Warrior Poet - All for One and One for All - Times are a Changing

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Brigadier George "Warrie" Mansford AO (Retd) is a warrior poet much loved and respected by the military family.


His poems comment on topical matters. Here is the latest following the commentary.

All for One and One for All

It would seem government authorities obsessed with political correctness are creating double standards within our military to appease minority groups.
It is an unfortunate initiative which many old diggers would find provocative and offensive. Simply put, applying special treatment and separate rules for minority groups create hostility and divisiveness; not unity.

It's granted that we live in a rapidly changing world and our society must demonstrate flexibility to keep up with the times. Nevertheless, it does not include prostituting or compromising established values of our way of life which includes standards and discipline within our Armed Forces: they are not negotiable.

Diversity is not new and has always been a characteristic within our Military. No matter what pages of our history since Federation, the composition of our Armed Forces has always been from all walks of life in the towns, cities and suburbs to the outback. Just as importantly, contrary to political correctness, no matter the religion or lack of it, race or colour, all must continue to be treated the same if unity is to be achieved.

There should definitely be no favourites. All have and should continue to be subject to the same considerations, the same discipline and the same sense of purpose. They are well established procedures which develop individual and collective pride and respect for each other within the military family.

Hard and demanding training develops personal bonds and teamwork which ultimately implies caring and sharing for each other and facing the same challenges. Such training creates a powerful weapon for operational service, no matter be our military black, brown, brindle or white. It's called mateship and never them and us.

When time permits, there are church parades for religious worship, however when operational or training demands, duty always comes first. After all, we all took the same oath to serve our country and its way of life and unless there is a further surge of politically correct madness, all will still wear the same uniform of our nation

Our military despise poor leadership which is often revealed by favours and special treatment for a selected few. If it persists, there will be resentment within the ranks and the very fabric of that powerful weapon will begin to tear.

Our warriors from all three Services do understand and accept the demands placed on them. They are willing to put their lives at risk. They are at their best when they're given as the original ANZAC's would have said "a fair go"

Put simply "All for one and one for all'----GM

Times are a Changing

It didn't matter if divorced, married or single
White, brown, black or brindle
Proddy, Mick, Hindu or whatever faith did call
What counted was the soldiers' rule, "all for one and one for all''
The same was true for discipline and never any variation
After all, all had sworn the oath to serve as one for our nation

Their badge and motto a true compass for military life
Proudly worn with the national cloth to serve in peace and strife
There were times when prayers and God would have to wait
An hour, a day or even more because of duty and precious mates
It's was all part of a special religion; sharing and caring for each other
Thus even raw recruits were soon to become sisters and brothers

An aging warrior with a holy wooden stick was their priest
"Left, right, left right" and "About turn" were daily prayers and feasts
Their church a parade ground and the unforgiving sun an altar
On such sacred ground, a heinous sin to yawn, blink, fall or falter
Screaming striped disciples prowled the Assembly ready to crucify
Sinners baptized with terrible names and not allowed to ask why

Today we have the Space Age with *PC increasing by the day
Prostituting equality to appease minority groups in special ways
Promoting that our military strength is based on diversity
Ignoring that our proven past was due to commonality and unity
Please, no favorites, same rules and uniform for all in military life
Let it always be "All for one and one for all" to succeed in any strife

***PC----Political Correctness
George Mansford © December 2015

The end of veterans' affairs: will Anzac Centenary Minister Stuart Robert be too busy to bother?

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Extracts from The Canberra Times article December 1, 2015 by David Stephens

Read the full article here

"The government seems to have accepted it no longer needs a 'minister for the RSL'.

In the wake of the recent ministerial reshuffle: while Michael Ronaldson, the previous minister for veterans' affairs and minister assisting the prime minister for the centenary of Anzac, also had the job of special minister of state – mostly a doddle – the new holder of the veterans' affairs and Anzac jobs, Stuart Robert, is also Minister for Human Services, which makes his workload altogether different.


The Department of Human Services includes the massive bureaucracies of Centrelink and Medicare, plus smaller programs in aged care, child support, hearing services and other areas. It currently disburses about $165 billion a year in payments. It claims it touches the lives of almost every Australian, so it has about 25 million clients. It has about 34,000 staff in 400 service centres across the country, under the leadership of a secretary and six deputy secretaries. 
By contrast with the human services behemoth, veterans' affairs is a boutique operation. The Department of Veterans' Affairs has about 2000 staff delivering $12 billion in benefits a year to about 320,000 clients. While its staff are less likely to be an industrial relations problem than those in human services they are more likely to need to deal with well-organised and vocal pressure groups complaining about service than are their counterparts in human services.

Beginning of the end of the veterans' affairs portfolio?

Giving Robert the human services job with its potentially heavy workload, may indicate the attitude of new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to the relative importance of the veterans' affairs job, including the commemorative aspects that have justified that minister having the extra "centenary of Anzac" handle since 2011. Turnbull may think that, after the peak during 2015, the intensity of commemorative activity (and the political pay-off) will necessarily diminish, requiring minimal ministerial attention. This Prime Minister also seems less starry-eyed about military things than was his predecessor.

Giving the veterans' affairs ministry another, potentially much larger, role may even foreshadow that veterans' affairs has a limited future as a stand-alone ministry. It is more than five decades since the then minister for repatriation, Reg Swartz, agreed that calling him "the minister for the RSL" was "a reasonable description". But the RSL is a far less powerful and less representative organisation today than it was in 1963; the staying power and spruiking skills of veterans' affairs portfolio officers, rather than the RSL link, is surely the main factor keeping veterans' affairs going today as a separate entity. (Within the portfolio, the chairman of the Council of the Australian War Memorial, Ken Doolan, a 76-year-old retired rear admiral, is also the RSL national president. This is more noteworthy as a potential conflict of interest than as a lever of RSL power.)
There are, on the other hand – and have been for many years – bureaucrats in the departments of health, human services and social services who would willingly take over pieces of the Department of Veterans' Affairs that do similar work.


