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Vol 33 No.3 Spring 2017

Read the Vetaffairs Spring 2017 edition in interactive Realview format

Listen to the audio version (MP3 93 MB), noting the large file size. You can also request future issues on CD by emailing

Download the printable PDF (1.7 MB).

MyService fast-tracks client claims

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ new trial web application, MyService, has reduced processing times for claims to an average of 28 days, with some claims assessed in as little as two days. 

Students have their say on Department

Tertiary students who access the student assistance program through DVA shared their ideas for reform during a collaborative design forum in Brisbane in August. All of the students who attended the workshop were excited to have the opportunity to provide feedback about how DVA could improve services. 

Any mental health condition now covered under NLHC

As announced in the 2017–18 Budget, current and former members of the Australian Defence Force are now able to access treatment for any mental health condition through DVA’s Non-Liability Health Care treatment arrangements. There is no need to prove the condition is related to their service.

News from the Department

DVA Secretary Simon Lewis, PSM provides an update on the implementation of the 2017-18 Budget outcomes, the attendance of Chief Operating Officer Liz Cosson and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan at the International Ministerial (5-Eyes) Conference on Veteran Issues in London; and Anzac Centenary commemorative events.

Letters to the editor

Reader Neville Rutledge expresses his concern that the Australian people are largely ignorant of the Pacific War insofar as it affected this country, and urges media outlets to take part in developing Australians’ knowledge of their own history. 

First annual Ministerial Statement on Veterans and their Families

On 14 August 2017, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, presented to the Parliament the first annual Ministerial Statement on Veterans and Their Families. The full statement is available on the Minister’s website here

Reports drive suicide prevention agenda  

A series of recent reports on suicide among veterans are helping DVA target its suicide prevention efforts to those most at risk. 

Call-out for Sydney Invictus Games 

Feeling inspired by the performances of the Australian athletes who competed in the Invictus Games in Canada? Nominations for the 2018 Australian Invictus Games team are open until 31 October 2017. 

Engage website a one-stop shop for support, services   

The Department of Defence has launched a new website for current and former ADF members called Engage ‘Supporting those who serve’.

BNT participants and BCOF members now Gold Card-entitled 

From 1 July 2017, Australian participants in the British Nuclear Tests in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s (BNT participants) and Australian members of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF members) have been entitled to a Gold Card. 

A word from the Principal Medical Adviser

Professor Ian Gardner provides advice for veterans experiencing a dry mouth, whether as a side effect of medication or due to other causes. 

Protecting yourselves and your grandchildren through vaccination

As we age, our natural immunity levels decrease quite remarkably, and the previous protection provided by vaccination will decline. This can be offset by ensuring that our vaccinations are up to date.

Robust data on suicide helps DVA target prevention strategies 

The latest findings of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) study, 'Incidence of suicide in serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel 2001–2015', provide the most accurate, robust data ever produced on suicide among Australia’s serving, reserve and ex-serving populations.

Pensions and allowances rise 

Veterans’ pensions were increased from 20 September 2017 following the latest round of indexation adjustments. 

Canberra VAN relocation improves service access

In a move designed to improve access to DVA services for veterans in the Canberra region, on 18 September 2017 the Veterans’ Access Network (VAN) office in Woden ACT was relocated from Corinna Street to nearby Bowes Street.

Veterans’ Employment Program Awards open

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for nominations for a new national awards program recognising employers of veterans. Large or small organisations, in the public, not-for-profit or private sectors that have done great work in employing or supporting veterans and spouses of Defence personnel are eligible as well as veteran employees.

Call for Armistice Centenary projects 

Do you have an idea for a commemorative project or activity in your community to mark the Centenary of Armistice on 11 November 2018? If so, you may be interested in the new one-off Armistice Centenary Grants Program administered by DVA.

Grants program supports younger veterans

Supporting Younger Veterans is a new grants program designed to benefit younger veterans in recognition of the challenges they face transitioning from the Australian Defence Force to civilian life. On 6 July 2017, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan announced that Round 1 (2016–17) provided nearly $240,000 to 11 ex-service and community organisations nationally.

UNSW medallist wins Gandevia Prize

Currently serving ADF member Lieutenant David Woolley has won the third Bryan Gandevia Prize for Australian Military-Medical History for his honours thesis on Australian psychiatric casualties during the Kokoda campaign.

Review of DVA’s ESO Consultation Framework  

DVA recently concluded a review of the National Consultation Framework (NCF).

Keeping our brains in gear as we age 

Ever wondered why some people maintain their edge well into their later years and others don’t? There are a number of factors that can make a difference, and, as Mental Health Adviser Loretta Poerio explains, we have more control over these than we give ourselves credit for.

