Veterans Deserve to Benefit

THE TOWNSVILLE BULLETIN TACKLING BUREAUCRATIC INTRANSIGENCE – Bulletin Editor Ben English has championed veterans issues since assuming the role. This compassionate, insightful and powerful editorial deserves to be shared.

“WHEN Australia’s repatriation department was established after World War I, a fundamental principle in determining any benefits claim was when in doubt, the veteran should be given the benefit of that doubt.
In Townsville there is little doubt the anti-malarial drugs mefloquine, tafenoquine and primaquine can have long-term adverse health consequences for some individuals who have taken them.
That is why the Repatriation Medical Authority’s decision to categorically rule out a link between anti-malarial drugs and brain injury in ADF members appears to be, at best, a premature one. At worst, it is a decision that may well come back to haunt the RMA in the same manner as the Agent Orange scandal in the decades following Vietnam. Both mefloquine and tafenoquine were trialled on Townsville-based personnel deployed to East Timor and Bougainville at the turn of the century…”


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The first annual Ministerial Statement on Veterans and Their Families.was tabled in the House of Representatives today 14th August 2017

Dan Tehan

“As the Prime Minister has said, in these centenary years of Anzac, we best honour the Diggers of the First World War by supporting the servicemen and women, the veterans and the families of today.

It is important that all Australians understand the unique nature of service. It is important that all Australians understand what support they currently provide to our veterans. It is important that all Australians understand where our support needs to be targeted into the future.

For the men and women who serve or have served our nation; for their husbands, wives, and children; for their mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers – this Ministerial Statement is for you…”



The Department of Veterans’ Affairs office in Townsville is not closing.



The Turnbull Government will ensure all Australian Defence Force Personnel (ADF) are ready for the opportunities of post-service life.

Getting a good job, launching a new career is essential to ensuring our veterans make the most successful transition from the ADF. Our ADF personnel leave the military with unique skills and can make valuable contributions to business. It is in everyone’s interests to recognise the talents of our veterans and encourage the private sector to take advantage of that expertise.

The private sector is best placed to develop strategies to recognise the skills of our veterans during the recruitment stage and to retain them in employment. Today the Government announced the formation of an Industry Advisory Committee on Veterans’ Employment of leading Australian business people that will consider how to mentor ADF personnel and translate ADF skills for the private sector. All participating businesses will be given the title ‘Veteran Employment Ambassador’.

The excellent work done by small, medium and large businesses employing veterans will be recognised at an annual Prime Minister’s Veterans Employment Annual Awards. The criteria for the awards will be developed in consultation with the Industry Advisory Committee.

Businesses will be encouraged to partner with a local Ex-Service Organisation, such as the RSL and Soldier On, to develop strategies for driving veterans’ employment through an Ex-Service Organisation Industry Partnership Register.

The Government will help our ADF personnel by improving the transition from the Defence force into their post-service careers. All personnel will have appropriate documentation, including health records, superannuation and training records, and participate in the formal transition process before separating from the ADF. All separating ADF personnel will also have access to employment coaching services to help them seek and obtain employment.

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) will participate in the transition process and develop a toolkit for veterans seeking employment in the public service. The APSC will also improve information for veterans seeking employment in the public service and launch an online tool for aligning ADF rank to APS classification. The new APSJobs website will include specific information for veterans seeking employment in the APS when it launches in 2017.

An information page for veterans will be created on the Government’s jobactive website. Employers uploading job vacancies will have the option to nominate if the position would be suited to a former ADF member.

The Government has a responsibility to the men and women who defend our liberties. Raising awareness about the unique skills our veterans can bring to any business and smoothing their transition out of the ADF will help even more veterans continue their contribution to Australia.

17 November 2016

Media enquiries:
Prime Minister’s Office: Kathryn McFarlane 0419 850 201
Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale 0428 262 894

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.