It is possible that Robert is superhuman. He is an ex-serviceman (mostly in military intelligence and security) and he is nearly two decades younger than his predecessor. While human services always carries the potential to require close ministerial involvement, particularly if its massive workforce becomes stroppy or if rorts are alleged, in some respects it is just a massive computer spitting out cheques. Run sensitively, with occasional crises successfully overcome, it has far more potential than veterans' affairs to build ministerial reputations, as Robert's predecessor, Marise Payne, found. Turnbull, announcing Payne's promotion to defence, noted "she has spent two years in the human services portfolio and has done an outstanding job in modernising government service delivery".

In the non-commemoration areas of the Department of Veterans' Affairs, too, there are potential hot spots and insistent pressure groups that will require ministerial attention but which will bring kudos if dealt with competently. Damping down these eruptions while wrangling human services may mean that ministerial trips in the Anzac centenary role to the green fields of France or the stony hills of Palestine – for the events that Ronaldson was wont to rattle off in his speeches – may become less common and ministerial speeches to RSL conferences more perfunctory. Such changes would help reduce Anzac to a more proportionate place in our national psyche."

David Stephens is secretary and website editor of the Honest History coalition, which supports the balanced presentation and use of Australian history, particularly during the Anzac centenary. This article does not necessarily represent the views of all of Honest History's supporters.


Defence chief Mark Binskin rejects housing sale

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Australia's defence chief has ­declared his opposition to any push to privatise the Defence Housing Authority, which provides ­accommodation for thousands of ADF members.

In May last year, the Abbott government's audit commission recommended the authority be privatised, along with shipbuilder ASC. The government has since denied it plans to sell DHA but rumours that the authority will ultimately be sold have persisted.

The rumours gained momentum this week with the replacement of DHA's managing director, Peter Howman, a week after he won an industry award, with a Finance Department deputy secretary, Jan Mason.

In response to inquiries, ADF chief Mark Binskin issued a statement saying the ADF supported the continuation of DHA as a government-owned entity.

"DHA provides a single point of contact that understands the unique requirements and demands military service can present," Air Chief Marshal Binskin said. "DHA provides an essential service to ADF personnel and their families, which in turn supports Australia's military capability. Defence and DHA have built a positive and productive relationship over many years to meet the specific housing needs of ADF personnel that helps to mitigate some of the challenges associated with service life."

The opposition called on the government to "come clean" on its plans. "Reports today suggest the on-again off-again sale of DHA is back on — placing ­defence families under increased uncertainty," Labor's defence team, Stephen Conroy and Gai Brodtmann, said in a statement.

There were fears in the ­defence community that the changes in DHA showed the government was preparing to privatise the agency, they said.

The Alliance of Defence Service Organisations also warned against the sale. "Our fear is that the Department of Finance aims to siphon off capital and operating funds to give the government a one-off financial windfall and in the process emasculate DHA," the alliance said.

NOVEMBER 4, 2015 
Brendan Nicholson



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The Alliance of Defence Service Organisations (ADSO) expresses its deep concern over the sudden appointment of a Department of Finance Deputy Secretary as Managing Director of Defence Housing Australia (DHA).

Speaking on behalf of the ADSO Alliance as its national spokesman, David Jamison said "Our fear is that the Department of Finance aims to siphon off capital and operating funds to give the Government a one-off financial windfall and in the process emasculate DHA, to the detriment of Australian Defence Force families".

David went on to say that it has been known for a long time that Finance has been targeting ADF members and veterans, opposing efforts at every turn to improve the service conditions of ADF members. Even recently Finance fiercely opposed claims for fair indexation of ADF superannuation and adoption of a fair benchmark for the Veterans' Disability Pension.

David stated, "The only message that can deduced from a Finance bureaucrat being appointed as Managing Director of DHA is that the Government intends to allow the 
Department of Finance to implement the recent Lazard review of DHA and its recommendations. That review called for its privatisation. This clearly flies in the face of good public policy when the present arrangements provide good housing for ADF families at little or no ongoing cost to the budget. It even pays an annual dividend to Finance thus offsetting the Defence Budget: A triumph of ideology over common sense!"

In expressing the ADSO Alliance's disquiet David went on to state "Not only would such a move be detrimental to Australia's defence capability, it would be detrimental to the ADF, whose personnel rely on having affordable and quality housing especially in the more remote areas away from their family and social support networks. That is something Defence understands but Finance refuses to accept".

"The leadership of the ADSO Alliance thanks the outgoing Managing Director Peter Howman for his service and success in guiding the DHA to where it is today, and wish him the best in the future" said Colonel Jamison who went on to say the Alliance as a whole will be keeping a close watch on future developments with DHA.

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

ADSO comprises:
The Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA),
Naval Association of Australia (NAA), RAAF Association (RAAFA),
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 Corp Corporation 
National Malaya & Borneo Veterans Association Australia (NMBVAA), and
The Defence Reserves Association (DRS) 

Digger James a Mark on History

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Australian War Memorial director Dr Brendan Nelson has remembered former chairman of the Memorial, Major-General William Brian 'Digger' James AC AO(Mil) MBE MC, as "one of the most decent and honourable Australians of the 20th century".


One of Australia's best-known and respected veterans, Major-General James died on Friday night aged 85.

On behalf of the chairman, council and all members of the Australian War Memorial staff, Dr Brendan Nelson said Major-General James was a tireless advocate for veterans' issues and a patron to countless other medical and military causes.

"Major-General 'Digger' James was highly regarded and respected throughout the nation as an outstanding leader, advocate for veterans, and one of the most decent and honourable Australians of the 20th century," Dr Nelson said.

