Tehan Media Release - Response to National Mental Health Commission review

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Response to National Mental Health Commission review - 30 June 2017

TehanDanThe Government is delivering improved mental health support for current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and their families.

The Government today outlined the work it is doing on mental health and suicide prevention in its response to the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) Review into the Suicide and Self Harm Prevention Services available to current and former serving ADF members and their families.

The Government’s response is available here .

The NMHC review helped inform the Government’s action on veterans’ mental health in this year’s Budget, which included an additional $58.6 million in mental health funding.

The Government will now pay for the treatment of all mental health conditions affecting anyone who has served one day in the full-time ADF. This program is fully funded and uncapped. If an eligible veteran needs treatment the Government will pay for it.

The Government will provide a further $8.5 million to expand eligibility for the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) to cover partners and children of current and former ADF members who have had one day of full-time service. Importantly, this now includes ex-partners for up to five years after separation or while co-parenting a child.

Funding of $9.8 million was also provided to pilot innovative approaches to suicide prevention and enhanced support. The Mental Health Clinical Management Pilot will assess the benefits of providing intensive clinical management to help meet a veteran’s complex mental health and social needs on discharge from a mental health hospital, and a pilot expansion of the Coordinated Veterans’ Care (CVC) program will target improved support for veterans with both chronic physical and mental health conditions.

Funding of $6.9 million was provided to improve access to incapacity payments to provide targeted ongoing support for veterans who are vulnerable to financial and employment insecurity due to the episodic nature of their mental health conditions.

The NMHC recognised the importance of a smooth transition from the ADF to
post-service life. Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) are working closely together to improve that process.

The first stage of the Early Engagement Model (EEM) commenced in December 2016, with the first 5,000 new and separating members registered. The aim of the EEM is that when a serving/former ADF member needs DVA in the future, they will already be registered as a client.

Improved transition services are also being rolled out to support ADF members and their families. The new support services include individual coaching and mentoring with a focus on helping ADF personnel find meaningful post-service employment.

The Government is also delivering its ‘No Discharge Without Documentation’ initiative that will ensure all separating members of the ADF leave with the necessary documents to make the transition phase more seamless.

The Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program was launched in November 2016 with the aim of helping veterans find meaningful post-service employment and assisting business recognise the unique and valuable talents of former ADF personal.

The Government agrees with the NMHC that: “continued attention is needed to ensure efforts are effective in preventing suicide and self-harm amongst Australia’s current and former serving personnel and their families”.

Part of the Government’s evolving response to mental health challenges and suicide in the current and former ADF communities is utilising data to improve our understanding of the issue and inform policy decisions.

Later this year, the Government will release the outcomes of the Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme, which is the largest study undertaken on the mental, physical and social health of current and former ADF members and their families.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) today released its second tranche of data on the incidence of suicide among current and former ADF members. Their report can be read here . These figures are the first accurate, robust data ever produced on suicide among the serving, reserve and ex-serving populations.

Starting tomorrow [1 July], the AIHW and DVA will commence a three-year strategic relationship to monitor and report on the current status and future needs of veterans and their families. This work will help us to develop a more comprehensive picture of their health and welfare, and inform future policy and services.

The AIHW study is an important part of the Government’s action on improving mental health and preventing suicide among current and former ADF.

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

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

DVA e-news June 2017 issue

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Articles include:

Applications open for Veterans' Health Week

This year’s Veterans’ Health Week (VHW), to be held from Saturday, 21 October to Sunday, 29 October 2017, will focus on the theme of physical activity.
During VHW, DVA will partner with ex-service organisations and community groups to highlight the importance of having a healthy lifestyle, which can help us to stay connected to others and live a happier and longer life.
IDVA can provide some funding to ex-service organisations and community groups to support VHW activities that reflect the annual theme. Applications for funding are now open until 31 July 2017.

Trial of MyService
DVA is seeking Australian Defence Force (ADF) members who enlisted after 30 June 2004 and have an injury or disease related to their ADF service to register with MyService today.

MyService is a new online service that provides an easier way for clients to get covered by DVA. For the purpose of the MyService trial, the term ‘cover’ is being used instead of ‘claim’.

75th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein
DVA would like to invite the nomination of Australian veterans who served in El Alamein between 1 July and 5 November 1942 to attend a Last Post Ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein at the Australian War Memorial on 23 October 2017.


