Tehan Media Release - Honouring Australian Peacekeepers

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Honouring Australian peacekeepers

Dan Tehan

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said the nation honoured the service of more than 30,000 men and women who have participated in peacekeeping operations since 1947 on National Peacekeepers Day today.

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Mr Tehan said 14 Australians had died on peacekeeping operations.
"Today we acknowledge all those Australians who have served, and continue to serve, in the United Nations and other multilateral peace and security operations,” Mr Tehan said.

“Australian military personnel, police and civilians have played important roles in assisting those whose lives have been blighted by war and conflict around the globe.
“These men and women take on the difficult challenge and significant responsibility of maintaining an often fragile peace, sometimes standing between warring parties in unsafe environments.

“Their work has included providing electoral and logistics support, ceasefire monitoring, landmine clearance, military observation and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid.”

Australia has made a significant contribution to worldwide peace operations, including commanding operations in Kashmir, Cambodia, the Sinai, Iraq and East Timor. Australians have served in Bougainville, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Haiti, Somalia and Sierra Leone, among many others. Currently, Australians are deployed on operations in the Middle East, Cyprus and South Sudan.

14 September 2016

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.

Tehan Media Release - World Suicide Prevention Day

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Dan Tehan

10 September 2016

Bravery comes in many forms.

There is the bravery of the men and women who serve in our armed forces who knowingly put their own life at risk in defence of our country. And there is bravery in asking for help and bravery in asking someone you know if they need help, no matter how uncomfortable that conversation.

We all need to be brave and these conversations can be difficult. Suicide and mental health are issues for everyone in our society, including our veterans. On World Suicide Prevention Day, my message to all serving Defence personnel and veterans is that help is available now and if you think you need it, or someone you know needs it — please ask for help.

Today — right now — any veteran, Australian Defence Force (ADF) member or their family members can pick up the phone and call the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1800 011 046 to access free and confidential Australia-wide counselling and support for war and service-related mental health conditions.

For current serving members, or families who are concerned about an ADF member, support is also available on the ADF All-Hours Support Line on 1800 628 036 or via the ADF Health and Wellbeing Portal ‘Fighting Fit’.

Free mental health treatment is available now to all current and former permanent members of the ADF for a range of conditions, including for PTSD, depression, anxiety, and alcohol and substance use disorders. To access this service 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.

OPINION - ROSS EASTGATE - Adverse effects of malaria drug

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Ross Eastgate

ROSS EASTGATE, Townsville Bulletin
September 8, 2016

OCCASIONALLY words used inadvisably come back to bite you.

The Australian Malaria Institute, an Australian Army unit says on its website, “Mefloquine is a safe and effective medication suitable for use as malaria prophylaxis.”

Abraham Lincoln said: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Winston Churchill said: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

Last week former British army chief General Richard Dannatt said his son Bertie suffered mental health problems after taking just two doses of Lariam – the brand name for mefloquine – before visiting Africa as a civilian in the late 1990s.

Bertie was not then in the armed forces, but had been prescribed the drug by his father’s army doctor.

“He became extremely depressed,” the now Baron Dannatt told the BBC, “not the person that he would normally be – a very bubbly, personable sort of individual.

“He got very withdrawn, and we got very worried about him.

“If that had been untreated, who knows where it would have gone?”

He then said: “Because Bertie had that effect, whenever I’ve needed antimalarial drugs, I’ve said, ‘I’ll take anything, but I’m not taking Lariam’.”

And no doctor who bothered to read the manufacturer’s advice on contraindications should ever have considered prescribing it for him.

In November 1977 aged just 26 then Captain Richard Dannatt suffered a major stroke which should have ended his army career.

A stroke is a cardiovascular acquired brain injury (ABI).

On the cautionary advice given by Lariam’s manufacturer Roche it would have precluded him from taking the drug.

Yet as army chief and despite his own experiences he continued to recommend its use by others in the British Army.

Dannatt now says he is “quite content to say sorry” to troops who had taken Lariam while he was army chief, admitting the issue had not been treated as a priority.

How retrospectively kind of him.

No one has yet decided who should have carriage for the undeniable adverse consequences of the AMI conducted mefloquine trials, the Department of Defence which owns AMI or the Department of Veterans Affairs which has been lumbered with the tragic consequences.

Yet the Defence hierarchy including the ADF surgeon general herself and their dysfunctional media apparatuses remain in complete denial that antimalarial medication trials in East Timor, Bougainville and elsewhere were neither inappropriately conducted, supervised nor had any significant adverse consequences on those involved.

Despite conflicting opinions it is clear those in the ADF with the responsibility for supervising them cherrypicked advice from the available literature to justify their methodology with disastrous outcomes.

Neither did they appropriately screen all participants nor extract properly informed consent as they were required to do.

International contrary evidence emerging from the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Ireland and now the most senior UK officer formally involved in approving Lariam’s use suggest they were negligent in their actions.

The Australian military medical mafia and their compatriots at AMI are becoming increasingly isolated in their denials of misconduct because at this stage as the whole sorry saga unravels they have most to lose.

Except those who were their guinea pigs. Those responsible for planning and conducting antimalarial trials are engaged in a cover exercise and seem oblivious about the consequences to others they have deliberately drawn into their deceit, including Veterans’ Affairs Minister Dan Tehan and his ministerial staff.

Some words of advice.

If you cover up by word or deed, acts which were negligent or are later proved negligent, then you are complicit in that negligence.

If there were things you should or could have known but later claim you didn’t then you are still complicit.

The Nuremberg defence — I was just following orders — doesn’t cut it.

It’s sometimes cynically said the medical profession buries its mistakes or more conveniently cremates them.

But not always.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, if the devil don’t get you the coroner must.

