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 

ALP MEDIA RELEASE - MINISTER FAILS DEFENCE COMMUNITY ON MEFLOQUINE

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ALP OPINION PIECE  from THE HON AMANDA RISHWORTH MP, SHADOW MINISTER FOR VETERANS’ AFFAIRS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR DEFENCE PERSONNEL and MEMBER FOR KINGSTON

HWA

This opinion piece was first published by the Townsville Bulletin on Thursday, 23 February 2017.

MINISTER FAILS DEFENCE COMMUNITY ON MEFLOQUINE

Last year the Government put out a media release which sought to relieve the concerns of many if the ADF and ex-service community of the anti-malarial drug, Mefloquine. Their ability to deliver on this has been underwhelming.

An anti-malarial, once used in ADF drug trials and now used as a third-string prescription drug, Mefloquine has been used in the Australian Defence Force for defence personnel deploying to high-risk malarial environments.

Included in the lining of his media release was four specific ways in which the Government would address the communities concerns of Mefloquine. Namely, these included community consultation to provide an open dialogue between DVA and Defence to the ex-service and ADF community, a comprehensive online resource, a dedicated Mefloquine support team and an inter-departmental DVA-Defence Links Committee to examine issues raised and provide advice to the Government by November 2016.

It is now mid-February 2017 and if the Government has received advice from the committee, it has not made it public. The communities’ ability to engage in open dialogue with the Defence Link Committee is stymied by their ability to contact them and the online resource is not a one-stop shop for those who have real concerns on Mefloquine. Rather, this website engages some basic information on Mefloquine and there are questions around the resourcing of the team in DVA and the process of referrals to specialists.

The Government’s ability to address the concerns of Mefloquine has fallen short and veterans and the ex-service community are left in the dark. Transparency and engagement with the veterans and ex-service community would see a better response from
Government. Instead, the Minister continues to hide behind a media release, which has now expired with his own November deadline.

There is no doubt anti-malarial’s are a crucial component of malaria prevention for our deployed personnel. Our ADF personnel require all the support they need in order to ensure their health and safety is first and foremost. The Government’s ability to meet the concerns of some in the community is not seen as a priority.

 

DVA Annual Report 2015-2016

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See the 2015-2016 Annual Report here.

This is a valuable reference document that provides valuable data for our researchers. 

The 2016 -2017 Report will be released in September 2017. That report when compared to the 2015-2016 Report will give us a good understanding of DVA"s current Transformation success.

Australian Vietnam Veterans Mortality Listing - Request for Assistance

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This is a request from John “Mac” McGovern Ex 4Platoon, B Company 4 RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Battalion 2nd tour for your help.

"Hello there,
As you are probably aware, 2nd tour B Company 4 RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Battalion members are taking over where the 1st tour guys left off, in keeping up the list of Mortality Files of Vietnam Veterans.

All services (Navy/Army /Air Force) are included in the mortality list.

I am seeking your help in:
(a) Providing us with notifications of a veteran’s death by completing the Notification form on the website (www.amvif.info) and

(b) Checking the list for your relevant unit to try to complete the yellow highlighted sections with accurate information, and then forwarding it to us by using the site email address (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Please try to be as exact as possible with the cause of death. “Passed away peacefully” is not a cause of death. We do realise that some of this information may not be available, but every bit of information sent will be included in the person’s entry on the list.

Future research by any relative or member of the public will be made a lot easier if the information is accurate and complete.

The web address is as follows www.amvif.info

The email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thank you in anticipation of your assistance"

2017 Domestic and Overseas Commemorations

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Dan TehanMinister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said 2017 would feature a number of significant military commemorations to recognise the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have fought to defend our country.

Registration to attend overseas commemorations is now open and passes are provided at no cost. Details on how to register are available on DVA’s website at www.dva.gov.au. Passes are not required to attend domestic commemorations.

In Australia, commemorations will be held for 75th anniversaries of Second World War events, the Fall of Singapore, the Battle of the Coral Sea, Bomber Command operations, the Battle of Milne Bay, the Battle of El Alamein and the culmination of the North Africa campaigns, and Kokoda and the Beachheads. A commemoration will also be held to recognise the 70th anniversary of the contribution made by Australian peacekeepers and peacemakers around the world.

Overseas, Australia will commemorate the 100th anniversaries of the Battle of Bullecourt in France, the Battle of Polygon Wood in Belgium and the Battle of Beersheba in Israel from the First World War.