MENTAL HEALTH - How to be effective in an age of reform

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How to be effective in an age of reform

Frank Quinlan
Chief Executive Officer

For Australia’s mental health sector the saying ‘change is the only constant’ rings very true, and is likely to do so for some time yet.

We’re all doing our best to strike the right balance between getting on with the important job at hand, while also responding to changes, and preparing for what we know, or hope, is likely to come.

What we know for sure is that one in five Australians currently experience mental illness, and too few have access to evidence based treatment or support. As we speak, the number of people who die by suicide continues to rise. We know that mental illness and substance abuse disorders represent between 10% and 15% of Australia’s total burden of disease and account for a quarter of all years of life lost due to disability.

So, how can we best get on with supporting people experiencing mental illness to seek and receive the help they need, in this age of ongoing reform?

Mental health reform in Australia is absolutely necessary, and any movement towards a better experience for Australians seeking help and support for their mental illness is welcome.

At the moment we still have a fragmented and unlinked environment that is frightening and difficult for people to navigate to get the best help possible. Thank goodness for the incredible people who work tirelessly to make it operate as close to a proper system as possible.

As we grapple with this changing environment, I think all of us need to be constantly reflecting on what we do, and how we do it:
• Do we know what consumers and carers really want from our service?
• Are we the best at what we do, or should we be clearing the way for others to excel?
• In a system that suffers chronic fragmentation, are we making every possible effort to collaborate?
• In a system that so often lacks evidence, are we evaluating the impact of our activities on the consumers and carers that draw on our services and programs?
• Are we actively exploring our failures in the hope of improvement?
• Are we celebrating and sharing our successes in the hope of disseminating our learnings?
We strive every day to achieve a true mental health ‘system’: one that’s linked with clear, evidence based pathways for people to choose and be supported on their journey. Much like the clear pathways that exist for other health conditions like diabetes or asthma.

But today, we must all do our best in an environment that is well short of optimal.

In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “The future depends on what you do today”.


Government Targets ComSuper Invalidity Benefits for Some Veterans from 1 July This Year

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On 1 July some veterans on DFRDB/MSBS Invalidity Pensions who upon application, have had their taxation adjusted to the correct lower rate, i.e. the rate that applies to civilians with similar invalidity payments. This adjustment followed work from a number of successful private rulings from the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

Through a Facebook Group, many veterans sought to apply the findings of these private rulings to Comsuper. These were successful and the law was applied correctly, though it appeared, very reluctantly.

Apparently, following representations from ComSuper (which is supposed to be looking after members), and as part of the sustainable superannuation push, the government introduced changes to the law which removed the avenue that allowed injured Veterans to have their Invalidity payments taxed correctly from 1 July 2017. The Government calls it a “loophole”, however this legislation has been available for many years.

 Those veterans currently affected have already been notified by Comsuper of the changes to their tax as of 1 July.  For most, it means a loss of several hundred dollars a fortnight, for some over a thousand dollars a fortnight. This affects several hundred veterans who have fought the battle and had the law applied correctly. It obviously had potential to the thousands on currently on Class A and Class B pensions that met criteria where they are highly unlikely to be employed in their current fields of experience/expertise.

If you did not previously apply to Comsuper to have the Private Rulings applied to your Comsuper invalidity payment, this taxation change does not affect you.

To make little of the changes because “it currently only affects a few hundred veterans” shows scant regard for the large impact such changes will have on those veterans and families affected. How do people suddenly cope with a loss of $500 a week, when the veteran is totally incapacitated and cannot work due to service caused injury and the wife just gave up her job to be the carer.?

Then, to imply that they are getting away with something they really should not have, because it is a “loophole” is morally repugnant.

It can be argued that the legislation which has been repealed actually isn’t needed; and what is needed is the Government to apply the law as it stands to Injured Veterans invalidity payments through MSBS/DFRDB. That said, the matter is rather complex legally and can be related to other issues concerning ComSuper reporting, Family Court decisions and of course the ATO. There are several possible ways to address this and related issues in the longer term. 

DFWA (and ADSO) are consulting with others in the ESO and Defence Community. This consultation  includes the Facebook Groups who have lead on this and have been doing tremendous work supporting veterans, young and old, and their families on these and related issues. It is hoped that this will lead to collaborative and mutually agreed approach to the issues. This will take a bit of time as it is complex, legal advice will be sought and we are all volunteers!