Not to mention the determination of those most immediately affected to seek appropriate treatment and compensation if not retribution.

You have been told.

Senate Enquiry to investigate Veterans’ Suicides and DVA performance - Jacqui Lambie's success

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JLN Media Statement; 5th September 2016


JLN Independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has won historic support in the Senate for a motion (see below) to establish an independent inquiry and investigation into the performance of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) – especially in relation to crisis in Australian Veterans’ health and rising suicide rates. The Inquiry will report back to the Senate by 30 March 2017.

“My message to veterans and their families, and even members of DVA who want to blow the whistle is: We now have a historic Senate Committee established which will thoroughly investigate the performance of the Department of Veterans Affairs. This will be a chance to tell the truth about the dysfunction within DVA and help stop our veterans from killing themselves.” said Senator Lambie. “Veterans are killing themselves at a rate of one every two weeks. Some reports suggest that the number is 280 since 1999. The government is trying to cover this scandal up through their Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which doesn’t even keep official statistics on the numbers of veteran suicides.

That’s why last week in Parliament I moved a motion that ensured a Senate Committee will investigate why Australian veterans are completing suicide at such high rates. The RSL Tasmanian state executive supported this motion. The Alliance of Defence Service Organisations (ADSO) wholeheartedly supported my motion. And I am grateful that all the Crossbench Senators, Labor and the Greens also supported the motion.

As you are about to see the Liberal government tried to stop my motion and opposed it on the voices, but were too scared to call a division.” said Senator Lambie.

Media Contact 0407 904 134

Motion by Senator Lambie 

THE SENATE PROOF COMMITTEES Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee Reference SPEECH Thursday, 1 September 2016
BY AUTHORITY OF THE SENATE Thursday, 1 September 2016 THE SENATE 37 CHAMBER SPEECH Date Thursday, 1 September 2016 Source Senate Page 37 Proof
Yes Questioner Responder Speaker Lambie, Sen Jacqui Question No. Senator LAMBIE (Tasmania) (12:39):
I seek leave to amend business of the Senate notice of motion No. 3 standing in my name and in the names of Senators Xenophon, Hinch and Culleton for today, proposing a reference to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee, relating to Australian veterans. Leave granted.
Senator LAMBIE: I, and also on behalf of Senators Xenophon, (NXT) Hinch (Justice Party) and Culleton (Pauline Hansons One Nation Party), move the motion as amended: That-
(a) the Senate notes that:
(i) the number of veterans who have served overseas in war and warlike circumstances since 1999 is some 50 000 personnel over 75 000 deployments which is now approaching the number of Australian veterans who served in Vietnam - 60 000 between 1962 and 1972,
(ii) some reports from ex-service organisations and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members suggest that the number of veterans in our community who have committed suicide may be more than 280 veterans since 1999,
(iii) the Turnbull Government must now take steps to acknowledge this crisis among so many ADF veterans, and undertake the necessary research so as to measure the scale of the suicide rate,
(iv) some ex-service organisations and former ADF members believe that the complexity of Australia's military compensation schemes, together with administrative failures and slow decision-making by the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA), is a contributing factor to imposing financial hardship, stress on families, delays in medical treatment, and even homelessness and suicide; Australian Military Compensation Arrangements must be fair and provide former members of the Defence Force and their families who suffer a service injury or disease with a strong system of compensation and other benefits,
(v) media reports and discussions with individual veterans, along with feedback from ex-service organisations have revealed a number of serious issues with the administration, governance and processes of DVA was over five years ago and is now outdated and the Turnbull Government must commit to undertaking a thorough review of DVA, addressing the issues above, and
(vi) the RSL Tasmania State Executive supports the following motion by State President Robert Dick: 'As a society, we have an obligation to ensure that we care for those called upon to serve and defend our country. When there is a failure in the system that looks after and cares for these people, it is important to understand why that failure has occurred and to rectify it to ensure that it doesn't happen again. A Senate inquiry is the most appropriate vehicle to explore these failures and identify the best means to remedy this situation and hold those responsible for the failures to account'; and
(b) the above matters be referred to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee for inquiry and report by 30 March 2017, with particular reference to:
(i) the reasons why Australian veterans are committing suicide at such high rates,
(ii) previous reviews of military compensation arrangements and their failings,
(iii) the Repatriation Medical Authority's Statements of Principles, claims administration time limits, claims for detriment caused by defective administration, authorised medical treatment, level of compensation payments, including defence abuse, as contained in all military compensation arrangements,
(iv) to investigate the progress of reforms within DVA,
(v) the administration of claims by DVA and the legislative or other constraints on effective rehabilitation and compensation for veterans, and
(vi) any other related matters.

Tehan Media Release - Praise for volunteer veterans supporting other veterans

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Dan Tehan

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan praised the veterans who volunteer their time to support other veterans with mental health issues as he toured the Peer to Peer Support Network pilot program in Townsville today 2 September 2016.
Mr Tehan visited the premises of Mates4Mates to meet volunteer mentors taking part in a mental health support trial and to listen to former Defence personnel talk about their experiences.
The program trains veterans with experience of mental illness to be mentors to other veterans seeking help with their mental health.
"We know that veterans experiencing mental health issues who feel supported during their treatment are more likely to make a complete recovery," Mr Tehan said.
"A veteran who has served their country and faced mental health challenges can provide valuable insight and support to another veteran who is just starting their journey to recovery.
"The mentors and the veterans share a common experience and a common language. These mentors can look a veteran in the eye and say, ‘I know what you are going through and there is hope,’ which is a powerful message to deliver.
"The mentors taking part in this trial served their country in the armed forces and are serving their country again by supporting other veterans to get better.
"They are helping break down barriers that may prevent veterans from getting the help they need.
"We want our current and former Australian Defence Force [ADF] members to know that services exist to support them and the Government is working on innovative solutions that will improve those services."

