Sen. Jim Molan’s First Speech

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images 54It’s only fair to this house that I state what I hope to focus on as a senator for New South Wales. I will put the people of New South Wales and Australia first, to the best of my ability, in everything this house asks me to consider.

The following are some extracts:

Someone once said that, if opponents don’t speak against you, you probably are not standing up for enough. Anyone who’s googled me—and that seems to be most of the Western world and all the media in the last week or so—knows that various opponents regularly speak against me because I have publicly voiced my views on issues. I was targeted because I criticised the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government over its neglect of its national defence responsibilities. Some single-issue polemicists wanted to take me to the International Criminal Court years ago as a supposed war criminal because I fought in Iraq, and that has echoed more recently. Those who failed to stop the boats or said it could not be done attacked me, and of course they attacked many others, because we did it. I was publicly attacked by apologists at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas because I was a board director, with a military background, of the then brilliant St James Ethics Centre. And, most recently, I was abused as a murderer at a function held in Redfern. If opponents don’t speak against you, you are probably not standing up for enough.

Let me finish with reference to the most important determinant of what I am, the Australian military. If I had a military mentor over the years, it is retired Lieutenant General Des Mueller, who launched the book that I wrote back in 2008, and I thank him for 25 years of wise counsel. Des was and is a brilliant blend of Sparta and Athens. My boss in Iraq was US General George Casey, who commanded the war in Iraq for three long years while I ran it for him for only the first of those years.

Too many to name are the Australian soldiers of all ranks who’ve worked for me, with me or above me over 40 years, because I’ve learnt so much from them while pretending to know much more than I ever actually did. Many of them have contacted me in the past week to express their support for me when the place of men and women in uniform in our society was challenged.

Napoleon said: if you want to learn a nation’s interests, go to the graves of its soldiers. Many Australian dead have been brought back to Australia, but many still lie close to where they fell. Australia’s interests lie across the face of this earth. We are an international nation with worldwide interests. I’ve visited many battlefields and played cameo parts on some. What strikes me is the consistent performance of Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen over more than 100 years and around the world. Today’s soldiers are as good as, if not better than, any we have sent overseas, and much of that is due to our Australian culture and the leadership, training and equipment that accompany them. To me, they represent everything that is good about Australia because they are Australian. I dedicate my efforts in this house to them. Thank you.

READ THE FULL SPEECH

DVA Minister - DELIVERING BETTER SERVICES FOR VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES

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download 9 VETERANS and their families are set to benefit  with Minister for   Veterans’ Affairs Michael McCormack introducing the Veterans’ Affairs   Legislation Amendment (Veteran-Centric Reforms No. 1) Bill 2018     ( VCR Bill) to implement several new initiatives which will deliver better   services to veterans and their families.
“This Bill will create a new veteran payment to assist financially vulnerable veterans who have lodged a compensation claim for a mental health condition and are unable to work while their claim is being determined,” Mr McCormack said.
“The determination of Qualifying Service will also be automated, removing the requirement for a veteran to make an application for the determination. This is a key part of a broader improvement strategy to ease the transition process for veterans, putting veterans and their needs at the forefront.
“We will also invest an additional $7.1 million so we can deliver support services for veterans and their families through increased access to childcare, home care and counselling.”

Mr McCormack said partners of veterans may be eligible for the veteran payment and veterans with dependent children may be entitled to the maximum rates of Family Tax Benefit Part A without being subject to the Family Tax Benefit means test while they receive the veteran payment.
“Australian Defence Force members who served in Japan after the cessation of hostilities at the end of World War II and before the formation of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) will be entitled to receive a Gold Card,” Mr McCormack said.
“Veterans and their families are at the heart of communities around Australia — they have supported us and this Government is committed to ensuring they receive and have access to support services they need.
“Family plays an essential role in a veteran’s health and wellbeing and this Bill will ensure vital services such as income support and health care help veterans and their families transitioning into civilian life.”

Other measures in the Bill include a new pilot program to provide improved mental health support to veterans in remote and regional areas of Australia.