In the meantime, we strongly support a petition (petition EN0242) concerning this matter which is circulating at the moment. It adversely affects several hundred veterans very badly and will hit them next month. Going forward, thousands of injured Veterans could finally have the same taxation treatment for their invalidity payments as civilians do. They deserve your support. Please sign.

Disabled Veterans face Tax Hike


Notice - Senate Inquiry into Veteran' Suicide Extended to 15 Aug 2017.

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Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee -

Suicide by veterans and ex-service personnel - Senate Inquiry Extended to 15 Aug 2017.

On 1 September 2016 the Senate referred the following matter to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee for inquiry and report by 30 March 2017:

On 27 March 2017 the Senate agreed to extend the reporting date to 20 June 2017.

On 15 June 2017, the committee agreed to request an extension to 15 August 2017.

While the committee requested that submissions to the inquiry be received by 7 October 2016, it will continue to consider and accept submissions after this date. As a large number of submissions have been received for this inquiry, including many of a sensitive and personal nature, there may be a delay between a submission being provided and it being considered and approved for publication by the committee. Thank you for your patience in this matter.

You can ask the committee to keep your submission confidential. Include the word confidential clearly on the front of your submission. Confidential submissions are only read by members of the committee and the secretariat.

In terms of setting expectations, the committee emphasises that it is not in a position to address individual claims of rehabilitation or compensation for veterans and ex-service personnel. The committee's focus is on the broad issues raised in the terms of reference of the inquiry.

The committee recognises that this inquiry will deal with matters which could be distressing for some persons. Persons interested in the inquiry who are seeking support or information about suicide prevention are able to contact a number of organisations including:
• Lifeline on 13 11 14;
• Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service on 1800 011 046; and
• MensLine on 1300 78 99 78.

Committee Secretariat contact:
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee
Department of the Senate
Phone: +61 2 6277 3535 
Fax: +61 2 6277 5818 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


WithYouWithMe - A Veteran Owned Employment Support Organisation

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WithYouWithMe is a veteran owned tech start up that solves the problem of effectively transitioning personnel from the ADF to the Australian private sector.

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Australian society has long struggled to manage the transition of veterans into the workplace because they generally don’t understand the military lifestyle, career, experiences and skills, and thus cannot assign positive value to them.

WithYouWithMe is partnering with Australian businesses to fill this knowledge gap and educate the Australian working force on the true value of veterans in the work place.

The Veteran Employment Report created and researched by us to explain the extent of the problem. Like us, I think you’ll find some of the results eye-opening.

View Report

We have a variety of business ready to hire Veterans across construction, sales, project management, operations, logistics, cyber and others.

Our program is free for all veterans and will provide free training, preparation and placement into a position. We have placed over 80 veterans into fulfilling jobs this past month.

If you are connecting with Veterans who are unemployed, underemployed or transitioning we would like to chat with them about our career pathways.

Send them directly to https://www.withyouwithme.com.au/ to register their interest or give them my details directly.

Thank you for helping the Veteran community.

Tom Larter
Enterprise Account Manager

E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
P: 0400 019 604
W: http://www.withyouwithme.com.au/
L: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-larter-71597589/


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Don't fall for a scammer's phishing bait

The ACCC is warning people to stay alert to ‘phishing’ scammers pretending to be from well-known businesses and government departments trying to con unsuspecting victims out of their personal information and money.

So far in 2017, the ACCC’s Scamwatch has received more than 11,000 reports of this scam, with nearly $260,000 lost.

Phishing scams are the most common scam reported to Scamwatch—reports are 63 per cent higher than the next most popular category. Statistics also show that older Australians (those aged 65+) are particularly vulnerable to this scam and that email or the phone are the scammers’ preferred tool of the trade for contacting potential victims.

“Scammers use phishing to trick their victims into giving out valuable personal information such as their bank account numbers, passwords, credit card numbers or even their online passwords for their PayPal, Apple or social media accounts. Any personal information you have is potentially valuable to a scammer and they will try to get it off you in a variety of ways,” ACCC Acting Chair Delia Rickard said.

“The vast majority come either via the phone or email. The scammers will pretend to be representatives of well-known organisations, like a bank, phone company or government department like Centrelink or the Australian Tax Office to give them the air of legitimacy.”