Townsville is one of two centres hosting a 12-month peer-to-peer pilot program to improve veterans’ mental health.
"The Government is also developing a Suicide Prevention Trial Site in Townsville that will be rolled out through the North Queensland Primary Health Network. As part of its work, the trial will focus on veterans’ mental health," Mr Tehan said.
"This will be one of 12 innovative, front-line trial sites in our fight against suicide, which will improve understanding of the challenges and work to develop best-practice services that can be applied nationwide.
"The National Mental Health Commission will shortly start work on its review of suicide and self-harm prevention services across Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
"One suicide is one too many, and as a society we must address mental health issues together to find solutions. The Government has already announced an additional $192 million to tackle the mental health challenges across the whole Australian community.
"The additional investment complements the range of veteran mental health initiatives introduced by the Government, including access to free treatment for a range of mental health conditions for any current or former permanent member of the ADF."
"If you are interested in taking part in the Peer to Peer Support Network pilot program as a Peer Mentor or a Peer and would like further information on how to become involved, please contact Mental Illness Fellowship on (07) 4725 3664 (Townsville) or DefenceCare on (02) 8088 0388 (Sydney)."

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.

Media Release - Government supports veterans and ADF personnel

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11 August 2016


The Turnbull Government will increase support for veterans and ADF members, including an employment initiative to support people moving from military service to civilian life.
We recognise that the transition from the services into civilian life can be challenging for some members, and we are committed to providing the required support to re-enter the workforce. The Prime Minister will host the first Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Initiative in November – bringing together business leaders and veterans to find ways to better use the valuable skills and leadership of former service personnel into our modern economy.

We will ensure ADF members and veterans who face mental health challenges, either during service or once they have left the ADF, can access the mental health services they require.

Today we announce a review of suicide and self-harm prevention services available to veterans and ADF members. The National Mental Health Commission in conjunction with clinical experts and a reference group comprised of current and former members of Defence, will analyse the effectiveness of existing suicide and self-harm prevention services.
One suicide is one too many, and as a society we must address mental health issues together to find solutions. The Government has already announced an additional $192 million to tackle the mental health challenges across our community.

In preparing the Government’s response to the Senate Inquiry into the Mental Health of Australian Defence Force Members and Veterans, it became clear that this was a complex issue that required a forensic examination of how we tackle suicide and self-harm.

The review of services for veterans and Defence personnel announced today will build on this work by providing an independent analysis of the services provided.

The Government is announcing that in North Queensland - home to a large veteran community - the first Suicide Prevention Trial Site will be established. This will occur through the North Queensland Primary Health Network.
 As part of its work, the trial will focus on veterans’ mental health.
This will be one of 12 innovative, front-line trials in our fight against suicide which will improve understanding of the challenges and work to develop best-practice services which we can be applied nationwide.
All of these sites will incorporate a focus on veterans and Defence personnel.
The review will provide an interim report in December and a full report in February next year.
It will consider:
- The range of services available to current and former serving members and their families
- The effectiveness of these services in supporting members and their families while they serve, as they transition from Defence to civilian life, and later in their civilian life
- Any duplication or gaps in current services and how they might be addressed
- Any barriers to current and former serving members accessing services, taking into account cultural relevance, availability of providers, employment, functional capacity and degree of ill health
- The extent to which former serving members utilise services provided by other parts of government, ex-service organisations, the private sector or non-government organisations
- Whether there is balance in the way in which the military experience is understood by and communicated to the Australian community, recognising the impacts that it can have on the mental health of those who have served but also the positive benefits that are derived from the military experience
- The reporting of and incidence of suicide amongst serving and former serving ADF members compared to the broader Australian community.

This review in conjunction with our $6 million investment in the Phoenix Australia Centenary Institute will improve our understanding of mental health challenges and lead to better treatment for our veterans and the wider community.

Our investments complement the $46.4 million for veterans and Defence personnel to access free mental health treatment announced in this year’s budget.

The Government’s response to the Senate Inquiry on the Mental Health of ADF Members and Veterans will be tabled when Parliament resumes.

The Government is funding the national rollout of an alternative dispute resolution and case management system that significantly cuts the time taken to process claims.

The Government has a responsibility to the men and women who defend our liberties. The Government is committed to action on veteran and ADF suicide and is working with the wider veteran community to achieve this.

Media enquiries:
Prime Minister’s office – Mark Simkin 0447 109 062
Minister Tehan’s office – Byron Vale 0428 262 894
Minister Ley’s office – Stephen Block 0428 213 264

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.

OPINION - Political upheaval a chance to be heard

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ROSS EASTGATE, Townsville Bulletin
August 11, 2016

Ross Eastgate

WHETHER the second Turnbull Government lasts a full term or not these are exciting times, as the PM might say, to be an Australian lobbyist.

With such close numbers in either parliamentary chamber or even a joint sitting all political parties have an unequalled opportunity to court and represent a multitude of interests.

Where politics is usually the art of compromise, Australian politics is now the art of opportunity for lobbyists and elected representatives alike.

Politics is also about discipline but with rogue independents in both houses neither the Government nor Opposition can guarantee they have the numbers to pass or block contentious legislation.

For Australia’s wider defence community there has never been a better opportunity to argue those issues which bedevil them, particularly in Townsville where the result in Herbert now makes it Australia’s most marginal electorate.

Although local economic issues were a major factor, it is now an electorate where defence community votes can influence the next election.

While outgoing member Ewen Jones had a sympathetic ear for the defence community his problem was the tin ear of intransigent ministers like Stuart Robert who refused to entertain that community’s concerns when he had the opportunity to do so.