15 February 2018

 

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

OPINION - New minister has job to do

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TOWNSVILLE should be a priority destination for recently appointed Veterans’ Affairs Minister Michael McCormack.

download 9McCormack represents the NSW seat Riverina for the National Party, with his electorate office in Wagga Wagga. Wagga is perhaps best known as the location of the army’s recruit training battalion at Kapooka, also known as Home of the Soldier.

Since McCormack is now also Minister for Defence Personnel he is ideally placed with local RAAF and army personnel to understand the issues faced by itinerant defence families.
He should bring to his dual portfolios some sympathy for the plight of those serving and those who have left the service for whatever reason.

While the affable Dan Tehan made the right noises, many veterans remain disappointed with his inaction on issues such as the ADF’s flawed mefloquine and tafenoquine antimalarial drug trials. This is a major issue for those affected.

Townsville has a significant concentration of veterans suffering the adverse consequences of mefloquine and tafenoquine poisoning yet DVA seemingly on ADF advice insists there is no problem.

To be fair to Tehan, any minister depends on the advice of specialists in the ministries they head.
The same applies to ministerial staff who often believe their prime function is to protect the reputation of their minister and the Government rather than offer frank and fearless advice on behalf of affected constituents.
When that advice is flawed or biased then a minister’s advice is equally biased and flawed.

McCormack could make an early mark by listening to people like Townsville-based veterans John Caligari and Ray Martin who continue to fight for the soldiers they once led, understanding command is a lifelong responsibility.

He should also talk with the wives and partners who struggle to understand why someone they love can return so damaged from operational service and who are then expected to pick up the pieces to keep their relationships and families intact.

McCormack could also make a mark by insisting faceless bureaucrats explain why awards should be granted to those who feel their service has gone unrecognised rather than accept their flawed advice as to why they should not.

Yes Minister

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

ALP - BANKING ROYAL COMMISSION MUST INCLUDE CSC IN TERMS OF REFERENCE

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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.

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.

Amanda Rishworth 
Shadow minister for Veterans' Affairs 
13 February 2018

 

VETERANS AND THOSE SERVING CANNOT ACCEPT GREEN MP BANDT’S ‘COWARD’ SLIGHT ON SENATOR MOLAN

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ADSO endorses the DFWA's Media Statement.

The anger across the Australian Defence Community, and the public generally, at the Greens ‘coward’ slight aimed at now Senator Major General Jim Molan, AO, DSC (Retd) is palpable.

download 40 Mr Adam Bandt MP words are in themselves cowardly. By throwing aspersions at the character and actions of a long-standing military servant of the nation who has not only been renowned for his integrity but who has been at the absolute forefront of protecting Australian values, not to mention its borders, is a disgrace of the highest order.

The ex-service community as a whole of which the Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA) is a part, considers the Greens MP’s comments spineless in the extreme, made worse by the senior leadership of the Greens, led by Senator De Natalie, effectively supporting Mr Bandt’s denigrating words and attempts to justify them. 

Not only were the comments unbecoming of a member of the Federal Parliament, by inference they directly targeted the whole veteran community and those currently serving, many of whom are presently away from their families serving in harm’s way and with distinction across the globe. 

Such service appears to mean little to Greens members of Federal Parliament. By direct contrast, the vast majority of the Australian people strongly support the dedication of the men and women involved and acknowledge the exceptional service they give to their country.

DFWA seeks to represent the issues of the members of the veteran community and those presently serving. Such disgusting smears made by the Greens, individuals who have never served in harm’s way, nor sought to understand the challenges the men and women of the ADF face, must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Generals down to the sailors, soldiers and the men and women of the air force regularly face life and death situations. This warrants more than a modicum of understanding, not craven attacks on them or their integrity in Parliament.

Members of the ADF serve at the direction of the legally elected Government. They do it with courage, backed by a tradition of honour in representing their nation in difficult circumstances. They do not deserve unwarranted attacks in Parliament by those who should know better.

While it must be acknowledged that Mr Bandt MP has now offered two apologies to Senator Molan, the first clearly inadequate and insincere, the Australian Defence Community must continue to have suspicions about the motives of the Green members of Parliament.

