British Army Recruitment Campaign Focuses on Islam, Sexual Diversity, Banishes Macho Image

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Top military brass planned to drop the British Army’s famous ‘Be the Best’ recruitment slogan and crossed swords crest, alleging they are “elitist” and “non-inclusive”.
Defence secretary Gavin Williamson stepped in at the eleventh hour to veto the politically correct plans, which were to take effect from January 2017 on the expensively-procured advice of third-party “image consultants”, the Mail on Sunday reports.

“Market research in May 17 found that ‘Be the Best’ did not resonate with many of our key audiences and was considered dated, elitist and non-inclusive,” noted a document title ‘The Army Brand’, produced under the direction of General Sir Nick Carter.

“The ECAB [Executive Committee of the Army Board] therefore agreed that its use should be phased out as soon as affordably possible. The retirement of Be the Best will commence immediately with all planned refreshes of Be the Best branded material cancelled in favour of brand-compliant products.”

The planned overhaul was described as “futile lunacy” by critics, with rebranding costs estimated in the millions at a time when the Armed Forces are facing savage cuts.

“The Defence Secretary believes that the British Army is the best of the best and has put these proposals on hold,” said a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence.

Commons Defence Select Committee chairman Julian Lewis had also spoken against the changes, saying: “Being the best is nothing to be ashamed of – it is a matter for pride and a very positive message to transmit. Why should we be afraid of excellence when we are constantly saying our Armed Forces are the best in the world?”

While the move is likely to prove popular with the Tory Party’s conservative base, which has been frustrated by its leaders’ love affair with social justice and long pressed it to stand up against such politically correct initiatives, some critics have suggested the Defence Secretary effectively vetoing commanders will strain relations between them.

These have deteriorated significantly since the Tories first returned to office in 2010 — initially in coalition with the left-wing Liberal Democrats — and began drastically curtailing the Defence budget, while EU contributions and commitments to the inflexible and often questionably allocated foreign aid budget were protected and steadily increased.

Some veterans defended the Government’s decision, however, with Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander of British Forces in Helmand, Afghanistan, and COBRA Committee member, saying it was “lunacy to squander money on a futile branding project” in a time of cutbacks.

“‘Be the Best’ is popular because it encapsulates the desire for our troops to be better than their enemies,” he explained.

It has never been about them looking down at anyone in society, so any suggestion it is elitist is nonsense. The Army needs to be the best and to know that it is.”

Govt refuses to reveal how long suicidal veterans are kept waiting ... to protect a business

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Govt refuses to reveal how long suicidal veterans are kept waiting ... to protect a business

The government is refusing to reveal how often vulnerable veterans are unable to reach its crisis helpline for ex-service members in order to protect the bottom line of a private contractor, The New Daily can exclusively reveal.

The refusal comes as veterans’ advocates warn of a suicide epidemic among ex-service members, with support group Warrior’s Return estimating at least 84 veterans took their own lives in 2017.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs claims that disclosing the call abandonment rates and wait times for the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service would adversely impact the company that manages the service outside of normal business hours.

In response to a freedom of information request by The New Daily, the DVA said the disclosure would give the contractor’s business rivals information that could be used to out-compete the company.

The New Daily has appealed the decision on public interest grounds.

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Michael McCormack named Veterans' Affairs Minister in Turnbull government reshuffle

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download 9Riverina MP Michael McCormack has been named deputy leader of the house and put in charge of veterans affairs in a pre-Christmas cabinet reshuffle.

He will leave the small business portfolio to take on the role vacated by Dan Tehan, who was moved into the cabinet as Social Services Minister. Former Social Services Minister Christian Porter was promoted to Attorney-General following George Brandis’ departure.

Mr McCormack said the call while he was halfway up a 45-metre tall grain silo north of Wagga.. “Only in Australian politics,” he laughed. “This is a good role, particularly for the Member for Riverina given we’ve got three defence bases in my home city and there are a lot of veterans living in and around the city.”