“The scammer may say that the bank or organisation is verifying customer records due to a technical error that wiped out customer data. Or, they may ask you to fill out a customer survey and offer a prize for participating. These are all part of a scammer’s bag of tricks they use to get you to give up your valuable personal data,” Ms Rickard said.

Scammers can use their victims’ personal information to carry out fraudulent activities, such as using their credit cards, stealing their identity or scamming friends and family of the victim. Many victim reports to Scamwatch, for example, say they noticed a large increase in spam emails after phishing scammers obtained some of their personal information.

“We’re so used to providing our personal information when we sign up for services over the phone or shop online that sometimes we don’t think twice about giving it out,” Ms Rickard said.




TEHAN MEDIA RELEASE - More than 1,000 jobs for veterans flagged

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Dan Tehan

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today said more than 1,000 jobs flagged as suitable for veterans had been advertised on the Government’s jobactive website as part of the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program.

The Industry Advisory Committee on Veterans’ Employment, which comprises business leaders from the private sector, met in Canberra this week to review progress on a number of initiatives that will improve the employment pathways of former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel within the private sector.

Mr Tehan said in this year’s Budget the Government provided $2.7 million to support the Advisory Committee’s work, establish the Ex-service Organisation Industry Partnership Register and manage the Prime Minister’s Annual Awards.

Mr Tehan praised the positive response since the Government had added a ‘Defence Force Experience Desirable’ category to its jobactive website

“More than 1,000 jobs have already been advertised on the jobactive website as suitable for a former member of the ADF,” Mr Tehan said.
“The Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program is already delivering improvements to the employment prospects of our former ADF personnel.
“It is also raising awareness about the unique skills and talents our veterans learn in the military and can bring to a career in the private sector.
“This program is about improving the transition from the ADF into post-service employment and highlighting the opportunities for business when they employ a veteran.
“The Industry Advisory Committee is developing policies and practices that could be implemented by businesses keen to attract these valuable employees. It is also developing strategies to support veterans as they adjust to a working life outside of the military.
“More than 60 businesses from across Australia have already expressed an interest in working with the Advisory Committee. I encourage people to consider how the unique skills and talents of our veterans could help their business and to register their interest in the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program.”

Industry Advisory Committee on Veterans’ Employment chair George Frazis said the committee was working to ensure veterans got the support they deserve when looking for a job.
“Improving the opportunities available to today’s veterans to secure appropriate employment is just part of the great debt we all owe to our servicemen and women,” Mr Frazis said.
“More and more employers are recognising the valuable skills veterans can bring to their businesses, and the Committee is working to ensure that all businesses are aware of the wide range of skills and capabilities that veterans gain during their service.”

Businesses can register their interest in the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program by emailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

17 June 2017

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

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


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The Defence Force Welfare Association (DFWA) has been advised that the Government and ADF have agreed to present to the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal (DFRT) a proposal that the next three year Workplace Remuneration Arrangement (WRA) for the ADF, commencing November 2017, provides for a 2%pa wage increase for each of the next three years.

Significantly there are to be no “offsets” or conditions of service or entitlements that ADF members will need to offer in recompense.

In the current economic environment the DFWA considers the offer is reasonable, and will seek the opinions of its ADF members before presenting its final position to the Tribunal later this year.

ADF members on DFWA's mailing list will soon be provded with further information and be invited to provide their views to the DFWA at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
As an intervener in the deliberations of the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal's consideration of this matter, the DFWA will take into account the views presented to it by ADF members..


‘I didn’t sign up to be to be in the army’: The untold suffering of military spouses

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This article appeared in Brisbane's Courier Mail byGinger Gorman, news.com.au
June 2, 2017.

  "As a community, we’ve started to turn our thoughts towards veterans who die by suicide. But who is paying attention to the silent distress of military families?"

Psychologist Dr Gail MacDonell is an expert on the mental health of military partners. She is executive director of the Australian Families of the Military Research and Support Foundation. Over the last 20 years has worked with approximately 3000 partners. She is the wife of a veteran

Her body of research clearly lays out the detrimental impacts of military service on the mental and physical health of partners. In one eye-opening paper investigating the wellbeing of partners of Vietnam veterans, the 76 participants list an astounding array of negative behaviours in their wives including: hypersensitivity to physical stimuli like noise, anger, aggression, temper outbursts and mood swings, withdrawal and long periods of silence, manipulation, possessiveness and jealousy, nightmares, insomnia and verbal abuse.