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National President: Kel Ryan (0418) 759 120  www.dfwa.org.au
Executive Director: Alf Jaugietis (0438) 282 284

DFWA – Voice of the Defence Community

Incidence of suicide in serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel: detailed analysis 2001–2015

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This report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare quantifies the level of suicide among serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and identifies factors that may be associated with suicide risk. For completeness, it includes results of the earlier summary report (AIHW 2017b) alongside the detailed analysis supporting them, including additional analyses by age group and over time.

Analysis in the summary report examined each service-related characteristic associated with risk of suicide individually. 

This analysis is part of an authoritative study commissioned by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on the incidence of suicide among serving and ex-serving ADF personnel. Results will provide a baseline for the ongoing monitoring of suicide rates among these personnel.

Key findings
Between 2001 and 2015, there were 325 certified suicide deaths among people with at least 1 day of ADF service since 2001. Of these, 51% (166) were ex-serving at the time of their death, 28% (90) were serving full time and 21% (69) were in the reserves.

Men made up 84% of the ADF populations examined in the study. The clear majority of suicide deaths identified (93% or 303 deaths) occurred among men, with 7% (22 deaths) among women. Due to the smaller number of women in the study, detailed analysis on women was not possible. Hence, the report focuses primarily on suicide death among men.

Ex-serving men have higher suicide rates
Suicide rates among men serving full time and in the reserves were significantly lower than for all Australian men. In contrast, the suicide rate for ex-serving men was:

14% higher than for men in the general population after adjusting for age; this was not statistically significant, but important when considered in the context of significantly lower all-cause mortality in ex-serving men compared with all Australian men
significantly higher for ex-serving men aged 18–29 compared with all Australian men of the same age
more than twice as high as for men serving full time or in the reserves
more than twice as high as for ex-serving women.
Based on these findings, this report focuses primarily on risk factors for suicide death among ex-serving men.

No change in ex-serving suicide rate
Between 2007–2009 and 2013–2015, there was no statistically significant change in the crude suicide rate among ex-serving men. This will continue to be monitored as more years of data become available.

Risk groups among ex-serving men
Analysis for the summary report found younger age, involuntary discharge (particularly medical discharge), less than 1 year of service, and discharge in all ranks other than commissioned officer to be associated with higher suicide risk. This analysis examined each of these characteristics individually so it was not possible to separate out the effects of potentially interrelated characteristics (for example, younger age and short length of service) to show which was most strongly associated with suicide death when all other factors were controlled for. Logistic regression was undertaken in this report for this purpose.

Results of the modelling largely support earlier findings based on crude rates and show that, when age and all other available factors are controlled for, the following service-related characteristics were associated with significantly higher suicide risk among ex-serving men:

Medical discharge (the odds for suicide are 1.9 times the odds for those discharged voluntarily).
Discharge in all ranks other than commissioned officers (the odds for suicide are 2.2 times the odds for commissioned officers).
Length of service was not a significant predictor of suicide death once all other factors were controlled for. However, the results of this analysis still suggest an increased likelihood of suicide in ex-serving men with less than 1 year of service when compared with men who served 10 years or more.

This study identifies groups of people who may be at higher risk of suicide death, but it cannot indicate if a particular characteristic is the cause of the suicide death. Other analyses, such as qualitative or case-study analysis, would be needed to provide useful insight into the circumstances leading up to these deaths. Nonetheless, the information and data in this report may help to inform policy and to develop interventions to reduce suicide rates among serving and ex-serving ADF personnel.

READ THE FULL REPORT

Publication Release Date: 19 Jan 2018 Author: AIHW

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

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The Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) and the Alliance of Defence
Service Organisations (ADSO) call on the Government to include the Commonwealth
Superannuation Corporation (CSC) in the Terms of Reference of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.

commonwealth superannuation corporation logo

CSC administers military and other superannuation funds for over 700,000 people,
including 230,000 serving and former servicemen and women. Unlike members of
Industry Super Funds who have the ability to switch funds if they are dissatisfied, exservice members of the CSC do not. They are reliant on an external moderator to
ensure fairness and justice.

The Royal Commission is the ultimate arbitrator. Given the magnitude of the CSC influence on the wellbeing of former servicemen and women the RSL and ADSO members consider this represents a compelling reason to include CSC within the Terms of Reference.