Mr McCormack was the Assistant Defence Minister prior to the 2016 federal election, when he was given the small business portfolio. His return to the defence sector also brings with it a departmental responsibility.
“I was also named the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Anzac Centenary and given next year is the centenary of the end of the Great War there will be a lot of special events locally, across the nation and around the world,” Mr McCormack said.

"DESERTING OUR DIGGERS" - A CURRENT AFFAIR PROGRAM

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"The Australian government has been accused of deserting the soldiers who put their lives on the line to protect our country.

These brave men and women are left to battle a system in crisis that’s nothing short of a national disgrace."

See last night's ACA TV program here

If you or somebody you know needs help, contact:

  • Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit their website.
  • Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS)  24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

GOVERNMENT'S NEW CABINET & MINISTERIAL APPOINTMENTS

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CABINET

Prime Minister - Malcolm Turnbull

Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure and Transport Minister - Barnaby Joyce

Treasurer - Scott Morrison

Foreign Minister - Julie Bishop

Attorney-General - Christian Porter

Home Affairs Minister - Peter Dutton

Sport, Rural Health and Regional Communications Minister - Bridget McKenzie

Human Services Minister and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Digital Transformations - Michael Keenan

Social Services Minister - Dan Tehan

Agriculture and Water Minister - David Littleproud

Regional Development, Territories and Local Government Minister - John McVeigh

Indigenous Affairs Minister - Nigel Scullion

Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister - Steve Ciobo

Finance Minister and Special Minister of State - Mathias Cormann

Revenue and Financial Services Minister and Minister for Women - Kelly O’Dwyer

Defence Industry Minister - Christopher Pyne

Defence Minister - Marise Payne Resources

Northern Australia Minister - Matt Canavan

Energy and Environment Minister - Josh Frydenberg

Health Minister - Greg Hunt

Communications and Arts Minister - Mitch Fifield

Jobs and Innovation Minister - Michaelia Cash

Education and Training Minister - Simon Birmingham

New Cabinet a19010727027b3c7ae2d0d3bcea632b2

OUTER MINISTRY

Minister for Urban Infrastructure - Paul Fletcher

Minister for International Development and the Pacific - Concetta Fierravanti- Wells

Minister for Small and Family Business, Workplaces and Deregulation - Craig Laundy

Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security - Angus Taylor

Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs - Alan Tudge

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel - Michael McCormack

Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister - Ken Wyatt

ASSISTANT MINISTERS

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister - James McGrath

Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister - Damian Drum

Assistant Minister to the Treasurer - Michael Sukkar

Assistant Minister for Finance - David Coleman

Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment - Luke Hartsuyker

Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs - Zed Seselja

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources - Anne Ruston

Assistant Minister for Vocational Skills and Training - Karen Andrews

Assistant Minister for Children and Families - David Gillespie

Assistant Minister for Immigration - Alex Hawke

Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services - Jane Prentice

Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation - Zed Seselja

Assistant Minister for Environment - Melissa Price

 

DVA SUPPORT SERVICES FOR VETERANS OPEN OVER CHRISTMAS

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Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Simon Lewis said today that crucial support services for the veteran community will continue to be available throughout the Christmas and New Year period.
Mr Lewis said that providing veterans with continued access to support services was particularly important during this festive time of year because it can be a challenging period for many veterans.
“Christmas is a time of celebration for most Australians, but it’s important to remember that for veterans it can bring on a reminder of what has been lost, of the men and women who didn’t make it back home from service overseas and of those continuing to serve our country far from their families and loved ones.
“I wish to reassure veterans and their families that while some DVA services will be reduced during this break, help and support, including mental health support, will remain available throughout the holiday period and they can continue to access crucial DVA services during this time,” Mr Lewis said.

The services that will remain available to veterans include:
Counselling – The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) offers free and confidential, nation-wide counselling and support for current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members and their families. This service is available toll free on 1800 011 046, 24/7.