Major-General James was born in May 1930 in Shepparton, Victoria, where his father established the first fruit orchard and later become a founding member of the Shepparton Preserving Co. (SPC).

A football-lover, he graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in 1951, and served as a junior officer with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR), in Korea.

He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions while leading a patrol on the night of November 7, 1952. One soldier was killed after stepping on a mine and four others, including Lieutenant James, were wounded. Although severely wounded, with the loss of his left foot and damage to his right leg, he remained conscious and in command of the patrol, organising the evacuation of casualties back to the battalion, insisting that he was moved last, more than three hours later.

The citation for his award of a Military Cross read:

"The example set by Lieutenant James and his leadership, devotion to duty, self-sacrifice and extreme fortitude when in great personal distress was an inspiration to members of his battalion."

He was evacuated home to Australia and spent 14 months in rehabilitation in hospital.

He transferred to the Royal Australian Armoured Corps (RAAC) and served as adjutant at the Armoured School and the 12th/16th Hunter River Lancers at Muswellbrook before deciding he had no future as a regular amy officer and resigning in 1957.

He took up medical studies at Sydney University and after graduating in December 1963 and serving his hospital residency, he rejoined the Army as a medical officer in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps (RAAMC).

He commanded the 8th Field Ambulance in South Vietnam and was Senior Medical Officer of the 1st Australian Task Force at Nui Dat for 12 months from January 1968 to January 1969, and was inspirational for the encouragement and personal example he provided to soldiers wounded by anti-personnel mines.

For his outstanding service in Vietnam he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1969.

In 1971 he served with a British St John Ambulance medical relief team at the conclusion of the Biafran Civil War in Nigeria, for which he was awarded the Order of St John.

He was subsequently appointed Director Army Medical Services in Queensland between 1971 and 1975, Director of Army Medical Services, Army Headquarters from 1975 to 1981.

He was also named honorary physician to the Queen.

Promoted to Major General, he served as Director General of Army Health Services between 1981 and 1985, in which year he retired.

As well as serving as the National President of the Returned Services League from 1993 to 1997, Major-General James served on the Council of the Australian War Memorial from 1993; he was appointed chairman in 1999 and served in that capacity until 2000.

Australian Light Horse Association president Phil Chalker praised his involvement in a number of projects, including the Waler Memorial in Tamworth and the Park of the Australian Soldier in Beersheba, Israel.

"He will be greatly missed by not only those who knew him but those his life impacted on," he said in a statement.

Major-General James is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Barbara, four children and nine grandchildren.


Bravery Trust fills the gap for battling veterans and their families

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Ian McPhedranNews Corp Australia Network
October 18, 2015

AFGHANISTAN war hero Daniel Keighran VC will spearhead a new campaign to provide vital financial, medical and educational support to defence members, veterans and their families.

As the celebrity ambassador for the rebranded Bravery Trust (formerly the Australian Defence Force Assistance Trust) to be launched on Monday, he will support a national campaign to raise the profile of the three-year-old organisation.

Chief executive officer of the Trust Irishman Sean Farrell said its aims were to care for and support veterans, the fallen and their families whose lives have been adversely affected by military service.

Unlike other charities established to support members of the elite SAS and Commandos, the Bravery Trust is open to anyone who has served in the military and their families.

It was established in April 2012 by Vietnam Veteran, former Member of Parliament and double amputee Graham Edwards with a $14 million loan from the Commonwealth.

The Trust is a registered charity and it expects the need for money to support the defence community grow to $100 million during the next 20 years to provide an appropriate level of assistance that would honour the sacrifice of military personnel.

Further information is available here 


Jim Bourke - Remembering a one-off, larger than life character as I recall him.

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images 1J

JIM BOURKE marched off at 1400 precisely last Friday 1 October 2015
To give him his full title, Lt Col (Retired) Dr James Raymond Bourke, Member of the Order of Australia, Medal of Gallantry, Doctor of Philosophy (Victoria University) departed this life after a long illness, lung cancer actually, the legacy of an early life not always wisely spent.

Born in Ayr, Far North Queenslander Bourke, aka Bindi was a 1964 Portsea graduate.

His mates agree the mould was broken when he arrived. There was none other like him and there will unlikely be again. He had what was described in the army of that time as a "bit of a suntan", not that it mattered.

He served two Vietnam tours, with 1RAR in 1965 and 1968-1969 with the training team and after the logistics support group at Vung Tau.
During his first tour he had to leave two of his diggers on the battlefield, even knowing they were dead it was a burden he was determined not to carry to his grave.

Later in that tour he suffered a grievous head wound, the bullet passing through his mouth and exiting near his ear. He spent months in hospital as his face was reconstructed, needing dentures to replace his lost teeth. That was an easy loss to bear compared with his lost soldiers.

There are many no doubt apocryphal stories about Jim Bourke, but none unbelievable to those who knew him.
He allegedly once opened a steel beer can by firing a .45 pistol round through its top, which is possibly why his AATTV tour was cut short.

At his army farewell at Sydney's Victoria Barracks in 1980, the dentists who had conducted his discharge examination had made, at the suggestion of one of his fellow officers who may now possibly be governor-general, new dentures of bright metal, fashioned after the teeth of a german shepherd, including prominent canine incisors.
Jim Bourke demonstrated their efficacy by tearing the flesh of a roast chicken from its bones. Those teeth were not unsuited to the personality of this larger than life character. They also typified a tenacity to pursue and devour things which bothered him. The loss of Lcpl "Tiny" Parker and Pte Peter Gillson was one.

After Vietnam there were six Australian soldiers whose remains had not been recovered. Jim Bourke's persistence to discover and repatriate them drove his latter decades.
He pleaded, bullied cajoled officials and bureaucrats here and in Vietnam until with reluctant Australian government support he located all their remains, bringing them home as he promised he would do to give their families closure.

It also gave closure to Jim Bourke's anguish at having left two of his diggers behind.