CSC is the only significant superannuation entity in Australia to avoid examination.

Allegations exist that CSC is not fully compliant with the Superannuation Industry
Supervision Act. For example, some in the veteran community claim that CSC
misreports invalidity benefits (paid to servicemen and women discharged for medical
reasons) to both the Australian Taxation Office and to the Family Court. And, all too
often, veterans report that CSC fails to respond convincingly to valid approaches by
them seeking clarification of their concerns. A consequence of this practice could result
in veterans (and their families) already suffering trauma being subjected to unwarranted financial and further emotional hardships.

These and other allegations clearly require the same scrutiny as would similar assertions involving industry superannuation funds. The voices of 230,000 serving and former servicemen and women should be heard, not be silenced.

The RSL and ADSO call on the Government to amend the Royal Commission’s Terms
of Reference to include an examination of the military superannuation funds
administered by the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation.

Contacts:
National President RSL: - Robert Dick 0448 889 848

images 48
ADSO National Spokesman: - Kel Ryan 0418 759 120

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British Army Recruitment Campaign Focuses on Islam, Sexual Diversity, Banishes Macho Image

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Top military brass planned to drop the British Army’s famous ‘Be the Best’ recruitment slogan and crossed swords crest, alleging they are “elitist” and “non-inclusive”.
Defence secretary Gavin Williamson stepped in at the eleventh hour to veto the politically correct plans, which were to take effect from January 2017 on the expensively-procured advice of third-party “image consultants”, the Mail on Sunday reports.

“Market research in May 17 found that ‘Be the Best’ did not resonate with many of our key audiences and was considered dated, elitist and non-inclusive,” noted a document title ‘The Army Brand’, produced under the direction of General Sir Nick Carter.

“The ECAB [Executive Committee of the Army Board] therefore agreed that its use should be phased out as soon as affordably possible. The retirement of Be the Best will commence immediately with all planned refreshes of Be the Best branded material cancelled in favour of brand-compliant products.”

The planned overhaul was described as “futile lunacy” by critics, with rebranding costs estimated in the millions at a time when the Armed Forces are facing savage cuts.

“The Defence Secretary believes that the British Army is the best of the best and has put these proposals on hold,” said a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence.

Commons Defence Select Committee chairman Julian Lewis had also spoken against the changes, saying: “Being the best is nothing to be ashamed of – it is a matter for pride and a very positive message to transmit. Why should we be afraid of excellence when we are constantly saying our Armed Forces are the best in the world?”

While the move is likely to prove popular with the Tory Party’s conservative base, which has been frustrated by its leaders’ love affair with social justice and long pressed it to stand up against such politically correct initiatives, some critics have suggested the Defence Secretary effectively vetoing commanders will strain relations between them.

These have deteriorated significantly since the Tories first returned to office in 2010 — initially in coalition with the left-wing Liberal Democrats — and began drastically curtailing the Defence budget, while EU contributions and commitments to the inflexible and often questionably allocated foreign aid budget were protected and steadily increased.

Some veterans defended the Government’s decision, however, with Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander of British Forces in Helmand, Afghanistan, and COBRA Committee member, saying it was “lunacy to squander money on a futile branding project” in a time of cutbacks.

“‘Be the Best’ is popular because it encapsulates the desire for our troops to be better than their enemies,” he explained.

It has never been about them looking down at anyone in society, so any suggestion it is elitist is nonsense. The Army needs to be the best and to know that it is.”

Govt refuses to reveal how long suicidal veterans are kept waiting ... to protect a business

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Govt refuses to reveal how long suicidal veterans are kept waiting ... to protect a business

The government is refusing to reveal how often vulnerable veterans are unable to reach its crisis helpline for ex-service members in order to protect the bottom line of a private contractor, The New Daily can exclusively reveal.

The refusal comes as veterans’ advocates warn of a suicide epidemic among ex-service members, with support group Warrior’s Return estimating at least 84 veterans took their own lives in 2017.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs claims that disclosing the call abandonment rates and wait times for the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service would adversely impact the company that manages the service outside of normal business hours.