In turn, the women go on to cite numerous mental and physical health issues they are suffering, seemingly as a consequence of their husband’s erratic and disturbing conduct — everything from gastrointestinal problems to cardiovascular disease, cancer and asthma.

The article relates the experiences of three spouses Olympia Yarger, Donna Reggett and Bek Harding as well as comments from Dr Stephanie Hodson, National Manager for Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS)


‘Hidden’ carers urged to connect with Carer Gateway

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More than two and a half million Australians care for a loved one, friend or neighbour but many are unaware of the support services available – and the Australian Government is keen to help. The Hon Jane Prentice MP, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, is encouraging carers to connect with local services through the national online and telephone service—Carer Gateway.

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The following is an extract.

"Your Excellencies , Your Royal Highness, Premier of New South Wales, Defence Minister Marise Payne, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan, distinguished guests one and all, but above all, the Australian Squad Members for the Invictus Games.

Thank you for your service, for your leadership, for your courage. We thank all of our servicemen and women and veterans here today.

The games are called Invictus - unconquered, you are unconquered, you are unconquerable, just as are the values for which you fought, for which you fight, for which our nations stand.

These games remind us of that commitment, that enduring commitment to the wounded, injured, ill servicemen and women, both on active duties and veterans.

Now the Sydney Invictus Games will be on the year 2018, which marks the centenary of the end of World War l.

We know how important it is to honour the sacrifice of our servicemen and women over the ages and our veterans.

In Canberra, the Australian Parliament stands opposite, across the lake, the Australian War Memorial, whose Director, Brendan Nelson, an Ambassador for the Invictus Games, is here today.

That monument is a powerful, quiet reminder to those of us who lead our nation to always seek to resolve conflict by peaceful means. But, if we cannot, and we send our troops into harm's way, to ensure that they are always well led and well resourced. So that they can return home safely, duty done, mission completed, to their families.

And it also is a reminder, as are these Invictus Games, that the best way to honour the diggers of 1914 and 1918 is to support the servicemen and women, the veterans and their families, of today and that is our commitment.

Our servicemen and women defend our freedoms and our values so we may live in peace. Many have paid with their lives. Many more have returned wounded, physically, mentally, emotionally.

And that is why the Australian government is providing comprehensive support to help our veterans return to civilian life. With better services so they can get on with their lives, more funding across a wide range of areas, including mental health and suicide prevention strategies.

We have also personally committed - the Minister and myself and my whole Government - to an employment initiative that will enable veterans to forge new careers.

And the inspiration for that came, Your Royal Highness, from a meeting with my son-in-law and veterans of his era, your era, young veterans in their 30s who said: "We need some help; more help to get business to give us the employment opportunities we need to return to civilian life".

It’s a good example of the way we engage with the veterans community to ensure that we are providing each and every one of them the support they need in every way.

Rebuild their lives, return to civilian life, to continue to serve the nation, they have through their service, kept free.

So the Invictus Games is another way we can honour our veterans. It is a great opportunity to show them and the serving men and women of the ADF, that the whole nation, the whole community, is right behind them.

So I want to thank General Leahy for his leadership. I want to thank the sponsors for their support. And this is a good opportunity, in addition to the support that comes from government for businesses, for individuals, to provide their support in every way to the Invictus Games. We can all show our support for these great Games."


07 June 2017
Admiralty House, Sydney



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DVA is undergoing a transformation to change the way it does business. Through this transformation, DVA clients will receive a better level of support based on their needs and expectations, rather than our complicated legislation and systems.

This May update covers the following subjects:

Improving the Transition Process
The aim is to help ADF members to easily transition to productive, successful civilian lives within a short period of time after leaving the ADF. To and in line with the Government’s 2016 election commitment to create a better veterans’ transition process, DVA, CSC, and Defence have established the Transition Taskforce.........

The Digital Readiness Act
The recent passing of the Digital Readiness Bill through Parliament will allow DVA to implement computerised decision making. DVA will use these provisions only in situations where no human interpretation or discretion is required as DVA continues to modernise its IT systems. Improving computer systems and programs for the Department will mean that in the future veterans will see the benefits of this reform through faster processing times...........

MyService trial
As part of its transformation, DVA is trialling a new online portal called MyService, which aims to make it faster and easier for you to request cover. For the purpose of the trial, MyService uses the terminology ‘cover’ instead of ‘claim’..........

Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act
In order to ensure that the unique nature of military service continues to be recognised appropriately, the Government introduced a Bill to Parliament last year to create a standalone version of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA) for current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members with service prior to 1 July 2004. ............

Protecting your confidentiality and privacy
Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) is committed to preserving and upholding your rights to confidentiality and privacy. .........

Veteran Suicide Prevention Project
Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) is driving forward action on veteran suicide prevention after appointing a Veteran Suicide Prevention Project Manager in Townsville. The newly-developed role will work closely with local stakeholders to develop localised suicide prevention and intervention plans reflective of the local need. NQPHN invites ex-ADF personnel and service providers to join project’s working groups and steering committee...........




Repatriation Commissioner, Major General Mark Kelly, reappointed

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Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today announced that Major General Mark Kelly AO DSC had been reappointed as the Repatriation Commissioner for a period of two years.

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Mr Tehan said Major General Kelly, who has more than 35 years’ experience in the Australian Army, was highly qualified and well-respected.

The Repatriation Commission grants pensions and benefits, and provides treatment and other services under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) to veterans and members of the Australian Defence Force, their partners, widows/ers, and children.

The Commission also provides advice to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs on related issues.

The Repatriation Commissioner has special responsibility for representing the views of the ex-service community to the Commission and plays a key role in managing the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS), Applied Research Program, National Consultative Forums, commemorative grants and commemorative activities.

“Major General Kelly has performed with distinction as the Repatriation Commissioner and I commend him on his achievements, notably the accreditation of the VVCS as a national mental health service,” Mr Tehan said.
“As Repatriation Commissioner, Major General Kelly continues to be a driver of research innovation in VVCS, including the trial of online video counselling and new digital platforms to assist clients manage their mental health.”


Media enquiries:

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

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

Veteran Angus Sim challenges Department of Veteran’s Affairs with own satisfaction survey

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The Daily Telegraph article PAUL TOOHEY, News Corp Australia Network 30 May 2017

THE Department of Veterans Affairs’ latest glowing report on its own performance helping veterans has been challenged by an Iraq war vet who has produced his own comprehensive survey showing it continues to fail them miserably.

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Angus Sim, who suffers post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) after serving in Baghdad’s deadly red zone at the height of the war, conducted his own surveys of more than 700 veterans after the DVA published results in 2014 and 2016 showing high satisfaction among vets accessing claims and services.

Mr Sim’s detailed surveys show a complete reverse to the DVA results, which in 2014 claimed 89 per cent of clients were satisfied or very satisfied with DVA, and the 2016
results, which showed a drop to 83 per cent satisfaction.

Mr Sim’s surveys, networked on Facebook with the assistance of Brisbane barrister Greg Williams, showed that in 2015, 72 per cent of veterans were either unsatisfied or
extremely unsatisfied with DVA, which rose to 82 per cent in 2017.

“No one believes it,” said Mr Sim of the DVA surveys, conducted on its behalf by market research company Orima, for which taxpayers paid $174,500 in 2014 and $220,320 in
2016. “It’s done to make the department and the minister look good.”

In 2016, Orima surveyed 3002 DVA clients, almost two-thirds of whom were over the age of 65.
They were asked specifically about issues dealing with the DVA in the last 12 months — even though most of this cohort would have long since settled claims with DVA and had little contact with the department.
Nineteen per cent of that group were widows or widowers, meaning they had seen no service.
“That just shows they’re surveying people that are happy,” said Mr Sim. “They are 65 plus, the settled majority who’ve had their claims done and dusted.”

The high suicide rate among younger veterans is currently subject of a senate inquiry, (See all submissions here) which will examine complaints that DVA adds to stress with its slow processing of claims. A separate 2015 Senate report into DVA found its services lamentable.

Mr Sim, 32, believes DVA’s antiquated and unwieldy bureaucracy drives troubled vets further to despair.
In comments to News Corp, DVA agreed that “older clients have a higher satisfaction rate than younger veterans”.
It said targeting younger veterans who had experienced recent “warlike” service, to gauge their satisfaction, was not one of the sampling criteria.
“Connecting with younger veterans is a high priority for DVA, which includes the commitment to improve business and technology systems to be more client focused, responsive and connected,” it said.