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

Transport – DVA staff will be available to process transport requests for medical treatment between 27–29 December. The transport booking service will be closed on 25–26 December and 1 January. If transport is required during this period but has not been pre-booked, DVA clients can pay for the transport up front and seek reimbursement when offices re-open. Alternatively, transport can be booked and reviewed, and travel expenses can be claimed online through DVA’s MyAccount at https://myaccount.dva.gov.au.

Hospital admissions – Doctors can admit DVA patients into hospital and request retrospective approval for the admission, where required, when DVA resumes full services on 2 January.

Defence Service Homes (DSH) Insurance – Help with policy and claim enquiries is available 24-hours a day on 1300 552 662. Payments can be made on 1300 304 989 or via the DSH website www.dsh.gov.au.

 Pharmaceutical approvals – providers seeking prior approval for pharmaceuticals can call the Veterans’ Affairs Pharmaceutical Advisory Centre (VAPAC) 24-hours a day on 1800 552 580.

All DVA offices will close at the end of business on Friday, 22 December 2017 and will resume full services on Tuesday, 2 January 2018.

Mr Lewis added that there would be no change in pension payment dates this year over the Christmas–New Year period.
“To all members of the veteran and Defence community and their families, on behalf of the Department I wish you all the best for the festive season and 2018,” Mr Lewis said.

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.

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE - THE LONG TAN CROSS

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Media Release from the PM and DVA Minister Dan Tehan - 6th December 2017

"An important piece of Australia’s military history will find a new home after the Vietnamese Government gifted the original Long Tan Cross to Australia.

Australia’s Ambassador to Vietnam Craig Chittick received the Long Tan Cross from the Dong Nai Province People’s Committee at a small ceremony at the Dong Nai Museum in Biên Hòa last month. An Australian Defence Force member then travelled with the cross on its journey to Australia.

AWM Group Wed 6 Dec 2017

L to R - Tehan, Dinham, Sabben, Roberts, Turnbull and Nelson.

The Australian Government thanks the Government of Vietnam for its generous gift.

The Long Tan Cross was erected by Australian soldiers as a memorial to their fellow diggers who fought and died at the Battle of Long Tan on 18 August 1966, Australia’s most costly single engagement in the Vietnam War. It was removed from the Long Tan battle site some time after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. It was reportedly used as a memorial for a Vietnamese Catholic priest until the 1980s when it was restored and eventually placed on display by the Dong Nai Province Museum in Biên Hòa in the late 1990s.

Approximately 60,000 Australian men and women served in the Vietnam War between 1962 and 1975, including 521 who lost their lives and more than 3,000 who were wounded.

For many Australians, the Long Tan Cross has come to symbolise our involvement in the Vietnam War. It is a powerful memorial to the service and suffering of Australian soldiers.

Thanks to the generosity of the Vietnamese Government, the Cross will now remain in Australia for perpetuity where it will be honoured, as we honour the men and women who served in the Vietnam War. The Long Tan Cross will go on display at its new permanent home at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra from 6 December."

For full details of the Long Tan Cross see Dave Sabben's Pictorial History of the Long Tan Cross

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

Opinion - Molan to Keep Senate Alert

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Commentatort Ross Eastgate opines that IF and when accidental senator Jim Molan is sworn in by Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, Australia’s currently dysfunctional parliament will likely experience a renaissance.

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Molan should never have been an accidental senator save for NSW Liberal Party factional bastardry which relegated the decorated former soldier to the difficult third place on the ballot.
The NSW Liberals should have taken more notice of another soldier-politician the Duke of Wellington, who said “the hardest thing of all for a soldier is to retreat”.
In the unrepresentative circus that Australia’s Senate has become, Molan will be a blast of uncompromising fresh air.

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TEHAN - JOINT COMMUNIQUE Veterans’ Ministers meeting

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JOINT COMMUNIQUE - Veterans’ Ministers meeting

Dan Tehan

The second Roundtable of Ministers responsible for veteran issues has reinforced the need to coordinate effort across all levels of government to ensure the successful transition of those Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel moving from military to civilian life.