He wrote a thesis on that wider anguish which resulted last week in the presentation of his PhD, sadly on his deathbed.

He had unfinished work he believed, to do the same for Australians missing in action in Korea.

Rest easy mate, for others will pursue that cause in your memory.

Ross Eatgate

Stuart Robert's Dual Ministerial Responsibility Cause for Concern

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ADSO and other Veterans' Organizations and individuals have voiced their concern at the dual appointment of The Hon Stuart Robert as the Minister for Veterans Affairs and the Minister for Human Services in the new Turnbull Government Ministry. 

The President of the VVFA , James Wain, has written this letter to the Prime Minister dated 22 September 2015 which states the concern.

images VVFA

Dear Prime Minister,

The Hon Stuart Robert has been made the Minister for Veterans Affairs and the Minister for Human Services. We note that his military background will be an asset in helping him to get across Veterans issues.

However being responsible for two portfolios concerns us. Sections of the government and some other organisations have for years advocated the disbanding of the Department of Veterans Affairs with its responsibilities taken over by the Department of Human Services (or its predecessors).

We note too, that the Hon Dr Peter Hendy has been promoted to Assistant Minister for Productivity. When Chief Executive, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Hendy promoted a paper meant to influence government policy titled Commonwealth Spending (and Taxes) Can Be Cut --- And Should Be. The paper advocated that the Department of Veterans Affairs be disbanded with disabled war veterans and war widows administered by various departments such as Welfare and Health.

We would appreciate an assurance that an amalgamation of the two departments is not contemplated.

Yours faithfully,
James Wain

Jim Bourke - Life Mission Accomplished

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 Article by Hedley Thomas The Australian September 25, 2015 

Jim Bourke - Life Mission Accomplished

images 1

Jim Bourke, a dying soldier, can be proud of his battle to honour comrades. He has devoted his life to finding the remains of Australian soldiers in unmarked graves from the Korean and Vietnam wars.

His heroism as a platoon commander with 1 RAR in the Vietnam War in 1966 should have killed him. He was shot while trying to save a wounded soldier, and won a medal for gallantry. But afterwards he lost himself in gin and what he reckons was survivor guilt. For a long while back in Australia, he says, he "wasn't travelling too well".

Four decades later, he led his most important mission — to find and bring home the remains of six missing Australians: Richard Parker, Peter Gillson, David Fisher, Michael Herbert, Robert Carver and John Gillespie, left behind in Vietnam where they fell.


Bourke searching, second left, for graves in Vietnam. Source: News Limited

It was Bourke who, in the early 2000s, used his initiative and resources, did thousands of hours of research, lobbied politicians and bureaucrats, and, when that failed, led a privately funded team to try to locate the missing six. Peterson and Aylett, Vietnam veterans, were vital to this mission Operation Aussie Home. Darrouzet, who could not fathom why the government was not doing all in its power to bring back the men, stumped up cash said "You sometimes wonder, 'Would I be good enough to go over the top?', then you hear about six blokes who were good enough and who died in the fight in Vietnam, and their government said 'too hard', and left them there for almost 40 years."

Bourke's refusal to go away — the single-minded determination that distinguished him in Vietnam — eventually would bring success, and embarrass the government and Defence chiefs into decisive and long-overdue action. As Bourke saw it, Australia had sent those six young men to war on a one-way ticket. In failing to bring home what was left of their bodies, the ultimate sacrifice they had made was not being honoured. He regarded it as a national disgrace.

When Bourke and his team in 2007 found the remains of two of the missing six, Defence could no longer shirk its duty. Bourke and his like-minded mates had ach¬ieved results the experts predicted were impossible. They were making officialdom look bad. A new collaborative effort with Defence resulted in remains of the other four being found, carefully repatriated to Australia, and laid to rest with public and family ceremonies, political pomp and overwhelming community approval.

In his newly completed PhD thesis, Living With Unresolved Grief and Uncompleted Tasks: Achieving Closure Around Ambiguous Loss and Traumatic Events During Wartime, Bourke says, "Across the nation, citizens have an obligation to these fellow Australians, to understand their grief and to lend support where they can — and the nation has a moral obligation to the missing themselves, to recover and properly commemorate them."

His thesis is a measured and powerful body of work that also addresses what he sees as ongoing ambiguity in policy about the duty to bring bodies home from future conflicts. Bourke's tone is not angry but he does not pull punches over bureaucratic and political inertia. He says the recovery of the remains "represented the ultimate act of reparation".

Bourke is unflinching in examining the reasons it took four decades to recover the six men. It was increasingly clear to him "that the achilles heel within the bureaucracy was the government, specifically the ministers".: "The gravitas of Australia's leaders, so obvious at times when they wish to praise the sacrifices of service personnel, appeared to evaporate when confronted with deciding whether to do anything about these six MIAs from Vietnam".

"It appears Australia was able to sweep the remains of the missing under some metaphorical carpet. Blight on Australia's national identity was evident — Australia lost her spirit. The apparent lack of interest in the recovery of the missing during the second half of the 20th century reveals a cultural undercurrent of amnesia around Australia's missing war dead.

"This undercurrent survived during the last two decades of the 20th century despite the patriotic resurgence of interest in commemorating Australians' wartime sacrifices.
"Searching for the missing, beyond initial battlefield clearance, was a priority of neither the Australian government nor the Australian Defence Force, and this underlying philosophy was formalised in ADF policy in 1996. The situation around the (42) Korean War MIAs and the six MIAs from Vietnam clearly reflects this dilemma."

But by 2007, following the breakthrough recovery by his group of Parker and Gillson, the debate changed fundamentally. There were accolades and congratulatory messages from then Prime Minister John Howard, Defence chiefs and other VIPs. The RSL made Bourke its 2008 Anzac of the Year. The loved ones of the first two were generous in their praise, and by 2009 the remaining four had been retrieved and repatriated.

