government initiative is helping veterans access free mental health and we want to reach as many people as possible with this advertising campaign.”

Mr Tehan said the campaign would run online and across social media targeting current ADF members, veterans and their families.

Anyone wanting more information on how to access this treatment can phone DVA on 133 254 (metropolitan callers) or 1800 555 254 (regional callers) or visit www.dva.gov.au/nlhc.

Immediate assistance can also be provided by the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS), which provides free and confidential counselling service for veterans and their families 24/7 on 1800 011 046.

Media enquiries:
Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 45 46). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

DVA Minister - Government action on NMHC review

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30 March 2017

Dan Tehan
The Government will make the development of strategies to support former members of the Australian Defence Force who are under 30 and have recently left the military a priority.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Dan Tehan and Minister for Health Greg Hunt said today targeting suicide among former ADF who were under 30 was a priority recommendation of the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) Review into the Suicide and Self-Harm Prevention Services Available to current and former serving ADF members and their families, which was provided to the Government on Tuesday and released publicly today.

Former ADF members under 30 had been identified in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) study Estimation of incidence of suicide in ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel as a group with a suicide rate above the national average.

Mr Tehan said he had also tasked the Department of Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to respond to the review.

Mr Tehan will also work with both departments to address issues raised in the review, specifically how both departments can work more closely together.

“The NMHC has produced a comprehensive document that identifies strengths and weaknesses in the suicide prevention services provided to current and former members of the ADF,” Mr Tehan said.

“The review found the ADF and DVA must work collaboratively to ensure their respective processes are seamless and continuous and we will focus on delivering that change.”

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Minister Hunt said the Review will be considered in the roll out of 12 suicide prevention trial sites around the country.
“This includes the suicide prevention trial site in the Townsville region – which will have a strong focus on support for ex-ADF personnel, in particular for the under-30 age group,” Mr Hunt said.

“As part of the trial, Project Synergy will work with the PHN to develop tailored digital mental health solutions, as part of the Turnbull Government’s $30 million investment in e-mental health.”

National Mental Health Commission CEO Dr Peggy Brown will meet personally with the PHN and steering committee next week to discuss the findings and recommendations of the Review.

“The review highlights the importance of the human experience when dealing with Defence and DVA and we must continue to deliver better support to the families of current and former ADF personnel,” Mr Hunt said.

All serving ADF members can access mental health services through their on base health facilities.

Defence and the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) also offer 24/7 specialist support to current and former ADF members and their families.

The ADF All-Hours Support Line is available on 1800 628 036 and VVCS is available on 1800 011 046.

Anyone who has ever served one day in the full-time ADF can access free treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, alcohol and substance abuse by calling the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on 1800 555 254 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Media enquiries:
Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894
Minister Hunt’s Office: John O’Doherty 0402 047 852
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 45 46). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

DVA Minister - First meeting of Industry Advisory Committee on Veterans’ Employment

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31 March 2017

Dan Tehan

First meeting of Industry Advisory Committee on Veterans’ Employment
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan has said business leaders on the Industry Advisory Committee on Veterans’ Employment had an important job developing strategies that would help veterans find meaningful employment as the committee met for the first time in Sydney today.

The Industry Advisory Committee on Veterans’ Employment is an initiative of the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program, launched in November.

The committee is chaired by George Frazis, chief executive of the Consumer Bank Division of Westpac Group and a former member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF); the Deputy Chair is Ben Roberts-Smith VC, MG, and general manager of Seven Brisbane and Regional Queensland.

The committee comprises representatives of business organisations and will meet regularly to develop strategies that encourage industry to recognise the unique skills and experience that members of the ADF can bring to the workplace.

At today’s meeting, the Committee established a number of priority areas of focus, including availability of data on the employment profile of veterans, improving the transition process from the ADF and translating skills and raising awareness of the value that former members of the ADF offer to Australian businesses.

“The private sector is best-placed to develop the strategies to fully harness the talents of our ADF personnel and support them in post-military employment,” Mr Tehan said.
“As the Prime Minister has observed, one of the challenges faced by ADF personnel after they leave the military is communicating their skills in a language the private sector understands and that will be one of the issues addressed by the Industry Advisory Committee.”
“Since the Government added the ability to flag vacancies on its jobactive website as suitable for former ADF members, more than 300 positions have been flagged by employers which shows there is a genuine interest among the business community in the skills our veterans can bring to the workplace.
“The committee will also help develop the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Annual Awards, an annual award to launch this year that will recognise the excellent work done by small, medium and large businesses employing veterans.”

“Today’s discussion set a solid foundation for the committee to address various matters that will improve the lives of our veterans, including their transition to employment after service, capturing reliable data, and raising industry awareness to increase opportunities and wellbeing of our ex-service people,” Mr Frazis said.