The Government will get a better understanding of homelessness in the veteran community through a research project announced today 4th November 2016.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said the University of New South Wales and the University of Adelaide had been engaged to conduct research into homelessness in the veteran community.
The Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) was commissioned by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to run a competitive tender process for the research. The process included consultation with representatives from key Australian and state government agencies, ex-service organisations and homelessness service providers. The research will be completed by the end of 2017.
“This important research will focus on developing estimates of the number of veterans accessing homeless services, the factors that cause homelessness and the experiences of homeless veterans,” Mr Tehan said.
“The aim is to collect data about homelessness in the veteran community so the Government can better integrate support services available to homeless veterans with those offered by mainstream specialist homelessness service providers.
“The study complements work undertaken since 2015 by DVA and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to include veteran identifiers in the data collected about homelessness in the Australian community.
“Veteran homelessness is a challenge that requires a coordinated national approach to ensure the provision of appropriate assistance to all former members of the Australian Defence Force.
“Where DVA becomes aware of a veteran who has become homeless or is at risk of homelessness, it takes steps to ensure they have access to available services and support.”
Homelessness services provided by state, territory and local governments, as well as many community sector organisations, are listed on DVA’s website


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

Editorial Comment. ADSO expects the Study to consider the work commissioned by the ESORT members and the RSL Qld commissioned study and  comprehensive report by Bill O’Chee “A place to call home”, with its 20 recommendations.

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.


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

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

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

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

Free mental health treatment is available now to all current and former permanent members of the ADF for a range of conditions, including for PTSD, depression, anxiety, and alcohol and substance use disorders. To access this service call DVA on 133 254 or 1800 555 254 for regional callers.

10 September 2016

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

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

Praise for volunteer veterans supporting other veterans

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan praised the veterans who volunteer their time to support other veterans with mental health issues as he toured the Peer to Peer Support Network pilot program in Townsville today.

Mr Tehan visited the premises of Mates4Mates to meet volunteer mentors taking part in a mental health support trial and to listen to former Defence personnel talk about their experiences.

The program trains veterans with experience of mental illness to be mentors to other veterans seeking help with their mental health.

“We know that veterans experiencing mental health issues who feel supported during their treatment are more likely to make a complete recovery,” Mr Tehan said.

“A veteran who has served their country and faced mental health challenges can provide valuable insight and support to another veteran who is just starting their journey to recovery.

“The mentors and the veterans share a common experience and a common language. These mentors can look a veteran in the eye and say, ‘I know what you are going through and there is hope,’ which is a powerful message to deliver.

“The mentors taking part in this trial served their country in the armed forces and are serving their country again by supporting other veterans to get better.

“They are helping break down barriers that may prevent veterans from getting the help they need.

“We want our current and former Australian Defence Force [ADF] members to know that services exist to support them and the Government is working on innovative solutions that will improve those services.”

Townsville is one of two centres hosting a 12-month peer-to-peer pilot program to improve veterans’ mental health.

“The Government is also developing a Suicide Prevention Trial Site in Townsville that will be rolled out through the North Queensland Primary Health Network. As part of its work, the trial will focus on veterans’ mental health,” Mr Tehan said.

“This will be one of 12 innovative, front-line trial sites in our fight against suicide, which will improve understanding of the challenges and work to develop best-practice services that can be applied nationwide.

“The National Mental Health Commission will shortly start work on its review of suicide and self-harm prevention services across Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

“One suicide is one too many, and as a society we must address mental health issues together to find solutions. The Government has already announced an additional $192 million to tackle the mental health challenges across the whole Australian community.

“The additional investment complements the range of veteran mental health initiatives introduced by the Government, including access to free treatment for a range of mental health conditions for any current or former permanent member of the ADF.”

“If you are interested in taking part in the Peer to Peer Support Network pilot program as a Peer Mentor or a Peer and would like further information on how to become involved, please contact Mental Illness Fellowship on (07) 4725 3664 (Townsville) or DefenceCare on (02) 8088 0388 (Sydney).”


Media enquiries:

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


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

Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial

Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson
Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs


Monday, 25 February 2013

Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial

The Australian War Memorial has, under successive Australian Governments, always enjoyed appropriate independence from interference by the government of the day.

Over recent months I have had the opportunity of speaking to families of men whose names are not listed on the Roll of Honour. Instead, they are listed in the Commemorative Book, an initiative of the previous Coalition government to honour their service.

However, as the father of one of the young men listed in the book put it to me, ‘his service and memory are put away in a cupboard and virtually forgotten. This really hurts’. No family should be left to feel that the ultimate sacrifice of their son or daughter, brother or sister, is forgotten.