In response to a freedom of information request by The New Daily, the DVA said the disclosure would give the contractor’s business rivals information that could be used to out-compete the company.

The New Daily has appealed the decision on public interest grounds.

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Michael McCormack named Veterans' Affairs Minister in Turnbull government reshuffle

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download 9Riverina MP Michael McCormack has been named deputy leader of the house and put in charge of veterans affairs in a pre-Christmas cabinet reshuffle.

He will leave the small business portfolio to take on the role vacated by Dan Tehan, who was moved into the cabinet as Social Services Minister. Former Social Services Minister Christian Porter was promoted to Attorney-General following George Brandis’ departure.

Mr McCormack said the call while he was halfway up a 45-metre tall grain silo north of Wagga.. “Only in Australian politics,” he laughed. “This is a good role, particularly for the Member for Riverina given we’ve got three defence bases in my home city and there are a lot of veterans living in and around the city.”

Mr McCormack was the Assistant Defence Minister prior to the 2016 federal election, when he was given the small business portfolio. His return to the defence sector also brings with it a departmental responsibility.
“I was also named the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Anzac Centenary and given next year is the centenary of the end of the Great War there will be a lot of special events locally, across the nation and around the world,” Mr McCormack said.

"DESERTING OUR DIGGERS" - A CURRENT AFFAIR PROGRAM

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"The Australian government has been accused of deserting the soldiers who put their lives on the line to protect our country.

These brave men and women are left to battle a system in crisis that’s nothing short of a national disgrace."

See last night's ACA TV program here

If you or somebody you know needs help, contact:

  • Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit their website.
  • Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS)  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.

GOVERNMENT'S NEW CABINET & MINISTERIAL APPOINTMENTS

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CABINET

Prime Minister - Malcolm Turnbull

Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure and Transport Minister - Barnaby Joyce

Treasurer - Scott Morrison

Foreign Minister - Julie Bishop

Attorney-General - Christian Porter

Home Affairs Minister - Peter Dutton

Sport, Rural Health and Regional Communications Minister - Bridget McKenzie

Human Services Minister and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Digital Transformations - Michael Keenan

Social Services Minister - Dan Tehan

Agriculture and Water Minister - David Littleproud

Regional Development, Territories and Local Government Minister - John McVeigh

Indigenous Affairs Minister - Nigel Scullion

Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister - Steve Ciobo

Finance Minister and Special Minister of State - Mathias Cormann

Revenue and Financial Services Minister and Minister for Women - Kelly O’Dwyer

Defence Industry Minister - Christopher Pyne

Defence Minister - Marise Payne Resources

Northern Australia Minister - Matt Canavan

Energy and Environment Minister - Josh Frydenberg

Health Minister - Greg Hunt

Communications and Arts Minister - Mitch Fifield

Jobs and Innovation Minister - Michaelia Cash

Education and Training Minister - Simon Birmingham

New Cabinet a19010727027b3c7ae2d0d3bcea632b2

OUTER MINISTRY

Minister for Urban Infrastructure - Paul Fletcher

Minister for International Development and the Pacific - Concetta Fierravanti- Wells

Minister for Small and Family Business, Workplaces and Deregulation - Craig Laundy

Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security - Angus Taylor

Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs - Alan Tudge

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel - Michael McCormack

Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister - Ken Wyatt

ASSISTANT MINISTERS

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister - James McGrath

Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister - Damian Drum

Assistant Minister to the Treasurer - Michael Sukkar

Assistant Minister for Finance - David Coleman

Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment - Luke Hartsuyker

Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs - Zed Seselja

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources - Anne Ruston

Assistant Minister for Vocational Skills and Training - Karen Andrews

Assistant Minister for Children and Families - David Gillespie

Assistant Minister for Immigration - Alex Hawke

Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services - Jane Prentice

Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation - Zed Seselja

Assistant Minister for Environment - Melissa Price

 

DVA SUPPORT SERVICES FOR VETERANS OPEN OVER CHRISTMAS

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Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Simon Lewis said today that crucial support services for the veteran community will continue to be available throughout the Christmas and New Year period.
Mr Lewis said that providing veterans with continued access to support services was particularly important during this festive time of year because it can be a challenging period for many veterans.
“Christmas is a time of celebration for most Australians, but it’s important to remember that for veterans it can bring on a reminder of what has been lost, of the men and women who didn’t make it back home from service overseas and of those continuing to serve our country far from their families and loved ones.
“I wish to reassure veterans and their families that while some DVA services will be reduced during this break, help and support, including mental health support, will remain available throughout the holiday period and they can continue to access crucial DVA services during this time,” Mr Lewis said.