Media enquiries:
Media DeMinister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203tail

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 45 46). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

Government welcomes NMHC review into veterans’ mental health

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The Government today received the National Mental Health Commission’s (NMHC) review of suicide and self-harm services for veterans and members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Dan Tehan
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Dan Tehan and Minister for Health Greg Hunt acknowledged receipt of the review.
“The Government has a responsibility to the men and women who defend our nation and we are committed to addressing veteran and ADF suicide,” Mr Tehan said.
“The Government will look closely at the recommendations in this review and respond in due course. We will also release the full review to the public on Thursday.
“This review will complement other Government initiatives to tackle suicide.
“We have made mental health treatment free for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and drug and alcohol misuse conditions for anyone who has served one day in the full-time ADF.
“And last year the Government released the first-ever robust data on the incidence of suicide among past and present ADF personnel and more specific findings will be released this year.”

Minister Hunt said the findings and recommendations from the Review would be an important consideration in the rollout of mental health services.
“We’ve already announced the establishment of 12 suicide prevention trial sites across Australia – including one in the Townsville region that will have a focus on veterans’ mental health,” Mr Hunt said.
“The Commission’s report will be used as a guide to inform ongoing trial design and suicide prevention strategies developed and implemented.”

28th March 2017

Media enquiries:
Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 45 46). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

Government abandons plans to release veterans' personal information

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ABC News by political reporter Henry Belot

The Federal Government will abandon its push for new powers to release the personal information of veterans should it wish to correct deliberately misleading public statements.

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The ABC revealed concerns about the legislation earlier this month with sections of the veteran community fearing it was designed to silence public criticism.

The proposal was wrapped into a larger Digital Readiness Bill aimed at improving veteran services and will now be dropped to secure passage through the Senate.

The powers would have given the department secretary the ability to disclose otherwise protected information about veterans provided they obtained a public interest certificate.

Veterans Affairs Minister Dan Tehan said the broader bill was an important piece of legislation that would modernise the Government's IT systems and provide better services.

"The public disclosure measures were aimed at strengthening privacy protections for veterans but given misinformation in the community we decided to act in the best interests of the veterans' community and remove this section of the bill," he told the ABC.

The proposed changes passed the House of Representatives within hours of Labor referring Human Services Minister Alan Tudge to the police after he authorised the release of a welfare recipient's details to a journalist.

That prompted Labor's veteran affairs spokeswoman Amanda Rishworth to raise concerns about the legislation, despite her party voting for the bill hours earlier.

On Monday, Ms Rishworth welcomed the Government's decision to sideline the public interest disclosure provision entirely.

"While Labor was continuing to work with the Government to strengthen the rules to ensure veterans were not left any worse off, we believe that their amendment to remove them entirely is appropriate given the amount of community concern," she said.

"Labor has continually raised concerns about the provisions to release personal information and in light of recent community concerns, are pleased the Government has sought to remove the Public Interest Disclosure provision from the bill."

When the bill was introduced into the Senate last week, Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore said she was "very concerned about the eventual release of personal information".

"There is a fear in the veteran community that these measures will only service to silence them from speaking out," she said.

Independent senator Jacqui Lambie said the Government's claim that veterans had been consulted about the proposal was "absolute rubbish", and said the bill failed to protect veterans' personal information.

"Veterans make an enormous sacrifice to serve and protect our great nation," she said.

Under the proposal, the Government would have had to notify a veteran in writing of an intention to disclose information and provide them with an opportunity to object.

In a bid to ease concerns, Mr Tehan had previously agreed to an external privacy assessment of the proposal.

The Government had maintained the proposal was designed to strengthen privacy procedures, rather than undermine them.

"The privacy safeguards that currently exist for protecting veterans' privacy information are pretty feeble," he said earlier this month.

"There is not really any stick to go with them if someone decides to exploit a veteran's information."

ADF PAY - Military advocates draw battlelines ahead of negotiations

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The Coalition government could be heading for another bruising clash with Australia's military families over working conditions in the ADF with military advocates warning they will not accept cuts to entitlements in the new workplace deal.

The current "wage determination" for the nation's 57,000 men and women in uniform expires in November and with early stages of talks set to begin next week, the key defence families lobby group is warning its members will reject any further erosion of "conditions of service."

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The Defence Force Welfare Association led an unprecedented backlash by tens of thousands of Defence families in late 2014 and early 2015 that forced the then-Abbott government into an embarrassing backdown in its stance on public sector pay and conditions.

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DVA Minister's Statement - DVA services for Townsville veterans ongoing

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The Department of Veterans’ Affairs office in Townsville is not closing.

The Townsville Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) office is not closing.

The Townsville On-Base Advisory Service (OBAS) at Lavarack is not changing.

The Townsville Veterans’ Access Network (VAN) is not closing and there are no plans to merge it with the Department of Human Services.

Dan TehanMinister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said two additional staff would commence working in the VAN office in April and a further two would join the VVCS office to work with complex and at risk clients and to support the Townsville Suicide Prevention program.