.Issues discussed at the Roundtable included improved transition, mental health and suicide prevention, improving employment outcomes for veterans, veteran accommodation and assisting veterans who had been incarcerated.

The Roundtable was updated on initiatives in the Federal budget to enhance veteran rehabilitation and transform the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) as well as the expanded package of mental health support worth $31 million that was announced as part of the Government’s response to the Senate Inquiry into veterans’ suicide.

A commitment by all governments was given to information sharing across agencies to assist in improving transition across all jurisdictions.

States and Territories agreed to examine the feasibility of collecting data on veteran incarceration and to promote non-liability health care for any mental health condition to those who have served one day in the full-time ADF.

As a step towards destigmatising Post Traumatic Stress, Ministers agreed to refrain from using the term disorder and agreed to encourage their ministerial health colleagues to do the same.

The Roundtable supported the establishment of a Veteran Support Services Accreditation Association that would enable Ex Service Organisations delivering services to veterans to obtain formal accreditation.

The Roundtable reached consensus on a common definition of veteran that is to be recognised by all jurisdictions. It was agreed that a veteran would be defined as ‘a person who is serving or has served in the ADF’. Ministers agreed use of the term veteran should not be limited by the definitions contained in existing legislation.

Ministers agreed there needed to be a question about veterans in the next Australian Census. This will assist all levels of government to better support services and support to veterans and their families.

Ministers agreed to establish a working party to explore the harmonisation of veterans’ concessions across jurisdictions.

The Ministers also agreed to mark the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day in 2018 with a nation-wide campaign to acknowledge a minute’s silence at 11am.

The next Veterans’ Ministers’ Roundtable in 2018 will occur in conjunction with the Transition Symposium and the Invictus Games in Sydney.

Federal Minister for Veterans' Affairs the Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Veterans Affairs New South Wales the Hon David Elliott MP, Minister for Veterans Victoria the Hon John Eren MP, Minister for Housing, Veterans Issues and Youth Western Australia the Hon Peter Tinley AM MLA, Government Whip South Australia the Hon Tom Kenyon MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, Community and Veterans’ Affairs Tasmania Ms Sarah Courtney MP, Minister for Veterans Australian Capital Territory Mr Gordon Ramsay MLA and Assistant Minister for Veterans Affairs representing the Chief Minister Northern Territory Mr Tony Sievers MLA attended the Roundtable. Given Queensland is in caretaker mode, Queensland was represented by the Department. 

8 November 2017

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.

 

HEALTH - Online Program Gives Veterans Tools To Thrive

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RAL Qld Branch

Veterans struggling with transition and mental health issues will be able to access online peer-to-peer support through a new pilot partnership from RSL Queensland and Survive to Thrive Nation.

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The pilot will enable veterans to access the Post War: Survive to Thrive personal development coaching program.

RSL Queensland General Manager Scott Denner said Survive to Thrive provided a valuable forum for veterans to build resilience and regain control of their lives.
“A significant difference with the Survive to Thrive program is that it has been developed by a veteran to address the issues he was facing in his own life,” Mr Denner said.
“There is sometimes a perception among veterans that civilian health professionals cannot understand what they are going through, but they can recognise the military mindset that underlies the Survive to Thrive program.
“As well as providing personal development coaching, Survive to Thrive allows veterans to connect with others who have been through similar experiences and come out the other side.”
“It is also a great option for veterans who are living in rural or remote areas, who may have limited access to face-to-face support programs,” Mr Denner said.
He said an independent evaluation by the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation (GMRF) indicated that veterans experienced positive outcomes after participating in the program, particularly if combined with clinical therapies.

Survive to Thrive founder and former infantry soldier Dane Christison said he had developed the program after suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) himself.