Bourke has one regret — he will die before the remains of any of the 42 Australians missing from the war in Korea are recovered.
"They say: 'It's too hard, the North Koreans won't talk to us about it','' he says.
"Well, they should get off their arses and use their diplomacy to engage the bastards."


POST SCRIPT: Jim Bourke marched out at 1400 hrs today (25/09/15). He is now with God


The DVA 2014 Client Service Survey - Results

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In 2014, DVA undertook a Client Service Survey. Its key objectives were to:

 provide an indicator of satisfaction amongst the veteran community with DVA client services;

 better understand the communication experiences and expectations of client groups to assist in identifying opportunities for service delivery improvements; and

 form a baseline from which to measure the success of future changes to DVA's service delivery environment.

The survey results are here

Younger DVA client veterans have questioned the survey's results because it is distorted to an older veteran client age group, over aged 45 (87.5%), who in the main are covered by the VEA. The younger contemporary veterans (12.5%) under age 45 are covered by the SRCA and/or MRCA.

It would be reasonable for DVA to conduct separate surveys for those clients covered by the two major client divisions: contemporary SRCA/MRCA and older VEA. The results may reveal matters that the DVA's Younger Veterans - Contemporary Needs Forum (YVF) would regard as one of its major objectives: to assist in identifying priority emerging issues for veterans across the age and conflict spectrum particularly in the areas of mental and social health.



ADSO - Who? Why? What? Results?

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ADSO 23Jun15

Who We Are

The Alliance (ADSO) was established in 2010 to provide a structure for cooperation between service and ex-service organisations, to address issues of mutual interest and benefit to the defence, ex-service and veteran communities.

Member organisations of the Alliance acknowledge that although they represent different constituencies, many of the matters dealt with by each have elements common to other ESOs and that there is benefit to each by collaborating on these. ADSO thus provides a mechanism to more effectively represent issues to governments and the general public.

Notwithstanding the desire of ADSO organisations to cooperate closely together, membership is not intended to impinge on the independence of member organisations and their right to pursue their own objectives as they see fit.

Why We Exist

The Alliance exists to provide a structure for cooperation, to address issues of mutual interest and benefit to the defence, ex-service and veteran communities. This unity of purpose and action provides for greater influence in our representations to the Parliament, Government and Federal Officials.

Our major functions are to:

1. Improve communication, cooperation and collaboration between ADSO member organisations;

2. Gain mutual advantage from the differing of expertise of each organisation;

3. Ensure for each issue being pursued, the appropriate organisation is identified as the "lead organisation" for coordination of the actions undertaken by the Alliance and its partners; and

4. Help spread the workload and ensure the resources of the Alliance member organisations are used to produce the most effective result.

What We Do

ADSO makes representation at the National and State levels to promote improved conditions of service and to protect those entitlements already achieved. It also promotes the well being of defence families.

ADSO is non partisan: it does not support any political party. Because of this non partisan approach and also the quality of representations made, we have gained the respect of parliamentarians across the board as well from ADF Senior Commanders and Federal Officials.

Most members of ADSO are represented at the Ex-Service Round Table (a DVA national consultative body). DFWA and RARC are also represented at the RSL National Defence Personnel & Families Committee.

DFWA is a recognised "intervener" before the Defence Forces Remuneration Tribunal (DFRT) and is the employee representative on the Government Skills Public Safety Industry Advisory Committee.

In support of its objectives The Alliance has created a powerful and effective national Action Group organisation (Fair Go Campaign) that openly engages all Parliamentarians and Political Parties from the top down in Canberra and bottom up in most federal electorates.

It is at the grass root level in the electorates where we engage with the Local Federal member and the community to promote our issues. This strategy is proving successful.

What We Have Achieved

 Military Superannuation Pension indexation formula increased for DFRB/DFRDB superannuation pension recipients over 55 to maintain purchasing power.

 Protection of personal information held by the National Archives: The Administrative Appeals Tribunal upheld a National Archive decision to restrict the release of information from the personal records of former ADF members. This means that previously releasable personal data that should remain private will be exempt from automatic release to members of the general public. This decision follows strong representation after the Defence Force Welfare Association was alerted to the release of private information on one of its members that caused personal hurt and anguish to himself and his close family members.

 The Government has reversed its insistence that to gain a 1.5% pay increase, ADF members had to give up a number of service conditions. This was followed by an offer of an additional 0.5% increase per year giving ADF members an annual increase of 2% for the remaining period of the current Workplace Remuneration Arrangement.

 Restoration of tax exclusion for wounded soldiers.

 Restoration of remote location leave travel entitlements for ADF members removed as a cost saving.

 Reversal of the decision to reduce the regular indexation of Veterans Disability, Service and War Widows Pensions.

 Retention of the Defence Housing Authority as an entity solely focussed on providing housing for ADF personnel rather than being sold off as commercial concern with a profit motive.

 Acceptance by the Government of our recommendations to improve and protect service benefits in the ADF Super Legislation to be introduced in July 2016.

What We Are Still Working On

? DFRDB Superannuation indexation; removal of the exclusion of under 55 years from fair indexation.

? MSBS superannuation;
  o Removal of MBLs.
  o Full portability (employer & employee component) if member elects to move to ADF Super.
  o Fair indexation for superannuation pensions and preserved (employer component) funds.

? Improved mental health support for ADF members and former members.

? More responsive garrison and specialist medical services.

? Benchmarking the SRDP element of the Veterans Disability Pension to the basic wage.

? Reinforcing the unique nature of military service with a Military Covenant/Accord.

? Reducing Veterans' Homelessness.

? More effective support for ADF members transitioning to civilian life.