The Australian Government will support Anzac Day Dawn Services in France, Turkey, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Borneo in 2017.

On 25 April, the commemoration of the Centenary of the Battle of Bullecourt will be recognised in a service at the ‘Digger Memorial’ in the Australian Memorial Park in Bullecourt. More than 1,100 Australians were taken prisoner during the Battle of Bullecourt — the largest number captured in a single engagement during the First World War.

A commemoration to mark the Centenary of the Battle of Polygon Wood will be held at Buttes New British Cemetery in Zonnebeke, Belgium on 26 September 2017. Polygon Wood was one of five battles in which Australians were involved as part of the larger British and dominion offensive known as the Third Battle of Passchendaele. In eight weeks of fighting there were 38,000 Australian casualties.

On 31 October 2017, in Israel, a commemoration will recognise the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba, and the famous charge of the 4th Light Horse Brigade. At sunset on 31 October 1917, the light horsemen charged the Turkish lines using their bayonets as swords; the momentum of the surprise attack carried them through the Turkish defences and more than 1,000 prisoners were taken.

In 2017 Australia will also mark its other days of national commemoration including Battle for Australia Day, Merchant Navy Day and Remembrance Day.

“As a nation we continue to honour the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have served in defence of our nation,” Mr Tehan said.
“It is incredibly moving to stand on a foreign field where Australians have fought and died for our values and reflect on the enormous debt we owe to the men and women who serve in our military.
“Many Australians will be planning overseas trips this year to attend a commemoration service and pay their respects and I encourage them to register early.”

A list of key domestic and international commemorations for 2017 is HERE

Kel Ryan Opinion - Make the RSL Great Again

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This is Part 2 to Kel Ryan's previous article The RSL Must Embrace Change Or Die

“The usual thing among men is that when they want something they will, without any reflection, leave that to hope, while they will employ the full force of reason in rejecting what they find unpalatable". Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War

The challenge to solving a problem is first to recognise that there is one. The leadership of the RSL is mute to its present situation despite the rapidly declining membership, an aging membership and the almost daily establishment of new, more dynamic veterans' representative organisations.

Why is this so?

Why cannot the national leadership see what so many members of the Australian Defence community can see? Put simply the leadership is in denial. They are content with the status quo and their place in it.

Let us be clear on one thing in this developing discussion about the future of the RSL. The RSL as a national organisation must survive. It must remain as an integral part of the voice of the veteran community. There are too many good men and women working within it at the sub-branch level who are its face, its soul and often its best marketing tool. It is they that are being let down by a national leadership that has failed to articulate a vision for the RSL in the 21st century.

What is to be done?

The future of the RSL lies in it becoming a truly national organisation reflecting the organisational and governance practices of the 21st century.

Some years ago, the Queensland and Victorian branches of the RSL contributed $30,000 each to RSL National for a strategic review into the national organisation. Consultants were commissioned, views were canvassed and a report submitted. Nothing was heard of the report until this writer asked for a copy of the report. “No, you cannot have it as it was not what we wanted!

This response by the then President Ken Doolan’s sums up the challenge the RSL has in facing the future. The leadership denies the evidence as it is not what they wanted. Other such reports and studies over the years have met a similar fate.

A refresher course in the Military Appreciation process is a good place for the national leadership to start in defining the future course for the National RSL. The Military appreciation is a logical process of reasoning with the aim of determining the best or the better course of action in any given circumstance.

It requires thinking outside of the square, outside of the past and into the future. It demands a flexibility of thought that the membership is yet to see coming from the present leadership.

The RSL is a national organisation in the minds of many. A wide ranging exhaustive strategic review, including input from across the membership and from outside the organisation is a good place to start. In such a review the views of the national leadership do not warrant special deference. Constructive input from both the membership, the other ex-service organisations and the broad public must be sought. This is not a time to hunker down below the parapet, shun public discussion and hope that all will peter out. Good men and women must step forward.

The various state branches need to develop their views on the future also. Do they want a national organisation that represents to government?  Do they want a national office that is able to work in concert with the other ex-service organisations in projecting a united voice? Do they want a future for the RSL? What will be their legacy?

Now is the time for the RSL leadership to regain and to dominate in the art of political advocacy so effectively practiced by those leaders who sprang from the AIF era. They lobbied, they persevered and they forced government to listen to the voice of the nation’s warriors.
They were not mollified by countless media releases on nebulous issues or meaningless speeches. They spoke on issues that the membership wanted them to speak: the protection of their wellbeing and their service entitlements; national defence; national infrastructure; national unity; and loyalty and national pride. They, on the membership's behalf, had earned the right to address such issues. Today the leadership is mute.