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“I began clinical treatment, but I found the courses and programs were tailored for civilians; they didn’t answer the questions I had,” Mr Christison said.
“It wasn’t until I stopped blaming everyone else and took back the power for my own recovery that I began to see how I could move forward.
“Survive to Thrive teaches participants to accept their situation but not tolerate it. We give them the training structure and tools to allow them to take control of their own recovery and boost their wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem.”

Former Army bomb disposal technician Corey Stamp said Survive to Thrive had made a big difference in his life since he discharged two years ago.
“It was what I needed when I got out,” Mr Stamp said.
“I had a breakdown after my first tour of Afghanistan in 2010 but I wanted to go back so I just suppressed everything I was feeling.
“To a certain extent, Defence provides a safety blanket – losing that, combined with losing the routine and all my mates was a real shock to the system.
“Survive to Thrive gave me back the structure that I was missing from Defence, as well as giving me the strength to take ownership of what I was going through and to stop playing the victim,” he said.

Mr Denner said through the pilot program, RSL would provide licences to eligible veterans who might not otherwise be able to afford the program.
“Veterans will get ongoing 24/7 access to the Survive to Thrive portal, including eight coaching modules and an online support group where participants encourage, inspire and motivate each other.”
————————
Veterans interested in the program should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.survivetothrivenation.com/contact-us

DVA - Accessing mental health support, abuse compensation made simpler

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Advice From DVA that can be used as an Information article for distribution to our Defence Family.

Are you struggling to cope because of something that happened to you in the Australian Defence Force (ADF)?

All current and former members of the ADF who have at least one day continuous full-time service, including Reservists, are able to access treatment for any mental health condition. The condition does not have to be related to ADF service and a diagnosis is not required.

To access treatment, call 1800 555 254 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service also provides the veteran community and their families with specialist free counselling and group programs.

This service is available at all times by phoning 1800 011 046, or via its website at www.vvcs.gov.au.

If your condition relates to having been sexually or physically abused while serving, DVA has introduced measures that may make it simpler for you to access compensation and to receive the mental health support you need.

DVA has broadened the use of statutory declarations as part of abuse compensation claims, making it possible for such a declaration to constitute sufficient evidence to establish that abuse took place, in some instances.

For example, if you were abused before 11 April 2011 and you were a child at the time, a statutory declaration alone will now be sufficient to establish that an abuse event occurred (provided that there is no contradictory evidence).

Please note, however, that if you were an adult at the time of the abuse, or the abuse took place after 11 April 2011, supporting evidence will also be required in addition to a statutory declaration. A statutory declaration in these instances will be taken as strong evidence in favour of the claim.

Claims will be determined on the basis of all available evidence.

These changes make it easier to prove that abuse occurred, if it was not reported at the time. This change will benefit those who may not have reported abuse at the time it occurred or may never have previously spoken about it.

DVA has established dedicated teams to manage all new claims relating to sexual and physical abuse, ensuring that all claims are managed with sensitivity and discretion.

REMEMBERING KOKODA 75 YEARS ON

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30 October 2017

TehanDan
On the 2 November 75 years ago, Australian soldiers retook the village of Kokoda in Papua New Guinea.

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Between July and November 1942, Australian forces fought the numerically stronger Japanese in abysmal conditions along the Kokoda Track, sustaining more than 600 dead and more than 1,600 wounded or struck down by illness or disease.

The Australians forced the Japanese into retreat, culminating in battles at the Beachheads which came at an enormous cost — more than 1,200 Australian lives lost and more than 2,000 wounded.

Today, I ask all Australians to pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice of these great Australians and of all those who served on the Kokoda Track and at the Beachheads during the Second World War.

We also remember the estimated 50,000 Papuan civilians who provided supplies to Australian soldiers and evacuated our sick and wounded.

Lest we forget.

Mefloquine – Two Decades of Damage

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The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has used the controversial anti-malarial drugs mefloquine and tafenoquine for more than two decades, despite scientific evidence linking them to brain damage and poor mental health.