Likewise Labor’s Mike Kelly, the former uniformed lawyer who in government with ministerial responsibility for defence issues put party policy ahead of his former defence colleagues’ interests.

Now returned to the NSW Eden-Monaro electorate it may be a vain hope he has learned a lesson while in the political wilderness.

Incoming Labor members Cathy O’Toole and former infantry officer Luke Gosling in Solomon will have to convince their party’s recalcitrants like Kelly the significant defence communities in their electorates need to be heard, not ignored.

Some issues on which both parties have maintained political intransigence can be simply resolved by administrative fiat, such as altering regulations and entitlements for service medals.

Given Harry Smith’s determination over 50 years to gain recognition for his company at Long Tan, no politician or bureaucrat should underestimate the insistence of other aggrieved veterans to have their service appropriately recognised, including veterans of Rifle Company Butterworth and all personnel involved in border protection operations.

More complex issues such as restoring benefits parity to DFRDB superannuation recipients will require parliamentary intervention, but again no one should underestimate the determination of those lobbying for such measures.

After years being ignored they are now of the view their demands are absolutely not negotiable.

Some issues such as the conduct of antimalarial drug trials will probably require official inquiries or at least fair and impartial hearings before select parliamentary committees.

While ministers Marise Payne and Dan Tehan have retained their defence related portfolios, Labor’s shadow ministers Richard Marles and Amanda Rishworth are untested and will be under pressure to demonstrate their suitability for the roles, not to say some considerable empathy with the wider defence community.

Battle has been joined but with high stakes the defence community must press home its attacks.

There has never been a more opportune moment.


Federal election 2016: Tony Abbott slams Libs’ failure over Jim Molan

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The Liberal Party’s failure to get retired major general and popular conservative candidate Jim Molan elected is a “tragedy for our country”, according to former prime minister Tony Abbott.

Mr Molan was pushed to the unwinnable 7th position on the Coalition’s NSW Senate ticket but received 10,182 first preference votes, the second highest number out of the 12 Liberal and National Party candidates.

Only Defence Minister Marise Payne, who was number one on the Senate ticket, received a higher number with 39,108 votes.

Four sitting Coalition MPs — Fiona Nash, Arthur Sinodinos, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and John Williams — received much fewer votes than Mr Molan but were re-elected because of where they sat on the Senate ticket.

“This is a tragedy for our country and for our party,” Mr Abbott told 2GB radio.

“There are few better men than Jim Molan. He commanded some quarter of a million soldiers in Iraq, the Americans trusted him to the extent that they made him a senior operational on the ground commander. This guy’s commanded more soldiers than any Australian general since World War II and he wasn’t good enough to be higher up our ticket because he didn’t fit the factional mould.

“This is just wrong, it’s just wrong.”

Mr Molan, who commanded allied troops in Iraq in 2004 and co-authored the Abbott government’s controversial Operation Sovereign Borders policy, told The Australian last month he wanted to “democratise the Liberal Party from within”.

“This does show those who want to vote individually will do so,” he said of his high number of first preference votes.

Of the 182 NSW Senate candidates, Mr Molan received the fourth highest vote behind Labor’s Sam Dastyari, Senator Payne and the Greens’ Lee Rhiannon.


Tehan Media Release - Commemorative Program for Vietnam Veterans Day and the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan

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Australians will honour the service and sacrifice of our servicemen and women during the Vietnam War at nationwide commemorative services this month.
The 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan on 18 August — which is also Vietnam Veterans Day — will be the centrepiece of commemorations honouring Australia’s Vietnam War veterans.

Almost 60,000 Australians served in Vietnam from 1962 until 1975, 521 lost their lives and more than 3,000 were wounded. Many more veterans suffered, and continue to suffer, because of their service.
The Battle of Long Tan took place on 18 August 1966. It was the one of the fiercest battles fought by Australian soldiers in the Vietnam War, involving 105 Australians and three New Zealanders from D Company 6RAR. A total of 17 Australians were killed in action and 25 were wounded, one of whom later died of his wounds. D Company were greatly assisted by an ammunition resupply by RAAF helicopters, close fire support from New Zealand's 161 Field Battery, together with additional artillery support from the Australian task force base at Nui Dat, and the arrival of reinforcements in APCs as night fell.

The official program of events will include a Parliamentary Reception on 17 August, and a National Service at the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial in Canberra, followed by a Commemorative Parade at Enoggera Barracks, Brisbane on 18 August.
The Vietnam Veterans Stakeholder Committee, which includes representatives from ex-service organisations, has provided valuable input into planning this year’s commemorations.

Dan Tehan
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan paid tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of the Australians who served in Vietnam.
"This year marks an important milestone in our history as we honour every Australian who served in Vietnam," Mr Tehan said.
"On the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan it’s time for Australia, as a nation, to pay our Vietnam veterans the respect they deserve for the service and sacrifice they gave to our country.
"I encourage everyone to learn more about Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War and to understand the experiences of the men and women who served our country during that period."

The Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia, ACT & District Branch is the lead organisation for this year’s national service at the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial. Its organising committee chair Pete Ryan said the commemorations were an opportunity for the nation to reflect on the Vietnam War.
"The commemorations have been organised by Vietnam veterans for the whole country," Mr Ryan said.
"We are proud to have served our nation and these commemorations will honour every single person who served their country during the Vietnam War."

Mr Tehan paid tribute to the organisations represented on the Vietnam Veterans Stakeholder Committee.
"I thank the Committee for their hard work and congratulate them on an excellent program of commemorations."

The Vietnam Veterans Stakeholder Committee includes representatives from the 6RAR Association; the Returned & Service League of Australia (RSL); the Vietnam Veterans Federation of Australia (VVFA); LTCOL Harry Smith SG, MC (Ret’d); the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Association; the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia (VVAA) and the Long Tan Association.
As part of the 50th anniversary commemorations, the Australian Government will provide financial assistance to Long Tan veterans travelling to Canberra, Brisbane or Vietnam.