The services that will remain available to veterans include:
Counselling – The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) offers free and confidential, nation-wide counselling and support for current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members and their families. This service is available toll free on 1800 011 046, 24/7.

Access to DVA’s online mental health information and support – Veterans can visit DVA’s At Ease mental health portal wherever they are at www.at-ease.dva.gov.au

Transport – DVA staff will be available to process transport requests for medical treatment between 27–29 December. The transport booking service will be closed on 25–26 December and 1 January. If transport is required during this period but has not been pre-booked, DVA clients can pay for the transport up front and seek reimbursement when offices re-open. Alternatively, transport can be booked and reviewed, and travel expenses can be claimed online through DVA’s MyAccount at https://myaccount.dva.gov.au.

Hospital admissions – Doctors can admit DVA patients into hospital and request retrospective approval for the admission, where required, when DVA resumes full services on 2 January.

Defence Service Homes (DSH) Insurance – Help with policy and claim enquiries is available 24-hours a day on 1300 552 662. Payments can be made on 1300 304 989 or via the DSH website www.dsh.gov.au.

 Pharmaceutical approvals – providers seeking prior approval for pharmaceuticals can call the Veterans’ Affairs Pharmaceutical Advisory Centre (VAPAC) 24-hours a day on 1800 552 580.

All DVA offices will close at the end of business on Friday, 22 December 2017 and will resume full services on Tuesday, 2 January 2018.

Mr Lewis added that there would be no change in pension payment dates this year over the Christmas–New Year period.
“To all members of the veteran and Defence community and their families, on behalf of the Department I wish you all the best for the festive season and 2018,” Mr Lewis said.

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.

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE - THE LONG TAN CROSS

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Media Release from the PM and DVA Minister Dan Tehan - 6th December 2017

"An important piece of Australia’s military history will find a new home after the Vietnamese Government gifted the original Long Tan Cross to Australia.

Australia’s Ambassador to Vietnam Craig Chittick received the Long Tan Cross from the Dong Nai Province People’s Committee at a small ceremony at the Dong Nai Museum in Biên Hòa last month. An Australian Defence Force member then travelled with the cross on its journey to Australia.

AWM Group Wed 6 Dec 2017

L to R - Tehan, Dinham, Sabben, Roberts, Turnbull and Nelson.

The Australian Government thanks the Government of Vietnam for its generous gift.

The Long Tan Cross was erected by Australian soldiers as a memorial to their fellow diggers who fought and died at the Battle of Long Tan on 18 August 1966, Australia’s most costly single engagement in the Vietnam War. It was removed from the Long Tan battle site some time after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. It was reportedly used as a memorial for a Vietnamese Catholic priest until the 1980s when it was restored and eventually placed on display by the Dong Nai Province Museum in Biên Hòa in the late 1990s.

Approximately 60,000 Australian men and women served in the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1975, including 521 who lost their lives and more than 3,000 who were wounded.

For many Australians, the Long Tan Cross has come to symbolise our involvement in the Vietnam War. It is a powerful memorial to the service and suffering of Australian soldiers.

Thanks to the generosity of the Vietnamese Government, the Cross will now remain in Australia for perpetuity where it will be honoured, as we honour the men and women who served in the Vietnam War. The Long Tan Cross will go on display at its new permanent home at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra from 6 December."

For full details of the Long Tan Cross see Dave Sabben's Pictorial History of the Long Tan Cross

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

Opinion - Molan to Keep Senate Alert

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Commentatort Ross Eastgate opines that IF and when accidental senator Jim Molan is sworn in by Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, Australia’s currently dysfunctional parliament will likely experience a renaissance.