In spite of the drug manufacturers clear warnings of risk, many service men and women were carelessly given these drugs in poorly conducted drug trials. Many now suffer from serious, chronic illnesses affecting their nervous system and mental health.

The majority of those who have sought medical help have been diagnosed and medicated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental illnesses without having been referred to brain injury specialists.

This has led to further decline in health, disabling drug reactions, medical mistreatment, family breakdowns, homelessness and in some cases suicide.

QVFA 15The Quinoline Veterans and Families Association (QVFA) was established by veterans and their families to support those whose lives have been affected by the disabling side effects of these toxic drugs.

This grassroots veteran community group has been striving to raise awareness about this issue and seeking dedicated support for affected veterans and their families.

QVFA does not receive any financial assistance or funding from any government or other veterans charities.

It is now seeking donations from the community to fund world leading research into the toxic effects of these drugs, and to establish a dedicated rehabilitation program for the affected veterans and their families.

We urgently need your help before we lose more veterans to family breakdowns, homelessness and suicide.

ADSO endorses the QVFA’s campaign and encourages everyone to support it with donations to their appeal and representation of the issue to your local Federal and State MPs.

Remember, approximately 5,000 ADF personnel have been given mefloquine or tafenoquine, the majority (just under 3,000) in a series of drug trials conducted by the Army Malarial Institute (AMI) in Bougainville and East Timor from 1998 to 2002.

Hugh Rimmington from Channel 10 News has produced a very good overview introducing the issues surrounding Quinoline to the Australian public which you can view here.

Tehan Media Release - $31 million in additional funding for veteran mental health

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cwlth LOGO

24 October 2017

The Government will provide an additional $31 million to support veterans’ mental health as part of its response to the Senate Inquiry into veterans’ suicide.

As the Prime Minister has said, we best honour the diggers of 1917 by ensuring our veterans in 2017 receive the support they need and deserve. When someone stops serving their country it is their country’s turn to start serving them.

The Turnbull Government has made veterans mental health a priority. An additional $58.6 million in mental health funding was provided in this year’s Budget.

Today, the Turnbull Government commits an additional $31 million to support veterans as part of its response to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Reference’s committee report The Constant Battle: Suicide by veterans.

The Government will provide:

• $16.1 million over four years for a new Veteran Payment for financial vulnerable veterans claiming mental health conditions;

• $7.1 million over four years to extend support for families of veterans;

• $2.1 million over four years for an annual health assessment for ex-serving ADF members for the first five years post-discharge;

• $4.0 million over two years to pilot a case management service for transitioning or recently discharged ADF members;

• $1.7 million over two years to undertake a scoping study to professionalise veterans’ advocacy.

The Government has agreed to 22 of the 24 recommendations made in the Senate committee report and agreed-in-principle to the remaining two recommendations.

The Government has asked the Productivity Commission and the Australian National Audit Office to conduct reviews into the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). These independent reviews will inform further improvements to DVA processes.

Other recommendations the Government has agreed to complement work already undertaken by the Government to further support veterans, such as:

• The $166.6 million investment in the veteran centric reform program announced in this year’s budget;

• The Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program launched in November last year;

• The Government’s response to the National Mental Health Commission Review into the Suicide and Self Harm Prevention Services released in June 2017;

• The ongoing Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports into the incidence of suicide among serving and ex-serving ADF personnel.

The Government is continuing to focus on improving the mental health services provided to our veterans. Mental health treatment works best when a veteran can get help early so the Government has made the treatment of any mental health condition free for anyone who has served one day in the fulltime ADF. The Government will now provide a DVA White Card to access mental health treatment through this program to all personnel leaving the military.

The Government would like to thank the members of the committee for their substantial work to complete this report and for their passion for improving mental health outcomes for veterans.

 

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.

VETERANS' HEALTH WEEK

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Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today encouraged current and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and their family members to take part in events across Australia as part of the annual Veterans’ Health Week (VHW).

Mr Tehan said this year’s theme was ‘Physical Activity’ to promote the fitness, social and mental health benefits of staying active.