With overall satisfaction among clients dropping six points between 2014 and 2016, it was examining the results “to better understand why there was a decrease”.
Mr Williams said DVA should conduct surveys that isolated different veteran age groups so a true picture of the satisfaction levels among recently returned vets could be understood.
“The books are cooked,” said Mr Williams.
“They’re cooked because the sampling was very biased to more elderly people and widows who are more than happy to take calls from Orima, because they have no dramas.
“The more pertinent issues relate to people who have been to Afghanistan and Iraq.”

ADSO Comment 
DVA consults with the veteran community and ex-service organisations direct and through its Consultative Fora  of which one is  the Younger veterans - contemporary needs forum (YVF).

It is appropriate for Angus Sim's challenge to be considered by this Forum




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Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today ( 29 May 2017) honoured Australia’s contribution to global peacekeeping efforts on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers.

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“Australian men and women have participated in peacekeeping operations since 1947 and 14 have lost their lives while serving as peacekeepers,” Mr Tehan said.
“Australia has made a significant contribution to worldwide peace operations, including commanding operations in Kashmir, Cambodia, the Sinai, Iraq and East Timor."
“Australian peacekeepers have served in theatres of war and conflict around the world, from the Americas to Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific. Currently, Australians are deployed on operations in the Middle East, Cyprus and South Sudan.
“On the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers we honour all peacekeepers and their contribution to making the world a safer and more peaceful place.
“Australia will honour our peacekeepers with a national service of commemoration on 14 September in Canberra to mark the 70th anniversary of our involvement in peacekeeping.”
“The Government has contributed funding to a national memorial to Australia’s peacekeepers that is currently under construction on Anzac Parade, Canberra.”

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

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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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ABC News: - 24 May 2017

The besieged New South Wales branch of the RSL has a new president after Malcolm Turnbull's son-in-law, James Brown, was elected to replace John Haines.

Today's election came after months of allegations of financial misconduct at the top of the organisation.

Mr Brown, 36, is an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran.

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"I'm very humbled to be chosen by the membership today. There's a clear desire amongst the membership — 38,000 members, 360 sub-branches — to have younger branches contributing," he told Lateline.

The New South Wales Government and the RSL's national branch had called for the existing council, including Mr Haines, to stand down while investigations are carried out.

Despite that, the council ran again for election today and five existing councillors were re-elected, along with several younger veterans. 

In March, NSW Minister for Veteran's Affairs David Elliott called for senior members of the NSW RSL not to take part in any official Anzac Day duties.

However, Mr Haines defied that request and laid a wreath during the dawn service at Martin Place.

Police, the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission, NSW Fair Trading and Attorney-General's departments are investigating the NSW branch over claims of fraud, misappropriation of funds, profiteering and cover-up, in some cases going back a decade.

New boss to push for diversity

Mr Brown was elected overwhelmingly 138 votes to 102.
"We've seen today a number of young veterans being elected — we've also seen a woman elected to the state council for the first time in
quite a while," Mr Brown told Lateline.

Former Commando Mick Bainbridge was elected to the board at the age of 32.
"The average age of the RSL membership in NSW is 69 — the membership of the State Council has been older than that," Mr Brown said.
"The new State Council is going to have a good mix of experience and energy."

Mr Brown is the fourth state president in three years and some would ask why he wants the job.
"It's important. I think I'm going to be spending a bit of time in the coming months getting up to speed on what the organisation's been doing and the extent of our problems," he said.

"This is a 100-year-old organisation ... No-one can do what we do. No organisation has the reach, the goodwill and the thousands of volunteers that we have."

The new president is going to have to get to the bottom of where the RSL's money has been spent.

The State Congress has not been presented with annual audited financial accounts. Mr Brown has promised transparency will be the order of the day as will be diversity.

"Traditionally we've had an image as a boys' club. We've got to make sure there are no barriers to anyone joining our organisation," he said.

See the ABC Lateline interview here starting at the 16th minute

SMH ARTICLE - Australian veterans joining forces in the fight against military suicide

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This SMH article by David Wroe 13 May 2017 is a must read coverage of the fight against military suicide

......"Amid soaring concern about veteran suicide and rising dissatisfaction and criticism – some of it fair, some likely less so – of the Department of Veterans Affairs, thriving communities of veterans are self-organising online."

"As the government and the military community searches for ways to reduce the rate of military suicides – which is up to double the rate of the community average in the case of younger veterans – there are calls for better co-ordination among veterans groups and also between them and the government." .......


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