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Molan should never have been an accidental senator save for NSW Liberal Party factional bastardry which relegated the decorated former soldier to the difficult third place on the ballot.
The NSW Liberals should have taken more notice of another soldier-politician the Duke of Wellington, who said “the hardest thing of all for a soldier is to retreat”.
In the unrepresentative circus that Australia’s Senate has become, Molan will be a blast of uncompromising fresh air.

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TEHAN - JOINT COMMUNIQUE Veterans’ Ministers meeting

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JOINT COMMUNIQUE - Veterans’ Ministers meeting

Dan Tehan

The second Roundtable of Ministers responsible for veteran issues has reinforced the need to coordinate effort across all levels of government to ensure the successful transition of those Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel moving from military to civilian life.

.Issues discussed at the Roundtable included improved transition, mental health and suicide prevention, improving employment outcomes for veterans, veteran accommodation and assisting veterans who had been incarcerated.

The Roundtable was updated on initiatives in the Federal budget to enhance veteran rehabilitation and transform the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) as well as the expanded package of mental health support worth $31 million that was announced as part of the Government’s response to the Senate Inquiry into veterans’ suicide.

A commitment by all governments was given to information sharing across agencies to assist in improving transition across all jurisdictions.

States and Territories agreed to examine the feasibility of collecting data on veteran incarceration and to promote non-liability health care for any mental health condition to those who have served one day in the full-time ADF.

As a step towards destigmatising Post Traumatic Stress, Ministers agreed to refrain from using the term disorder and agreed to encourage their ministerial health colleagues to do the same.

The Roundtable supported the establishment of a Veteran Support Services Accreditation Association that would enable Ex Service Organisations delivering services to veterans to obtain formal accreditation.

The Roundtable reached consensus on a common definition of veteran that is to be recognised by all jurisdictions. It was agreed that a veteran would be defined as ‘a person who is serving or has served in the ADF’. Ministers agreed use of the term veteran should not be limited by the definitions contained in existing legislation.

Ministers agreed there needed to be a question about veterans in the next Australian Census. This will assist all levels of government to better support services and support to veterans and their families.

Ministers agreed to establish a working party to explore the harmonisation of veterans’ concessions across jurisdictions.

The Ministers also agreed to mark the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day in 2018 with a nation-wide campaign to acknowledge a minute’s silence at 11am.

The next Veterans’ Ministers’ Roundtable in 2018 will occur in conjunction with the Transition Symposium and the Invictus Games in Sydney.

Federal Minister for Veterans' Affairs the Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Veterans Affairs New South Wales the Hon David Elliott MP, Minister for Veterans Victoria the Hon John Eren MP, Minister for Housing, Veterans Issues and Youth Western Australia the Hon Peter Tinley AM MLA, Government Whip South Australia the Hon Tom Kenyon MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, Community and Veterans’ Affairs Tasmania Ms Sarah Courtney MP, Minister for Veterans Australian Capital Territory Mr Gordon Ramsay MLA and Assistant Minister for Veterans Affairs representing the Chief Minister Northern Territory Mr Tony Sievers MLA attended the Roundtable. Given Queensland is in caretaker mode, Queensland was represented by the Department. 

8 November 2017

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.

 

HEALTH - Online Program Gives Veterans Tools To Thrive

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RAL Qld Branch

Veterans struggling with transition and mental health issues will be able to access online peer-to-peer support through a new pilot partnership from RSL Queensland and Survive to Thrive Nation.

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The pilot will enable veterans to access the Post War: Survive to Thrive personal development coaching program.

RSL Queensland General Manager Scott Denner said Survive to Thrive provided a valuable forum for veterans to build resilience and regain control of their lives.
“A significant difference with the Survive to Thrive program is that it has been developed by a veteran to address the issues he was facing in his own life,” Mr Denner said.
“There is sometimes a perception among veterans that civilian health professionals cannot understand what they are going through, but they can recognise the military mindset that underlies the Survive to Thrive program.
“As well as providing personal development coaching, Survive to Thrive allows veterans to connect with others who have been through similar experiences and come out the other side.”
“It is also a great option for veterans who are living in rural or remote areas, who may have limited access to face-to-face support programs,” Mr Denner said.
He said an independent evaluation by the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation (GMRF) indicated that veterans experienced positive outcomes after participating in the program, particularly if combined with clinical therapies.