More than 200 events will be held across Australia from 21-29 October, with almost 14,000 veterans and their families expected to participate in various activities, including family fun days, golf, kayaking, surfing, cycling, yoga and bush walking.
“I encourage all current and former ADF members and their families to take part in a local event, get active and meet new people who share a common experience,” Mr Tehan said.
“The Government is committed to supporting the physical and mental health of our veterans. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) has a range of programs in place to promote the health and wellbeing of the veteran community.”

Some of the health resources and support services include:
 The Heart Health Program which aims to help increase physical health and wellbeing through practical exercise, nutrition and lifestyle management support.

 Eligibility for a referral from a GP to see an Exercise Physiologist to help develop an exercise plan.

 The Rehabilitation Appliances Program (RAP) that provides access to items to help eligible veterans get back to playing sport and being active.

For more information on any of this support visit www.dva.gov.au or phone 133 254.

For information about Veterans’ Health Week 2017, including event details, visit http://www.dva.gov.au/health-and-wellbeing/health-events/veterans-health-week.
21 October 2017

 

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across
Australia for support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international:
+61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE - VETERANS

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In today's (17 October 2017) House of Representatives Questions without Notice Independent Senator Andrew Wilkie (TAS) asked the Prime Minister this question.

Hansard Reference - page 24

Mr WILKIE (Denison) (14:18): 

"My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, the TPI Federation has written to you repeatedly, seeking a resolution to the dreadful situation where about 28,000 totally and permanently incapacitated veterans have seen their economic loss compensation fall to just 65 per cent of the minimum wage. Prime Minister, given the gravity of this issue, and the Parliamentary Budget Office's validation of the independent analysis supporting the claim by the TPI Federation, will you now take personal responsibility and intervene to facilitate an immediate increase of $176 a week in the economic loss compensation payments to Australia's TPI veterans?" 


Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Prime Minister) (14:19):

"I thank the honourable member for his question.

My grandfather was a member of the TPI Federation, and I know well the work of the federation and respect the advocacy they provide, particularly that of TPI Federation President Pat McCabe.

All Australians are immensely proud of our men and women in uniform. We thank them for their service and we owe them a debt we can never repay.

Ensuring our veterans have adequate support and compensation is a vitally important role of government and one to which I am personally deeply committed.

In gratitude for their service, the government provides $12 billion annually in pensions and services to veterans and their families.

We best honour the diggers of 1917 by providing the best support in every respect to the servicemen and servicewomen, and the veterans and their
families, of 2017.

The honourable member has raised the subject of the TPI pension in relation to the minimum wage. I can advise the honourable member that the TPI pension is currently $1,373.80 per fortnight. I'm further advised that more than 80 per cent of TPI pension recipients also receive income support payments, known as the service pension, of up to $894.40 per fortnight. It's important to recognise that the TPI pension is part of a package of benefits available to veterans, which can also include additional income support payments and medical coverage for all health conditions through the gold card.

In recognition of this important issue, I've asked the Minister for Veterans' Affairs to work with his department and the TPI Federation to analyse the basis of the federation's research and the data used in it.

I want to thank the honourable member for raising these important issues and the TPI Federation for its ongoing role in representing the interests of Australia's veterans.

My government will always do the right thing by our veterans.

I recognise there are various components to these entitlements and this compensation, but I'm less interested in the definitional distinctions, which as a former serving officer the honourable member would no doubt have a keen insight into, than I am in making sure our veterans have the support they need.

I'm also interested in making sure they have financial support that is
appropriate and commensurate with their service, that if they need medical support and treatment it is provided, and that if they need psychological support for mental illness it is provided too.

I can assure the honourable member and all our veterans that my government is committed to them, just as they were committed to our nation in their days in uniform."

ADSO is encouraged by the Prime Minister's affirmation of his Government's commitment to veterans and their families well-being and protection of their service entitlements. Thank you PM.