I ask that the RSL leadership not be overwhelmed by the task. The future of this great organisation is in your hands. Don’t let the membership and the broader ex-service community down by shirking the challenge.

Kel Ryan is a Life Member of the RSL and had held elected office at sub-branch and state Branch level. He has also been Chair of the Queensland Forum of Ex-Service Organisations for five years, President of the Royal Australian Regiment Association in Queensland and is currently the Vice President of the Defence Force Welfare Association Far North Queensland. His PhD research is addressing the issue of ‘advocacy and the Australian Defence Community'

Opinion - Trump team to do unto others

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Opinion - Ross Eastgate - 21January 2017

By the time you read this President Donald Trump will have been sworn in as the 45th US president.

He will also be US military commander-in-chief, by some assessments the most powerful position in the world.

Before those of you so inclined start frantically digging bunkers in your back yards, the sun will have risen as normal and there will not have been a rosy glow on the distant, northern horizon.

For the ADF and the US military apparatus it will be business as usual, at least for the foreseeable future.
Standing arrangements for sharing intelligence, joint training and interoperability will continue as they have done for the last several decades.
There will be changes.
The future of the F35 Joint Strike Fighter project in which the RAAF has a considerable interest has been challenged by Trump over its escalating costs, not to mention dubious performance of the platform.

Trump has signalled closer ties with Russia and also that the US will confront Chinese strategic manoeuvring in the western Pacific.

Trump’s selection of retired US Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis as defence secretary is a clear indication this administration will take an entirely different position on military strategy and tactics.

mattis

Mattis is a complex mix of intellectual historian and experience warfighter who believes in both intimidation and the use of force to achieve strategic outcomes

READ MORE



James N. Mattis US Defence Secretary for President Elect Trumps' Cabinet

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fourstar

The selection of Gen. James N. Mattis as defense secretary signals a more assertive American posture in the Middle East. Read More

And listen to the 2015 interview Uncommon Knowledge: Retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis ... it provides the General’s insights on the nature and history of war and candid  comments on USA's strategic directions and the US engagements since the Second World War including Iraq, Iran, ISIL etc.  Especially listen to his answers to the two final questions: The cost of war?; and Why a career in the military is worthwhile?

Business backs Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program

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9 January 2017

Media Release - Business backs Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Dan Tehan has called for more Australian businesses and ex-service organisations to step up and support the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program.

Dan Tehan

Mr Tehan said 23 organisations had registered their interest in participating in the Industry Advisory Committee and eight ex-service organisations had registered to participate in the program since its launch in November. A number of companies have also expressed interest in offering employment opportunities to veterans.

The Industry Advisory Committee will develop information for business on how to embed veteran employment strategies into their recruitment processes. The Committee will also play a role in promoting the skills former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel can offer employers.

“The key aim of the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program is to raise awareness in the private sector about the unique skills and experience our former ADF personnel can bring to business. We want to encourage businesses large and small to take a closer look at our veterans and realise their skills can help a business grow and succeed,” Mr Tehan said.

“We have seen an excellent response from Australian businesses and ex-service organisations wanting to help our veterans find meaningful jobs that utilise their unique skills and I encourage more business leaders to register their interest in the program.
“The men and women who serve in Australia’s armed forces are the best in the world and during their service many acquire formal trade or professional qualifications that are recognised in the civilian workforce.
“They also gain unique skills such as problem-solving, leadership, team work and the ability to work in high-pressure environments and live by core ADF values such as honesty, honour, initiative, integrity, respect and loyalty.
“Developing strategies to recognise and transfer the talents of our former ADF personnel to the private sector will be good for business and good for our veterans, so we need even more people providing valuable leadership in this area.”

Mr Tehan said the Government had created an employment information page for veterans on its jobactive website and added a ‘defence force experience desirable’ flag for vacancies, as announced at the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program launch. 

A chairperson for the Industry Advisory Committee will be announced in February with a first meeting scheduled for late March 2017.

The inaugural Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Annual Awards to recognise the success of Australian businesses employing veterans will be held later this year.