Additional information:
17 August, 6.00pm, Parliamentary Reception, Great Hall, Parliament House, Canberra
Organised by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. This evening reception is for Vietnam veterans and their guests. The Colours of 6RAR will be presented, followed by a welcome address and speeches by senior officials and Mr Graham Smith, 6RAR, on behalf of all Vietnam veterans. Performances by John Schumann and a Defence Band.
18 August, 7.00am Stand-to Service, Australian War Memorial, Canberra
Organised by the Australian War Memorial, a ‘Stand-to’ Service similar to the Dawn Service will be held at the Stone of Remembrance in front of the Australian War Memorial.
18 August, 7.30am Breakfast in the Park, Reid Oval, Canberra
Catered by the Lions Club of Canberra, a breakfast for Vietnam veterans and their families supported by Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the ACT Government.
18 August, 10.00am National Service, Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial, Anzac Parade, Canberra
Organised by the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia, ACT & District Branch, with assistance from the Vietnam Veterans Stakeholder Committee. The National Service will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan and Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. All welcome to attend and the service will be televised on ABC.
18 August, 3.15pm Commemorative Parade, Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera, Brisbane
Organised by the Australian Defence Force at Enoggera Barracks. Members of the Long Tan Veterans Association and the 6RAR Association have been invited to attend a Commemorative Parade and Reception at the Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera.

21st August 2016-Vietnam War Commemorative Concert Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (Great Hall)  3 pm

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.


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Highlights of the July 2016 bumper edition include:

• SUPERANNUATION CHANGES: WHAT RULES APPLY FOR THE 2016/2017 YEAR? Many of the big-ticket super policies are not changing, and many of the proposed changes will not apply for the 2016/2017 year. 

• TOP 10 PERFORMING SUPER FUNDS FOR 2015/2016 YEAR, AND FOR PAST 10 YEARS. The top 10 performing super funds of the year are... 

SUPER FUNDS GAIN 3% FOR THE 2015/2016 FINANCIAL YEAR. The median superannuation growth fund delivered the seventh consecutive positive annual return


• UPDATED CONTRIBUTIONS GUIDES (2016/2017 YEAR). Our contributions survival guides (for concessional contributions, non-concessional contributions, and co-contributions) are very popular with SuperGuide readers, and we have now updated them for the 2016/2017 year. 

• HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT FINANCIAL ADVISER, OR ACCOUNTANT. In a special 4-part series, take advantage of our 5-step guide to obtaining expert help, and discover what type of advice accountants are now allowed to provide, especially for SMSFs. In separate articles, learn how to make a complaint about your super fund or adviser.

• AGE PENSION: MORE AUSTRALIANS ENTITLED TO PAYMENTS FROM 1 JULY 2016. The Age Pension income and assets tests have been adjusted again which means eligible Australians can own more assets and earn more income and still be eligible for a full or part Age Pension. Also, for your convenience we have included our updated Age Pension articles on the assets test, income test and latest payment rates.

• AGED CARE RESIDENTS HIT BY SUPER AND AGE PENSION CHANGES. Although SuperGuide is not an aged care information service, it is important to flag that changes have been made recently to the rules governing the interrelationship between superannuation assets, Age Pension entitlements (if any), and the costs involved when living in an aged care facility.



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Defence Force Welfare Association – Election Update June 2016


With barely two weeks out from the looming election most in the serving and the veterans communities began to seriously wonder whether they would ever see the light of day of any substantive policies concerning them. Political parties of all persuasions seemed to have forgotten not only those who are currently serving their country but who once did so with honour. Seemingly particularly forgotten were the disabled veterans who have sought redress to their plummeting income levels which have increasingly robbed them of their ability to adequately provide for their families and live with some dignity. Basic fairness alone should dictate that priority attention should be applied immediately, if not sooner, to restoring the purchasing power of their pensions.

But disappointingly not one whisper from either the Government or the Opposition in doing so. And that is notwithstanding a series of recent fine words from both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader during speeches they gave where each in their own way unequivocally acknowledged that the nation as a whole must do better than in the past to support and care for the men and women of the Australian Defence Force who had been prepared to pay the ultimate price in service to their country

If only belatedly, some veterans policies did emerge and to its credit, the Labor Opposition started the ball rolling. Thereafter, a small avalanche of veterans policies of varying quality popped to the surface from the Greens, the Jacqui Lambie Network, the Veterans Party and the Australian Liberty Alliance. They all indicated that each substantially, in whole or in greater part, supported the policy objectives collectively articulated by DFWA and the other Alliance of Defence Service Organisation members. A thanks and congratulations is extended to each Party for that valued support.

From the policies that did emerge, it allowed an analysis of the comparative degree to which each Party intends to address the key issues of most concern to the serving and veterans’ communities. The attached Election Update provides those results.


Best Regards

Alf Jaugietis
Executive Director

Defence Force Welfare Association
Phone 02 6265 9530 | Mobile 0438 282 284
PO Box 4166 KINGSTON ACT 2604


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We offer an unwavering commitment to lobbying the 45th Parliament to ensure that they adequately look to redress the failures of successive previous governments and actively move ahead with improving conditions for Australia's men and women who serve. Our team is committed to returning Parliament to effective houses of legislature, and we are determined that if we are fortunate enough to have representation in the 45th parliament, that we hold the next Government to account on Veterans' and ADF issues at every single opportunity.

Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) Culture and Processes

We have on a number of occasions stated that we do not support a Royal Commission into DVA. As a party we think a Royal Commission would be too drawn out, offer limited terms of reference and come at an exorbitant cost: should it by slim chance pass both houses of parliament.