23 September 2015

The Turnbull Government's Defence Ministry

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THE DEFENCE MINISTRY - 21 September 2015


Senator the Hon Marise Payne

Marissa Payne



Hon Stuart Robert MP


Also: Minister for Human Services
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Centenary of ANZAC


Hon Mal Brough MP


Also Special Minister of State


Hon Darren Chester MP



Welcome to the new Ministry. We look forward to working constructively with you. Both Stuart Robert and Mal Brough are past serving military (Army) men and have form in their relationship with the Defence Family.


ADSO 23Jun15


PTSD veterans often overmedicated

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MEDICATION is an ineffective treatment for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the founder of US non-profit organisation Veterans 360.

RICK Collins says drug companies are making a small fortune off veterans, who are often overmedicated.

He's speaking on the Theatre of War at the PTSD2015 forum in Brisbane which runs from Friday to Saturday.

"Many doctors treating veterans with the psychological condition reach for the prescription pad in the first instance rather than alternative therapies," he says.
"The greatest success in managing PTS has come from a holistic approach including engagement, education, employment and healing rather than pharmacological support."

The forum has been organised by former Test cricketer and Vietnam veteran Tony Dell in partnership with RSL Queensland.
Earlier this year it launched the most comprehensive Australian clinical study into the mental health challenges faced by contemporary veterans attempting to return to civilian life.

The results of another RSL-commissioned study into the mental health of Vietnam veterans will be released at the forum, which is expected to be attended by up to 450 Australian and international experts.

Lambie distracts from real question at hand

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Generations of Australian servicemen believed the sedative bromide was added to their food and beverages to suppress sexual urges.

Long days, excessive exertion, extreme exhaustion in all male company alone were enough, without any chemical intervention, to suppress any idea of nocturnal extra-curricular activity, particularly during combat, but the myth persisted.

The contrary evidence was, even if administered bromide had little effect on Australian troops on leave in Cairo during World War I and other exotic adventures.

As the Senate this week considered changes to the Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (2015 Budget Measures) Bill 2015, disruptive Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie predictably attempted to distract the debate from its actual purpose.

She has again demanded a "Royal Commission" into alleged ADF abuse, particularly sexual, insisting that former defence force chiefs Governor General Peter Cosgrove and NSW governor David Hurley be hauled before her proposed inquisition.

The debate was actually about simplifying the appeal processes for compensation under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 from three to two, removing the option of a funded legal appeal to the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission.

The changes mean all veterans will have access to the same appeal process.

Veterans seeking compensation have traditionally had two options to seek redress from perceived unfavourable decisions, the Veterans Review Board then the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

While neither is perfect, both were intended to protect already vulnerable appellants from the adversarial nature of Australian legal process and its punitive costs.

They comprise members familiar with military customs and service plus a lawyer to provide advice and oversight.

Both are supposed to operate under the principle that the benefit of doubt should lie with the appellant, though unsuccessful claimants don't always interpret decisions that way.

Veterans appearing before the VRB or AAT have access to experienced, trained advocates funded by ex-service organisations, who should provide those services at no cost.

It is not unknown for unscrupulous "advocates" to demand compensation for their efforts, usually as a percentage of back-paid benefits.

Such individuals are a pox on the system and deserve to be exposed.

There is also no need to involve fee-charging lawyers, as Lambie is supporting.

Limited legal aid is already available for those appealing to both the VRB and AAT.

The losers in the proposed amendments, which most veterans' organisations have supported, would not be appellants but specialist lawyers who fear the loss of a lucrative income stream.

Lambie quotes in a letter to Veterans' Minister Michael Ronaldson opposition to the amendments from KCI Lawyers and notorious compensation litigants Slater and Gordon.

Is she really serious?

Providing funding to lawyers to represent appellants guarantees only the lawyers will be compensated, not necessarily a satisfactory outcome for veterans disputing decisions.

As always self-promoting Lambie misses the point and seeks to distract with a dose of sexual abuse allegations.

As generations of old Diggers now discover bromide additives may actually be taking effect, perhaps the senator should also consider a cup of tea, a bromide and a good lie down.

Leaders of Ex-Service Organisations Appalled by Delay in Veterans’ Reform Bill

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The leaders of the Ex-Service Organisations listed below (1) are concerned that the passage of The Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 has been delayed in the Senate.

The Bill introduces much needed reforms that have not only been discussed by that leadership group but has their full support, including the support of their families. The group is a National Defence Ex-Service Round Table consultative one that represents some 150,000 to 200,000 serving and former members of the ADF. The Bill even passed unopposed in the House of Representatives on 20 August 2015.

The catalyst for referral to the Senate Committee appears to have been a published opinion piece titled 'Bill Strips Veterans of Appeal Right' that emanated from a law firm. In essence, that opinion literally flies in the face of what had all along been the biggest complaint within the Ex Service community, that being that the MRCA review system was overly restrictive, cumbersome in nature and time consuming in practice.

There has been criticism of the Bill on the grounds of an apparent removal of a veterans' right to request internal reconsideration of an adverse decision by the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission.

The National Ex-Service Organisations Leaders believe that:

• the single path set out in the Bill, and

• the firm and enduring assurance given by the Minister that every adverse decision by the Commission that is the subject of an application to the Veterans Review Board will be reviewed by the Commission before the VRB process begins, 

adequately safeguard veterans' rights and interests. The Ex-Service Organisations Leaders also believes that, in the event of the current trial of Alternative Dispute Resolution procedures in NSW and the ACT being extended to all Review Board proceedings, veterans' interests will be further protected.

The 'Single Path' for reconsideration of decisions contained in the Bill was recommended by the Review of Military Compensation Arrangements Committee and has received widespread support from the veteran community.

The ongoing concern for the Ex-Service Community is the imbalance in legal resources with the Department being able to fund expensive legal advice and assistance to contest claims while legal aid funds available to veterans and ex-service men and women are restricted. The cost of justice is often out of the reach of ordinary people.