Survive to Thrive founder and former infantry soldier Dane Christison said he had developed the program after suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) himself.

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“I began clinical treatment, but I found the courses and programs were tailored for civilians; they didn’t answer the questions I had,” Mr Christison said.
“It wasn’t until I stopped blaming everyone else and took back the power for my own recovery that I began to see how I could move forward.
“Survive to Thrive teaches participants to accept their situation but not tolerate it. We give them the training structure and tools to allow them to take control of their own recovery and boost their wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem.”

Former Army bomb disposal technician Corey Stamp said Survive to Thrive had made a big difference in his life since he discharged two years ago.
“It was what I needed when I got out,” Mr Stamp said.
“I had a breakdown after my first tour of Afghanistan in 2010 but I wanted to go back so I just suppressed everything I was feeling.
“To a certain extent, Defence provides a safety blanket – losing that, combined with losing the routine and all my mates was a real shock to the system.
“Survive to Thrive gave me back the structure that I was missing from Defence, as well as giving me the strength to take ownership of what I was going through and to stop playing the victim,” he said.

Mr Denner said through the pilot program, RSL would provide licences to eligible veterans who might not otherwise be able to afford the program.
“Veterans will get ongoing 24/7 access to the Survive to Thrive portal, including eight coaching modules and an online support group where participants encourage, inspire and motivate each other.”
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Veterans interested in the program should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.survivetothrivenation.com/contact-us

DVA - Accessing mental health support, abuse compensation made simpler

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Advice From DVA that can be used as an Information article for distribution to our Defence Family.

Are you struggling to cope because of something that happened to you in the Australian Defence Force (ADF)?

All current and former members of the ADF who have at least one day continuous full-time service, including Reservists, are able to access treatment for any mental health condition. The condition does not have to be related to ADF service and a diagnosis is not required.

To access treatment, call 1800 555 254 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service also provides the veteran community and their families with specialist free counselling and group programs.

This service is available at all times by phoning 1800 011 046, or via its website at www.vvcs.gov.au.

If your condition relates to having been sexually or physically abused while serving, DVA has introduced measures that may make it simpler for you to access compensation and to receive the mental health support you need.

DVA has broadened the use of statutory declarations as part of abuse compensation claims, making it possible for such a declaration to constitute sufficient evidence to establish that abuse took place, in some instances.

For example, if you were abused before 11 April 2011 and you were a child at the time, a statutory declaration alone will now be sufficient to establish that an abuse event occurred (provided that there is no contradictory evidence).

Please note, however, that if you were an adult at the time of the abuse, or the abuse took place after 11 April 2011, supporting evidence will also be required in addition to a statutory declaration. A statutory declaration in these instances will be taken as strong evidence in favour of the claim.

Claims will be determined on the basis of all available evidence.

These changes make it easier to prove that abuse occurred, if it was not reported at the time. This change will benefit those who may not have reported abuse at the time it occurred or may never have previously spoken about it.

DVA has established dedicated teams to manage all new claims relating to sexual and physical abuse, ensuring that all claims are managed with sensitivity and discretion.

REMEMBERING KOKODA 75 YEARS ON

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30 October 2017

TehanDan
On the 2 November 75 years ago, Australian soldiers retook the village of Kokoda in Papua New Guinea.

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Between July and November 1942, Australian forces fought the numerically stronger Japanese in abysmal conditions along the Kokoda Track, sustaining more than 600 dead and more than 1,600 wounded or struck down by illness or disease.

The Australians forced the Japanese into retreat, culminating in battles at the Beachheads which came at an enormous cost — more than 1,200 Australian lives lost and more than 2,000 wounded.

Today, I ask all Australians to pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice of these great Australians and of all those who served on the Kokoda Track and at the Beachheads during the Second World War.

We also remember the estimated 50,000 Papuan civilians who provided supplies to Australian soldiers and evacuated our sick and wounded.

Lest we forget.

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