The Veterans Party is of the belief that an external business process redesign organisation should be commissioned early in the tenure of the next Government to overhaul and streamline processes and redesign. Additionally, we believe that a standalone Joint Parliamentary Committee should be formed to oversee the redesign and that Veterans' Affairs become a standalone ministry; at the very least for the period that DVA undergoes reform and it is proven to be effective.

The fact that DVA has to administer three separate Acts is tremendously insufficient, and we believe that any external review would cite this as a key issue and support the amalgamation of Acts.

Personally, I feel for many staff of DVA who do the very best to support veterans, however are hamstrung by understaffing and training and administration strains placed upon them. Many frontline staff of DVA appear to have been let down by their senior departmental management.

The business process redesign process would also improve the perception of the department as a brand. Becoming more progressive and effective may allow DVA to encompass the perception that 'We served Australia, now Australia serves us'.

Veterans' Disability Payments

The Veterans Party acknowledges and commits to supporting the TPI Federation's objective to parity the Above General Rate component against the tax-adjusted minimum wage as a community standard. We are scathing of the Labor party to exclude the general Veterans Disability Pension (VDP) rate in the 2009 budget. We support a “one off” increase to realign the VDP rate to that of the Service Pension and furthermore, we believe that a retrospective 'back payment' be made to those affected.

Veterans' payments are not a form of welfare. They are an earnt entitlement that has been degraded by successive Governments.

Military Superannuation

The Veteran's Party are fully aware of the ongoing and unresolved issue of indexation. Post the 2013 Abbott (now Turnbull) Government's election, the indexation of DFRDB pensions was modified to reflect the age pension for those over the age of 55. The legislation enacting these changes did not remedy the problems for those under the age of 55 and all those on MSBS pensions, or preserved (employer) benefits, which are only indexed to CPI.

Preserved (employer) Benefit is an amount indexed to CPI notionally and members can only get access to it after they reach the preservation age. Given that CPI is significantly lower than that of the long term annual returns for superannuation, the potential detriment for members with preserved benefits can be financially significant.

The Veterans Party commits to seeking that all Military Superannuation pensions are indexed the same way as the age pension, and MSBS members who have preserved benefits immediately be given the option of transferring their employer benefits to a complying superannuation fund.

Furthermore, we are committed to removing the Maximum Benefit Limit that has been imposed on MSBS members. Stupidly, this is adverse to those men and women who choose to serve longer periods in the ADF.

Military Covenant
The Veterans Party fully supports a covenant assented in legislation and has publically stated this previously in the media. It is important to ensure that the obligations of service men and women and their nation are reciprocated. We are aware that there have been numerous instances of precedence set not only overseas, but also in Australia.

Homeless Veterans

The Veterans Party congratulates state governments who have prioritised veterans for subsidised housing. We also recognise the contribution of various organisations that provide emergency accommodation in various forms to veterans. The fact that some 10% of veterans make up the population of the homeless is unacceptable and demonstrates that the Government is not fulfilling their commitment to 'serving those who served'.

We have been vocal in criticising both major parties' pork barreling in promises like sports stadiums, when the veteran and wider community is faced with such a growing social problem.

The Veterans Party commits to lobbying the next Government to further fund centres that can not only accommodate veterans, but also provide a rehabilitation and support network.

 Life Cycle Help

The Veterans Party believes that all service men and women with qualifying service should automatically be granted a DVA Gold Card on termination from the ADF.

Additionally, all other personnel should automatically receive a White Card for non-liability health care (eg, mental health issues and other determined common conditions) on termination from the ADF.

The Veterans Party opposes the current Medibank Health Solutions contract with the ADF that limits the ability of medical practitioners to refer ADF personnel to a specialist of the medical practitioner's professional choice.

Toxicity of Mefloquine and Tafenoquine medications

If represented in parliament, the Veterans Party will seek a Joint Parliamentary Inquiry into the use of this medication and that affected personnel receive appropriate health treatment and liability acceptance without delay.

Jeremy Dave
Federal Leader of the Veterans Party / Senate Candidate for Queensland
Tl: 0400 398 367
email(: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Australian Defence Veterans Party P.O. Box 3335
Caroline Springs
Victoria 3023

Opinion - Politics out of Uniform

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ROSS EASTGATE, Townsville Bulletin June 23, 2016 

Ross Eastgate

AFGHANISTAN veteran Winston Churchill shamelessly exploited his military service to pursue his political ambitions.

It was at Westminster not Canberra but after serving in India, Sudan, South Africa and a stint as an accredited observer in Cuba, Winston campaigned using lantern slides of his service to convince Oldham voters to elect him in 1900.

It wasn’t exactly PowerPoint, but Winston knew tales of his derring-do would do his political aspirations no harm.

While serving with Britain’s Territorial (reserve) Army, he took leave of parliament to command a battalion on France’s western front in 1916 after the Gallipoli disaster, for which as First Lord of the Admiralty – the term then used to describe the navy minister – he held considerable responsibility.

He held the same role when World War II was declared and then as prime minister never shirked appearing in uniform of each of three services in which he held honorary appointments while visiting troops in the field and observing combat close hand. 


Churchill’s example was mirrored by generations of Australian politicians with distinguished war service. Colonel Neville Howse who earned Australia’s first VC in South Africa and commanded medical services at Rabaul, Gallipoli and in France had a distinguished parliamentary career and was federal minister for defence, health and repatriation.

There’s a long list of parliamentarians at state and federal level who used their military reputations for political advantage.