Note 1: Defence Force Welfare Association; Naval Association of Australia; Australian Special Air Service Association; Royal Australian Regiment Corporation; Royal Australian Air Force; Australian Federation of Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Ex-Service Men and Women; Partners of Veterans Association of
Australia; Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia; Legacy Australia Council; and War Widows Guild of Australia.

Push to Establish an Australian Defence Covenant

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Senator James McGrath Senator for Queensland Media Release 9 September 2015

Queensland LNP Senator James McGrath has today launched a nation-wide petition calling for the establishment of an Australian Defence Covenant. Watch his presentation to the Senate here

Senator McGrath said defence force personnel and their families made a unique contribution to the nation that needed the formal support and recognition of Australia's Parliament.

"The brave men and women of Australia's defence force make a contribution like no other, defending our freedoms and liberties at home and abroad," Senator McGrath said.

"Whether it's leading a multinational humanitarian task force in East Timor, fighting militant jihadists in Afghanistan or responding to disasters like the Black Saturday bushfires – the Australian Defence Force serves our nation valiantly."

Senator McGrath said a Defence Covenant would act as a charter of rights for serving, discharged and retired members of the Australian Defence Force and their families. "This idea is essentially based upon the notion that the entire country has a moral obligation to the men and women who serve and have served in our armed forces, and their families," Senator McGrath said.

Senator McGrath said the idea had in principle support from ex-service organisations including the Defence Force Welfare Association, the Queensland Veteran's Advisory Council, Legacy, the Alliance of Defence Service Organisations and Mate for Mates.

National President of the Defence Force Welfare Association Colonel David Jamison warmly welcomed Senator McGrath's initiative.
"The time for adopting an Australian Military Covenant has now arrived. It flows from an understanding of the unique nature of military service, a concept now widely accepted in the wider community and universally by all sides of politics," Colonel Jamison said.

To sign this important petition please visit: www.defencecovenant.com

Media contact: 07 5441 1800 or 0427 200 674 

Labor Snubs Veteran Community & Supports Lawyers Over Veterans

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MINISTER FOR VETERANS' AFFAIRS - Media Release Monday, 7 September 2015


The Opposition's stunning backflip on providing a streamlined single appeal pathway for appeals under veteran compensation claims is proof that Labor has abandoned the interests of Australia's veterans and is now completely at the beck and call of backroom puppeteers.

In 2011, under the former Labor government, the Review of Military Compensation Arrangements was completed.

During the review process the ex-service community made it very clear that it wanted the current dual appeal pathway scrapped in favour of a streamlined, fairer and simpler single appeal pathway for clients who are covered by the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA).

The Bill debated in the Senate today will give clients covered by the MRCA access to the same appeal pathway as those clients who are covered under the Veterans Entitlement Act 1986, no more and no less. This is exactly what the veteran and ex-service community demanded through the review process.

In May 2012, Labor announced it would adopt these recommendations, the ones it has today sought to oppose.

Under the current system, some MRCA clients do not have access to the Veterans' Review Board.

The new system will ensure that all MRCA clients have access to the Veterans' Review Board, an independent appeal mechanism that does not require veterans to retain the services of a lawyer. Instead, veterans could be represented by a veteran advocate who provides services free of charge.

This appeal process has stood the test of time and has the full support of the veteran and ex-service community. Importantly, the ex-service community has been constantly engaged in the development of these legislative changes since the former Labor government's acceptance of the recommendation more than three years ago.

Until just yesterday, Labor continued to support these changes:

"It makes sense to have a single appeal pathway via the Veterans Review Board" (Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs David Feeney, 7 September 2015, News Corp article)

Schedule 2 of the bill will streamline the appeals process into a single pathway for reconsideration or review of an original determination under chapter 8 of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act. This amendment has the support of ex-service organisations and I commend the government for putting it in. (Former Labor Minister for Veterans' Affairs Warren Snowdon, 20 August 2015, House of Representatives)

The changes to be made to the review process under this bill will streamline the process into a single pathway, and that is a good thing. This part of the amendment has the full support of the ex-service organisations. (Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney-General Graham Perrett, 20 August 2015, House of Representatives)

It is extremely disappointing to see that the Labor Party has now joined Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie in turning their backs on the veteran community by opposing these changes at the behest of compensation lawyers.

Compensation lawyers are opposed to this reform because by ensuring that all veterans have access to the Veterans Review Board, fewer cases will proceed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which in turn means fewer fees for lawyers.

The Government is united with the ex-service community in unanimously supporting the single appeal pathway – the only people who have spoken against its implementation are compensation lawyers and now the Labor Party and Senator Lambie.

The Abbott Government is putting the interest of veterans ahead of compensation lawyers. Jacqui Lambie and Labor ought to do the same.