 

 

ADF'S WORKPLACE REMUNERATION ARRANGEMENT (WRA) DECISION 2017- 2020

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The DFRT today (11 October 2017) approved the Workplace Remuneration Arrangement (WRA) for the ADF for the three years to 2020.

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See the full determination here.

The key features of the WRA are that it:
a. provides for a three year duration, operating from 2 November 2017 to 11 November 2020;
b. provides an adjustment in the rates of salary and salary related allowances of 6 per cent over the life of the WRA via three annual installments of 2 per cent;
c. applies to all ADF members of the Permanent Forces and Reserves (excluding statutory office holders);
d. applies to salary and salary related allowances;
e. does not trade off, remove or offset any conditions of service or retention initiatives to fund the arrangement or propose to do so;
f. is based solely on the performance of the ADF and has no links to productivity offsets achieved by Defence Australian Public Service in the context of bargaining; and
g. is affordable and to be funded from within Defence’s existing budget.

The DFWA made written and oral submission to the DFRT on this matter, outlining the process it undertook to engage with members and recorded that “most of the people” who sent feedback understood the current economic climate “but made valid points nonetheless to suggest the offer may be considered inadequate compared to anticipated wage growth and cost of living pressures.”

The DFWA examined forecast inflation trends for the next three years to explain their “concern for more junior members of the ADF whose dollar increase is smaller because of their lower wage” but who “are subject to the same cost increases as higher ranking members”.

In the hearing the DFWA expanded on this stating “that while those on higher pay grades will be less vulnerable to these pressures, all will find their standard of living compromised if the projected and modest CPI increases come to pass” and that “a pay increase that fails to keep pace with inflation will eventually impact on morale, retention and recruitment and will ultimately affect the ability to deliver capability.”

In summary the DFWA stated that it gives “reluctant support” to the proposed Arrangement.

 

Tehan Media Release - Addressing the RSL National Conference

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Dan Tehan

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today told the RSL National Conference in Canberra that improvements to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs would make it, “a 21st century Department with a 21st century service culture”.

Mr Tehan told the conference that the Government was committed to continuing to work with the RSL, as it sought to change.

“In the case of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, our aim is to have a 21st century Department with a 21st century service culture,” Mr Tehan said.

“In this year’s budget the Government made the first serious investment into the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in years, with $166.6 million to upgrade its computer systems and processes.

“Claims and wait times will be cut by this investment, making DVA a 21st century Department with a 21st century service culture.

“This change at DVA will put the veteran at the centre of how the organisation operates.”

Mr Tehan also attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the Australian War Memorial on Wednesday to honour the service and sacrifice of Australia’s veterans.

21 September 2017

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

Tehan release - Launching $6 million research centre to support veterans with PTSD

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Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said a new Government-funded research centre into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder would improve the lives of veterans and their families.

Dan Tehan

Mr Tehan today launched the $6 million Centenary of Anzac Centre at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne to be operated by Phoenix Australia – Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health.

Mr Tehan said the new centre delivered a 2016 election commitment and represented one of the most significant investments into the research of military-related PTSD in Australia.

“More than 30,000 Australian veterans have an accepted service-related disability for PTSD,” Mr Tehan said.
“The Department of Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs spend more than $244 million a year providing mental health support and treatment to current and former ADF members. In last year’s budget, the Government made the treatment of PTSD free for anyone who has served one day in the full-time ADF and this has led to encouraging results.
“More veterans are seeking help for their PTSD – and getting that help. The Government’s investment in the Centenary of Anzac Centre will lead to improved treatment of mental health conditions, including PTSD.

“The Anzac Centre will undertake pioneering research and provide expert advice to practitioners nationwide who are supporting veterans with PTSD.”

Director of Phoenix Australia Professor David Forbes said: “The Centenary of Anzac Centre provides a unique opportunity to establish a strong national collaboration of researchers, clinicians, ex-service organisations and all agencies caring for veterans, to work together to find new solutions and improve care.”

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17 September 2017


Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.

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