Queenslanders General Sir William Glasgow, premier Sir Frank Nicklin who was awarded a Military Medal in France in WWI, South Australian Premiers Playford and Corcoran, WWII Changi POWs Major Reg (later Sir Reginald) Schwartz and Tom Uren, prime ministers Stanley Bruce, John Gorton and Gough Whitlam were among myriad parliamentarians of all persuasions who were happy to mention their military service.

Then considered an advantage it is now apparently taboo.

Their real service was a far cry from images of some of Australia’s contemporary politicians making fly-in quickly fly-out visits to ADF operational deployments, decked out in layers of personal protection equipment.

Nor do they apparently understand military convention. Once upon a time (WARNING: Boring old soldier statement to follow) there were three taboo subjects in military, off-duty, social conversation; sex, politics and religion.

Now apparently it is entirely appropriate to wrap your sexual politics in uniform while marching in the Sydney LGBTIQ mardi-gras with a two-star officer leading.


There’s some ambiguity about religion because it’s apparently OK for a Muslim female wearing religious attire in uniform but not a male wrapping his Christian beliefs in the same uniform.

As for politics, forget it.

Winston had neither PowerPoint nor corflutes and billboards.

Dare run for political office today for any party showing yourself in uniform using either and you run the risk of being sacked or having to resign on the advice of the dysfunctional defence PR organisation which believes such actions damage the ADF reputation.

It must be them because the senior uniformed hierarchy would not be so stupid as to attempt bullying future parliamentarians, possibly ministers.

Would they?


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This table compares the Political Parties Veteran Policies to  ADSO's Objectives





Comment LNP ALP GreensJacquie Lambie NetworkVeterans Party Others
1 DVA Culture & Processes Inquiry/Review/Revised Practices            
2 Veterans Disability Payments TPI/SR- Economic Loss & Parity            
3 Military Super DFRDB/MSBS            
4 Military Covenant              
5 Homeless Veterans Care & Accommodation            
6 Life Cycle Health Incl: Mental Health/Suicide Prevention/Automatic Health Card            
7 Mefloquine Recognition/Treatment/ Open Inquiry            


  About 70% or more of ADSO objective/s adopted in announced veteran policy or written commitment given to implement or review.
  About 50 - 70% of ADSO objective/s adopted in announced veteran policy or written commitment given to implement or review.
  Less than 50% adopted and/or NO Veteran Policy announced - AS OF TODAY’S UPDATE

Opinion - Malaria vaccine spin has echoes of Comical Ali

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Opinion - Ross Eastgate Townsville Bulletin 9th June 2016

Ross Eastgate

HEY guys, you’ve got to give it to old Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, Saddam Hussein’s former minister for information, aka Comical Ali.

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To put it in soldierly terms, the man had balls. You will recall he was the bloke who declared US soldiers were “committing suicide by the hundreds” outside Baghdad while denying there were any American forces in the city. His backdrop was several US tanks only a few hundred metres away with the sound of advancing forces drowning out his commentary.

Multilingual – he was known in the US as Baghdad Bob and Ali el Comico in Italy – he neither made the infamous Iraqi villains pack of cards nor gained much international respect.

Questioned about the accuracy of his reports he claimed he was “a professional”.

It takes balls to stand in front of an advancing enemy and declare they are not there, and Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf deserves kudos on that point.

He also spoke a load of bollocks.

There’s a difference between balls and bollocks.

The last Defence Public Relations director with balls was Brigadier Adrian D’Hage.

The decorated infantry officer disarmed cynical media with his blunt standard response to any crisis.

“We got that wrong, we’ll investigate why we got it wrong and we’ll try to ensure we don’t get it wrong again,” was his regular mantra.

He understood bad news doesn’t improve from not telling and would provide sufficient details to satisfy most intense media scrutiny without compromising formal investigations.

Balls have been conspicuous by their absence in the defence media organisation in recent years though bollocks abound.

VCDF vice-admiral Ray Griggs recently declared Lydia Kellner’s Townsville Bulletin February 19 report on ADF mefloquine misuse was “exaggerated”.

To be fair, this was probably not Grigg’s personal view but one fed to him by the defence media apparatus to “protect the ADF’s reputation”.

It was also misleading and since then this disingenuous assessment has been largely discredited as more affected serving and former ADF members present with their personal experiences.

Reputation ultimately relies on truth.

Protecting professional irregularities and misdemeanours no matter how well- intentioned fails if that protection contradicts fact.

The developing outrage over ADF anti-malarial drug trials is an instructive case.

The medical profession is notoriously self-protective.

As the facts rapidly unravel around the Australian Army Malaria Institute’s severely flawed, possibly illegal trials of dubious drugs, including one not registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Griggs and other non-medical ADF personnel need to consider carefully whether their personal reputations are worth flawed advice from a dysfunctional media apparatus which places organisational “reputation” above individuals.

More importantly, they need to question whether that same PR organisation is focused on promoting the ADF’s core priorities or actually directing its efforts to melding them with radical, social-engineering political agenda of some extreme elements of Australian society which have no relevance to the ADF’s primary role, training to fight wars and kill when necessary.

So guys, it boils down to a battle between balls and bollocks.


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National President - Mr Rod White AM RFD

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A Vietnam veteran who rose to the rank of Major after enlisting in the Australian Defence Force is the RSL’s new National President. RSL NSW President Rod White AM RFD was elected to the RSL’s most senior position at the organisation’s annual general meeting in Melbourne today.

For his service to the RSL and the broader ex-service community, Mr White has received the Australian Centenary Medal and been appointed a Life Member of the RSL. Mr White said he was excited and honoured to lead the League into its second century.

“I joined the RSL in 1971 and have been a champion of its work and Australia’s veteran community ever since,” Mr White said.