Media enquiries: Minister Ronaldson: Mark Lee 02 6277 7820 or 0408 547 381

LEGACY APPEAL 2015 - Ross Eastgate Reports

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For each serving Australian who risks everything - a family does the same. Australians will have the chance to show their support for these very special families by buying a badge during Legacy Week, August 30 to September 5, 2015. MATTHEW Millhouse will be farewelled in Hobart this afternoon. Matt died last weekend aged 36, leaving behind his widow Terese and daughter Eleanor. He was a soldier once, with all the hopes and dreams that inspire those who follow the profession of arms. And like everyone else he thought he was bullet proof, safe from harm. It wouldn’t be him whose name would be on the walls of the Australian War Memorial’s Hall of Memories, or the broken old digger damaged irrevocably by his service. It didn’t happen that way for Matt Millhouse. He won’t be here this Sunday to share Fathers’ Day with his daughter, nor celebrate another birthday, nor watch his daughter grow, mature, marry and have children of her own. It needn’t have been this way, but this was the hand fate dealt Matt and his family. He didn’t die on the battlefield and he didn’t die by his own hand but he died as a direct result of his operational service. In Baghdad in 2004 Trooper Millhouse’s light armoured vehicle took the full brunt of a roadside IED, critically injuring his troop commander Lieutenant Garth Callender. Matt seemed to have survived the blast unscathed, though no one then could have envisaged the horrendous consequences to follow. What no one knew, nor was immediately obvious was he had suffered a significant brain injury which would manifest as early onset dementia and claim his young life far too early. Physical injuries are obvious and treatable though too many lives have been dramatically affected leaving a lifetime legacy of pain and struggle. Traumatic brain injuries and more insidiously psychological injuries are often invisible but no less debilitating. Just as an IED radiates its damage to all within its brutal reach so personal injuries can and always do affect not just the individual but also family, friends and acquaintances. Collateral emotional damage casts a wide net when a soldier is killed, injured or dies subsequently of combat related causes. Matt Millhouse may be one of those who shall grow not old but he is more than a statistic. He was a husband, father, mate and his mates rallied this week to ensure Terese and Ellie would not bear the pain of his passing alone nor the cost of his funeral. It’s what mates do. It’s what Legacy has been doing for nearly a century as those who were left to grow old vowed they would care for the widows and orphans of their mates who were not afforded that privilege. They realised at Gallipoli and on the battlefields of Palestine and the Western Front their responsibilities to their mates would not end when the guns fell silent but last as long as survivors and families remained. A century after that war Legacy is still caring for widows of World War I veterans. Subsequent conflicts leaving similarly bereaved families mean its work is far from done. This Legacy week dig deep and show Matt Millhouse’s family and others similarly affected we still care. To make a donation or volunteer your time visit www.legacy.com.au or call 1800 534 229

TPI Federation Media Statement - Disabled Veterans Struggle to Survive on Meagre Government Compensation

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The Australian Federation of Totally & Permanently Incapacitated Ex-Servicemen & Women has begun a campaign to lobby the Federal Government for fair economic loss compensation to be afforded to our most disabled Veterans (Special Rate/Totally & Permanently Incapacitated (SR/TPI)) by adjusting their compensation payment to reflect today's standard of living. These Veterans, most physically and psychologically disabled from their service to the Nation, can no longer produce an income for themselves or their families that maintains that standard of living.

The President of The TPI Federation, Tony Mogridge, has launched The Federation's campaign by releasing a Media Statement dated 17 August 2015, initiating a public petition Fair Compensation for our Most Disabled Diggers and releasing this explanatory awareness SR/TPI video.



In April of this year the Australian Federation of Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Ex-Servicemen & Women wrote to the Prime Minister and asked that the Special Rate/Totally & Permanently Incapacitated (SR/TPI) Compensation payment be adjusted to reflect today's standard of living.

The Federation is asking that the most disabled Veterans in the community be allowed to live in dignity and with some self-esteem by having the SR/TPI Compensation increased to 100% of the average weekly wage. It is currently at 43%. This has diminished over the past 65 years from 80% to 43%.

This is a deplorable situation for our most affected Veterans. This explains a number of things –
• the number of Veterans who are homeless,
• the number of Veterans' whose spouses/partners mustwork in order to bring in a worthwhile income for
them and their children,
• the number of Veterans who cannot afford the ever increasing cost of living – especially electricity
• the number of Veteran and Civilian organisations who are relied on to provide the very services that the
Government should be providing,
• and the number of Veterans who cannot hold their heads high with the proud knowledge that they have
done their country proud and that the Government will look after them. .
It is most disappointing that at this time of immense fiscal wastage that the Government cannot find less than
half of 1% of GDP to look after those who have already looked after them. 



Please show your support for our ADF and especially those disabled in service to Australia by: 
1. Signing the petition: and 
2. Sharing the petition with your network of colleagues, mates, friends, families and acquaintances.

Thank You Australia







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Sen. Michael Ronaldson More than 60,000 Australian servicemen and women deployed to Vietnam between 1962 and 1975, with 521 killed in service. Many of those who survived endured great hardship during the war, and returned home with both physical and emotional scars.

Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of Anzac Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson has today asked all Australians to honour those who fought in Vietnam at our nation's request.

"It is important that we properly acknowledge the service and sacrifice of these men and women, who upheld the finest traditions of the ANZACs during this terrible war," Senator Ronaldson said.

To recognise the participation of Australian service personnel in the Vietnam War, the Australian Government is undertaking a range of commemorative activities over the next 12 months.
"Today, we have published a new online Vietnam War Roll of Honour Image Gallery that features a range of images, from cherished family photographs to enlistment portraits and candid pictures taken in Vietnam, of the 521 Australians who did not return from war," Senator Ronaldson said. The images were collected over several years by staff of the Office of Australian War Graves, with many provided by relatives and friends of our war dead. To access the gallery visit: http://vietnam-war.commemoration.gov.au.

Senator Ronaldson said a major national commemorative service marking the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan would take place in August 2016 at the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial in Canberra.

"Planning is also underway, in consultation with the Vietnamese Government, for a small veterans' mission to travel to Vietnam in August 2016," Senator Ronaldson said.

"To assist local communities in honouring the service of our Vietnam veterans, a special one-off funding round will be built into the 2015-16 Saluting their Service grants programme. The program will award grants of between $4,000 and $20,000 for initiatives such as commemorative events and reunions," Senator Ronaldson said.

Plans to repatriate the remains of Australian soldiers who died during the Vietnam War and are buried overseas – should families choose to accept the offer – are on track to occur in the middle of next year.

"Unfortunately, many of our Vietnam veterans did not receive the appropriate recognition for their service and sacrifice when they returned home from the War," Senator Ronaldson said.

"I encourage all Australians to reflect on their service today and to consider how they can be involved in next year's 50th anniversary commemorations," Senator Ronaldson said.

Media enquiries:
Minister Ronaldson: Mark Lee 02 6277 7820 or 0408 547 381
Department of Veterans' Affairs media: 02 6289 6203

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