Any business or ex-service organisation that would like to register for the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program should email 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 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 45 46). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

Quadrant Article - Warmism’s Martial Plan

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"Obama declines to bomb an ISIS convoy because burning trucks will boost CO2 emissions ... Australia's defence wallahs fret about rising seas and drowning air bases ... alarmist ratbaggery distorts strategy and budgets. Military effectiveness has a new enemy: the climate-scam crowd."

This 31 December 2016 essay by Tony Thomas is highly recommended. It looks at the status quo with environmentalism in the US military, and the recent flow-ons to Australia and outlines what happens when the military gets climate-minded as played out in Syria.

READ MORE as well as the Comments

 

USA Presidential Election - Here’s Where Clinton And Trump Stand On Veterans Issues

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These are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's current plans for veterans, service members, and their families if elected president.

On Health Care the Trump administration released its 10-point plan to fix the VA. Under this plan, Trump plans to appoint a new VA secretary; fire incompetent VA employees; create a private White House hotline, which will be active 24 hours a day; allow veterans to choose private care in lieu of the VA; increase the number of mental health care professionals; and modernize the VA technologically.

READ TRUMP'S VISION AND 10 POINT PLAN HERE

Optimising mental health and quality of life for Australia’s military personnel and veterans with PTSD

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download 28

The RESTORE trial is now recruiting volunteers

Do you believe you may have developed PTSD during or after your military service?

If so, you may like to consider participating in a new treatment trial – the RESTORE trial (i.e., Rapid Exposure Supporting Trauma Recovery). This trial will be conducted from four sites: Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) offices in Brisbane and Sydney, the ADF Centre for Mental Health in Sydney, and Phoenix Australia in Melbourne.

This trial will investigate whether an intensive delivery of prolonged exposure therapy, involving 10 sessions over a two week period, will deliver outcomes which are comparable to standard prolonged exposure treatment. Early evidence suggests that intensive exposure therapy is as effective as the standard approach, but to date there have been no rigorous studies comparing the effectiveness of the two options in a real-world clinical setting.

What is the RESTORE trial?

This research is investigating one of the most effective treatments for PTSD – prolonged exposure. Prolonged exposure therapy is a gold standard evidence-based treatment for PTSD. In its current form it requires weekly treatment for 10 weeks. However, this period of time can be difficult for ex-serving ADF personnel to commit to.

We want to see whether a new intensive form (daily sessions for two weeks) is as effective as the standard form (one session a week for 10 weeks).

What will the RESTORE trial involve?

If you are eligible for the trial, you will be allocated randomly to one of two groups. You will need to make a commitment to attend all 10 treatment sessions (either weekly or daily, depending on the group you are allocated to). Each session will be of 90 minutes duration. In both groups, high quality treatment will be delivered by experienced clinicians. There will be no cost for the treatment you receive in the trial.

How do I sign up?

If you would like to participate, please contact the Trial Intake Officer on: 1800 856 824
Or register your interest via email.
REGISTER YOUR INTEREST

Why is the RESTORE trial important?

Over one million Australians a year suffer from PTSD, and current and ex-serving military personnel are affected at higher rates than the general community.

PTSD is a seriously disabling condition which can cause high levels of distress, problems in relationships with family and friends, a reduced ability to work, as well as high long-term healthcare costs.

We know prolonged exposure therapy is an effective treatment, but we also know that veterans may be unable to allocate the 10 weeks required for treatment. If we can achieve the same benefits in two weeks of intensive treatment, it will make prolonged exposure more accessible for those who need it.

What are the benefits?

We hope you will see an improvement in your PTSD symptoms and your quality of life. In addition, you will be helping the broader military and veteran community both in Australia and overseas by improving our understanding of effective treatments.

Who is conducting the RESTORE trial?

Phoenix Australia – Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health is conducting this randomised controlled trial of prolonged exposure therapy for PTSD. The trial is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Department of Defence, in partnership with VVCS.