Therefore, as Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, last Wednesday I wrote to the Chairman of the Australian War Memorial, Rear Admiral Ken Doolan AO RAN (Ret’d), and the newly appointed Director, the Hon Dr Brendan Nelson, to advise them that the Coalition would fully support any decision by the Council of the Australian War Memorial to include all peacekeepers killed whilst serving their country on the Roll of Honour.

Service in the Australian Defence Force is unique service. A nation which demands the right to be protected has a greater obligation to honour those who make the ultimate sacrifice wearing our uniform and in our nation’s name.

Our ADF personnel willingly go into harms’ way in pursuit of our nation’s interests, be that in a climate of war or peace. Service and sacrifice in our nation’s uniform and in our nation’s name deserves our nation’s respect and honour.

The Council has always been, and must remain, the custodian of the Roll of Honour. The forthcoming Centenary of Anzac and the anniversary of the events which lead to the Memorial’s creation, present the Council with a unique opportunity to ensure the Roll of Honour remains relevant and central to the story, understanding and commemoration of Australians at war.

New pin to recognise families of diggers

April 23, 2012

A new pin will recognise the role family members make when Australian military personnel serve overseas, Prime Minister Julia Gillard says.
Ms Gillard said at the Kranji War Memorial in Singapore that Australian soldiers make an honourable contribution to the nation while serving overseas but their families also made significant sacrifices.

“This pin will be for these family members across navy, army and the air force who go for stretches without their loved ones, often under anxious circumstance knowing their loved one is deployed in dangerous conflict zone,” she said on Monday.

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Veterans Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon said the Department of Defence would work with family organisations, including Defence Families Australia, on the pin’s design.

“While some community and ADF organisations have included individual badges or medals, no universal pin of recognition across the forces has previously existed,” he said.

The pin is expected to be released later in 2012.


Over the past fortnight there have been technical issues which have prevented distribution of media releases to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs subscription list. This has now been resolved and media releases issued over this time can be found at

Tuesday, 29 November 2011



The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, and the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, today announced an
$8 million trial which will enable chronically ill veterans to have their health monitored by health professionals without leaving their home.

Mr Snowdon said the use of in-home telemonitoring technology, combines the best of the National Broadband Network (NBN) high speed broadband with chronic care management to benefit many in our veteran community.

“This trial will take advantage of reliable, high-speed and high-capacity broadband capability to change the way health services are delivered to the veteran community and allow veterans to access high-quality health care from home.

“Vital statistics will be monitored from home and veterans will also have access to high definition video consultations with their GP or nurse coordinator when required.

“This will ensure the veterans’ health can be observed, any irregularities can be identified and appropriate GP intervention provided in a timely manner,” he said.

Around 300 veterans will be able to participate in the trial in the NBN early release areas of Toowoomba in Queensland, Coffs Harbour and Armidale in New South Wales, Mandurah and Geraldton in Western Australia and Kingston Beach in Tasmania, commencing from July 2012.

Mr Snowdon said veterans in the trial would have an individual health care plan developed for them in consultation with their GP and a nurse coordinator.

“Overseas experience has shown that telemonitoring can have significant health benefits for those involved, including more responsive management of chronic conditions.”

Importantly, the program will be closely linked with the Coordinated Veterans’ Care Program, which provides ongoing, planned and coordinated care, led by a general practitioner (GP) with a nurse coordinator, to eligible veterans who have chronic conditions, complex care needs and are at risk of an unplanned hospitalisation.

Senator Conroy said the trial is an example of the exciting and transformational opportunities enabled by the NBN, and contributes to the Australian Government’s vision for Australia as a world leading digital economy by 2020.

“The NBN is the platform that will connect veterans and their health care teams, providing an avenue for care that is ideally suited to many people within our veteran community,” Senator Conroy said.

All information will be provided via a secure format and the safety and privacy of personal data will be protected.

“The Australian Government is committed to initiatives that are innovative and improve the health of all Australians, utilising a tool such as the NBN to assist our veterans stay to in their own homes for longer is a positive step forward.”

“This announcement builds on the key health reform initiatives such as Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record System to help streamline communication between the various health professionals involved in a veteran’s care, and the Coordinated Veterans’ Care Program,” Senator Conroy said.

More information about the new project is available at

Media inquiries:       Minister Snowdon: Marcus Butler 02 6277 7820

Minister Conroy: Lyall Johnson 0408 258 457

Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Media: Images are available from the DVA Media Centre