Within the RSL, he has had extensive experience including Branch President, State Councillor, Trustee of the Welfare & Benevolent Institution, Director of the ANZAC House Trust plus several other key appointments.
Mr White serves on the Board of RSL LifeCare, the Army Museum of NSW Victoria Barracks Paddington and is on the executive of Regimental committees.

“My priority, of course, will be the betterment of both the veteran community and serving members of the ADF, together with their dependents,” he said.

“I also hope to further enhance society’s knowledge and awareness of our military heritage, so Australians never forget the sacrifices that have been made to preserve our freedoms.”

Besides his involvement with veteran welfare, Mr White has a keen interest in corporate governance, Australian military and social history and is a regular lawn bowler. He succeeds Rear Admiral Ken Doolan AO, who has served as RSL National President since 2009.

“The RSL has served the nation well for 100 years and, thanks to the dedication and hard work I have seen over the past seven years, I’m certain it will continue to do so,” RADM Doolan said.

“There are challenges ahead meeting the needs of the next generation of veterans but the RSL, with continued public and corporate support, is ready and able to support our Defence members during and after their service.”

Biographical Details

Rod was born in North Sydney in 1946 and was raised and educated in Chatswood. On leaving school he followed family interests into the building industry completing his apprenticeship as a carpenter and joiner. Concurrently, he enlisted in 1964 in the Army Reserve with the 17th Infantry Battalion, later volunteering for the Regular Army as a National Serviceman and serving for nearly 3 years. During that time he was posted to the 9th Battalion and then with the 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment in the Vietnam War, as an Infantry Corporal and a Mortar Fire Controller.

After Vietnam, Rod returned to the building industry, re-enlisted in the Army Reserve and was subsequently appointed a commissioned officer. His postings included, Second in Command – Sydney University Regiment and of the 17th Infantry Battalion.

Rod was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (Military Division) for his service to the Australian Army Reserve and awarded the Reserve Forces Decoration. Rod retired in 1993 with the rank of Major.

Within the RSL NSW Branch, Rod has had extensive experience including as a Sub-Branch President, State Councillor, Trustee of the Welfare & Benevolent Institution, Director of the ANZAC House Trust, plus several other key appointments. He was State Honorary Treasurer from 2004 to 2014 and has been a member of the board of RSL LifeCare since 2002, and Chairman since 2004. In 2015 he was appointed State President of the RSL New South Wales Branch.

Besides his involvement with veteran welfare, Rod maintains a keen interest in corporate governance, Australian military and social history and is a regular lawn bowler. At home, Rod enjoys the company of his wife, Judith White OAM, a retired nurse and they try to keep up with the adventurous exploits of their son, David.



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The Alliance of Defence Service Organisations (ADSO) (1) comprising some 90,000 members has expressed disappointment that our Political leaders missed the opportunity to further the healing of the wounds of rejection felt by many Vietnam Veterans by their non attendance at the ceremony marking the return to Australia of their comrades killed in action who had been interred at Terendak Military Cemetery and Kranji War Cemetery at the Richmond Air Base.

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Their decision not to suspend their election campaigns even for a few hours as a mark of respect is extremely regrettable.

Our service men and women pay a high price for Australia’s safety and deserve the full respect of our nation’s elected representatives.


ADSO Campaign Co Directors: Ted Chitham (0418) 733 887 and Alf Jaugietis (0438) 282 284
ADSO National Spokesman: David Jamison (0416) 107 557

(1) The Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA), Naval Association of Australia (NAA), RAAF Association (RAAFA), Royal Australian Regiment Corporation (RARC), Australian Special Air Service Association (ASASA), Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia (VVAA), the Australian Federation of Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Ex-Service Men and Women, the Fleet Air Arm Association of Australia, Partners of Veterans Association of Australia, Royal Australian Armoured Corps Corporation (RAACC), the National Malaya & Borneo Veterans Association Australia (NMBVAA), Defence Reserves Association (DRA), Australian Gulf War Veterans Association, Australian Commando Association, the War Widows Guild of Australia, Military Police Association Australia (MPAA), and the Australian Army Apprentices 


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dfwa logoThe Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA), together with its partners in the Alliance of Defence Service Organisations (ADSO), welcomed the Government’s announcement on the 3rd May 2016 that the 2016-17 Budget would provide $37.9 million to extend non-liability health care to all current and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). That meant that anyone who had served in the ADF’s permanent forces would now be eligible to have treated such conditions as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and alcohol/substance abuse.

The National President of DFWA, David Jamison, proffered that, “as welcome as that initiative had been, it was a bitter disappointment to the whole veterans
community that one of the well documented and readily treatable potential causes of anxiety and depression continues to be ignored”.
“That being the continued refusal by the Department of Veteran Affairs to provide other than only basic level hearing devices, free to clients, when their irrefutable
diagnosed clinical needs demanded devices of a far higher performance and quality to mitigate hearing loss”, he said. David further said that, “this denial created the potential for unmistakable social withdrawal symptoms and isolation that develops into anxiety, depression and early onset of dementia (1). These mental health issues clearly increased hospitalisation costs (2) in the process. Early intervention strategies that include treating hearing loss according to the clinical needs of veterans by providing them with proper hearing aids would overcame many problems”.

Executive Director: Alf Jaugietis (0438) 282 284
National President: David Jamison (0416) 107 557 

DFWA – Voice of the Defence Community

(1) “In children, hearing loss impairs speech and language development, which in turn undermines academic achievement. In adults, it has a
negative impact on employment opportunities and social functioning. It can cause social isolation that develops into depression and early onset
dementia.” - Garvan Institute of Medical Research

(2) “Older adults with hearing loss are more likely than peers with normal hearing to require hospitalization and suffer from periods of inactivity
and depression. Hearing loss may have a profoundly detrimental effect on older people’s physical and mental well-being, and even health care
resources.” - John Hopkins School of Medicine

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