Support available for veterans with drug and alcohol dependencies

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Dan Tehan

21 December 2016

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today announced the establishment of a panel of community-based providers to help treat members of the veteran community experiencing alcohol and other drug (AOD) use disorders.
Mr Tehan said the panel broadened the range of AOD treatment services in the community sector the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) would pay for clients to access because the providers had been able to demonstrate that their treatments work.
"The treatments offered through the panel will complement the services already provided by hospitals, the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) and private practitioners registered through Medicare," Mr Tehan said.
"They will offer varying degrees of support, including early intervention and an evidence-based, staged approach that ranges from counselling and group day programs to case management and follow up after care, allowing support to be tailored to an individual’s needs."
In order to access these services, individuals must be eligible for treatment and be referred through a medical practitioner, VVCS, a hospital discharge planner or other DVA allied mental health providers.
As part of an open tender process, providers had to demonstrate capability, capacity and experience, including current accreditation to industry quality standards and the ability to meet DVA’s Core Service Standards for the Provision of AOD services to the Veteran Community.
A list of organisations that are on the panel is available at DVA’s online mental health portal, At Ease .
Mr Tehan said the expansion of non-liability healthcare in this year’s Budget to make mental health treatment free for post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and AOD disorders meant a greater number of Australian Defence Force (ADF) members could access treatment for AOD use disorders.
"DVA can pay for treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and alcohol and substance use disorders without an individual having to prove the condition is linked to their military service," Mr Tehan said.
"The increased eligibility means treatment is available to anyone who has served one day as a full-time member of the ADF. Funding for treatment is demand driven and not capped.
"Anyone who requires treatment for AOD use disorders should call DVA on 133 254 or 1800 555 254 for regional callers."

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.

Release of Government response to Vietnam Veterans’ Family Study

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Dan Tehan

20 th December 2016

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today released the Australian Government’s response to the Vietnam Veterans’ Family Study.

The Vietnam Veterans’ Family Study compared the physical, mental and social wellbeing of two groups of Australian veterans: 10,000 randomly selected Army Vietnam veterans and their families with 10,000 randomly selected Defence personnel who served in the Army during the Vietnam War era but did not deploy to Vietnam and their families.

Mr Tehan said the Government response to the study had been developed after extensive consultation with the veteran community through the Ex-Service Organisation Round Table (ESORT).
The ESORT put forward several recommendations, which the Government considered in consultation with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) and the Department of Defence (Defence). The major themes that emerged from the consultation were:
- further improvements to mental health services, including education and communication;
- increased collaboration between DVA and Defence, particularly as members transition out of the Australian Defence Force (ADF); and
- further research into the impact of military service on current and former serving members and their families.
“Tackling the mental health challenges facing veterans and their families is a key priority for the Government,” Mr Tehan said.

“Defence and DVA have made significant improvements to the provision of mental health care since the Vietnam era, and this was acknowledged by members of the ESORT during consultation.

“From July 1 2016, mental health treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and alcohol and substance abuse disorders is free for anyone who has served at least one day in the permanent ADF.

“Defence and DVA are working closely together on a broad range of issues, and the transition period is a key focus of the increased collaboration.

“Transition management is a priority issue for the Prime Ministerial Advisory Council on Veterans’ Mental Health and the Government will ensure that no ADF personnel are discharged without all their necessary documentation.

“DVA and Defence are also collaborating on the $5 million Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme to examine the impact of contemporary military service on the mental, physical and social health of serving, ex-serving ADF personnel, and their families.
“This research includes the Family Wellbeing Study, investigating the challenges experienced by families of transitioned ADF members and comparing those challenges to those experienced by families of current serving members.

“In direct response to the ESORT feedback, DVA will commission a research project to analyse the data gathered in the Vietnam Veterans’ Family Study about the effects of military service on spouses and partners.”

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.

VETERAN SUPPORT SERVICES CONTINUE OVER CHRISTMAS

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Veterans can be assured that access to crucial support services will continue to be available throughout the Christmas and New Year period, Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Simon Lewis said today.

Mr Lewis said that providing continued access to support services was very important during the festive season, especially as many of our veterans find this time of year challenging.
"While Christmas can be a time of celebration for most Australians, for veterans it can be an unpleasant reminder of all that was lost – a reminder of the men and women who didn’t make it back home 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 DVA services will be reduced during this break, help and 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 tha that will remain available to veterans include

:- Counselling – The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) offers 24-hour crisis counselling. This service is available toll free on 1800 011 046 to veterans of all conflicts and their families.

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

- Transport – DVA staff will be available to process transport requests for medical treatment between 28–30 December. The transport booking service will be closed on 26–27 December and 2 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 3 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, 23 December 2016 and resume full services on Tuesday, 3 January 2017.

"Payments will be paid into clients’ nominated financial institutions as normal on Thursday, 22 December 2016. The first pension payment in 2017 will be on schedule on Thursday, 5 January 2017.

"To all members of the veteran, Defence and ex-service communities, on behalf of the Department I wish you all the best for the festive season and 2017," Mr Lewis said.

19 December 2016

MEDIA ENQUIRIES:
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.

Support and Legals