The Townsville VVCS is one of the busiest and largest in Australia and provides support to serving and ex-serving personnel and their families.

Improvements to processing functions have been made with four staff relocating to Brisbane where they will continue to deliver incapacity, rehabilitation, compensation and OBAS services.

“Townsville is home to a large number of serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel and DVA’s Townsville operations are crucial to supporting these clients,” Mr Tehan said.
“DVA staff are also working closely with the Primary Health Network in support of the Suicide Prevention Trial the Government is undertaking in Townsville and other mental health initiatives in the North Queensland area.”
Mr Tehan also reminded the veteran community that VVCS crisis support could be accessed 24/7 on 1800 011 046.

21 March 2017

Media enquiries:
Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 45 46). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

Mefloquine drug impaired thought process in Rwanda

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download 33The Canadian army officer who led the UN peacekeeping mission during the Rwandan genocide, General Dallaire, testifies that the antimalarial drug mefloquine affected his thought processes during his deployment but the military refused to let him stop taking it.

 

Soldiers who were given mefloquine in Somalia in the early 1990s as part of a poorly administered – and possibly illegal – clinical trial run by the Department of National Defence have told the veterans affairs committee that the medication caused lasting brain damage.

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DVA Media Release - 2017 Anzac Day commemorations in Vietnam

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TehanDanMinister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today said Australians planning to visit the Long Tan Cross site in Vietnam for Anzac Day commemorations should be aware of the current situation.

"It is important to ensure that all Australians planning to travel to Vietnam, and particularly the Long Tan Cross site, are aware of the current situation so they can manage their expectations and travel arrangements in advance of Anzac Day 2017," Mr Tehan said.

In August 2016, the Vietnamese Government did not permit the planned Long Tan 50th anniversary commemoration service to take place at the Long Tan Cross site.

The Australian Government is continuing discussions with the Vietnamese Government about future commemorations in support of Australian veterans.


The Vietnamese Government had indicated previously that small groups of people may be granted access to the Long Tan Cross site for private visits, though this could change at short notice.


It remains unclear if the Vietnamese authorities will permit official commemorations and a final formal Vietnamese Government decision is yet to be taken.

The Australian Government cannot commit to holding an official commemoration at the Long Tan site on Anzac Day 2017 until the Vietnamese Government provide official advice.

The Prime Minister and the Minister for Foreign Affairs have renewed their requests to their Vietnamese counterparts that Vietnam allow official commemorative services on Anzac Day and Vietnam Veterans Day at the Long Tan site.

"The Australian Government respects Vietnam’s right as a sovereign nation to determine the nature of any foreign commemorations held in its country," Mr Tehan said.
"We appreciate Vietnam’s cooperation over many years in facilitating access to the Long Tan Cross site and allowing low-key official commemorative services to occur.
"The Australian Government will continue to update veterans and the Australian public on developments."

Further information will be available at smartraveller.gov.au and the Australian Consulate-General in Ho Chi Minh City website.

9th March 2017

Media enquiries:
Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 45 46). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

DVA Minister Media Release - Strengthening privacy protections for veterans

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Minister for Veterans' Affairs Dan Tehan has asked for an independent Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for the Digital Readiness Bill's public interest disclosure rules once they have been finalised.

TehanDan

"The Digital Readiness Bill's rules are designed to strengthen privacy protections for veterans as their first priority. These RuIes will codify safeguards about the use of personal information," Mr Tehan said.

"In consultation with the veterans' community, I have asked for an independent Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) to be conducted outside of the Department of Veterans' Affairs by the Australian Govemment Solicitor once the Rules are finalised. This is in addition to the PIA we have already conducted when the Rules were initially drafted ".
"Under the rules, private information and records will be protected. Both Privacy Impact Assessments will be released to the public before the Rules are tabled in the Parliament, as part of the continuing, comprehensive consultation process".

"I welcome any further input from the veteran community and the public. Anyone who wants to have their say can email my office on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Media enquiries: 
Minister Tehan's Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894 
Department of Veterans' Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800011046 (international: +61 882414546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

DFWA Media Release - PROTECTING VETERANS PRIVACY

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The Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (Digital Readiness and Other
Measures) Bill 2016 moved through the House of Representatives on Thursday 2
March 2017. It now goes to the Senate.

The Bill seeks to overcome long-recognised deficiencies in DVA's antiquated IT systems and improve its business processes.

The Bill is designed to help reform DVA’s processes to simplify them, reduce claims processing times and improve the services provided by the Department to veterans and their families and we support this aim.

However, the privacy issues concerning what is the “public interest” to enable the Secretary of DVA to release a veteran’s record has not undergone an independent Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA).

We want the Government to order an independent PIA that is consistent with
the Guidelines set by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

 Once this is achieved, the veterans community and lawmakers will be able to review the independent PIA report with respect to veterans’ privacy and adjust the Bill as
necessary to address our concerns. This should be done before the Bill is
considered by the Senate.

READ THE FULL STATEMENT 

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