MYTH BUSTERS: Who are Australia’s veterans?

What does the average DVA client look like? Or the typical veteran, for that matter? If you’re thinking of a former serviceman aged in his 60s, 70s or older, you’re only seeing part of the picture. 

Webinar examines sleep disorders and mental wellbeing

The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) held its second community webinar on 30 August 2017, covering the topic of sleep disturbance.

Civilian partners proud of ADF link but note sacrifices

Sixty-eight per cent of civilian partners are proud to tell others that they are part of an ADF family, but 81 per cent say they have made employment sacrifices because of their partner’s ADF career. These are two of the key findings of the 2017 ADF Families Survey in which 4649 people had their say during the month of March.

Thousands gather for Boer War memorial unveiling

Members of the Returned Services League from across Australia were among the more than 1000 visitors who gathered in Canberra on 31 May to witness the dedication of the new National Boer War Memorial on Anzac Parade. 

Legacy youth take Kokoda Challenge 

Twenty-three Legacy youth, 18 Australian Defence Force personnel and 20 staff from management consulting firm QinetiQ Australia walked the Kokoda Track in late August and early September to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Kokoda Campaign. 

Join us at Veterans’ Health Week 2017

From 21 to 29 October 2017, DVA, ex-service organisations and community groups will come together to mark Veterans’ Health Week. The theme for 2017 is physical activity. To find out about events in your area, check the listings of activities on the VHW website or call 1800 555 254. 

A plan for veteran centric reform

The Australian Government is investing in a program of Veteran Centric Reform to energise and accelerate the transformation of DVA. This transformation will improve the way DVA supports the veterans who have served our country, helping the Department to know, support, connect and respect.  

Veterans, families help transform Department

DVA recognises that the best way to transform is in partnership with people who use its services. To support this, DVA’s Veteran Centric Reform program is using a collaborative design approach to inform the future design of its services. 

Poster: The DVA Transformation

The centrespread of the Spring edition of Vetaffairs consists of an infographic poster setting out DVA’s project timeline for implementing reform (PDF 214 KB) in order to better serve its clients.

A journey of organisational change

Over the last year DVA has begun to deliver a number of tangible improvements that will deliver better outcomes and experiences for veterans and their families. 

Improved outcomes for veterans are in our sights

DVA Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Secretary Liz Cosson outlines the Department’s plans to upgrade its systems, processes and technology in order to improve the way it does business, addressing delays and streamlining the services it offers. 

Scanning of documents speeds up claims process  

A large program of document scanning within DVA is helping to speed up the claims process and make client records more accessible to the DVA staff who need to use them. 

An invaluable chapter in the story of women veterans

Second World War veteran and war widow Elsie Alford’s debut memoir captures the camaraderie among those who served in that rugged wartime environment and tells how the experience changed her forever.

Supporting PTSD sufferers through Assistance Dogs Australia 

The War Widows’ Guild Victoria is proud to have recently provided a donation to assistance dogs Australia, an organisation that provides assistance dogs to people in need including wheelchair users, children with autism, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and people living with dementia. 

Honouring the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam

Vietnam War widow and National President of the War Widows’ Guild Meg Green attended the recent commemoration ceremony at the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) Memorial Grove in Canungra, Queensland. 

Video series chronicles Australia’s Vietnam War

Australians who served in the Vietnam War share their stories in 30 new videos that are available online now and will be showcased in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s Education Center opposite the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (the Wall) Washington DC. 

Travel without insurance can prove costly

As Spring arrives, we start to think about warmer weather and holidays. While we dream about (and plan) the actual holiday, we may not think much about insurance.

Off the shelf  

  • Australian Light Horse: The campaign in the Middle East, 1916–1918 
  • The Secret Code-Breakers of Central Bureau: How Australia’s signals-intelligence network helped win the Pacific War

Sir John Monash Centre website live and taking registrations of visitor interest

The under-construction Sir John Monash Centre (SJMC) at the Australian National Memorial near Villers-Bretonneux in France now has its own website, allowing users to register their interest in becoming one of the first visitors to the facility. 

Remembering Roy Maguire, who was only nineteen

Private Roy Louis McGuire, who is officially commemorated by the Office of Australian War Graves, was as eager to go to war as his mother was for him not to. But by 2018, at 19 years of age, Roy no longer needed permission.

Revamp boosts Anzac Portal’s coverage of Australians at war 

The Anzac Portal: Beyond the Century of Service website has recently been revamped and now contains information and resources about Australia’s involvement in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, Vietnam War, South East Asia conflicts and peacekeeping operations. 

Parliament passes military compensation law

On 7 September 2017, the Parliament passed a Bill to create a new compensation Act for current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members, and their dependants, for injuries and illnesses linked to ADF service prior to 1 July 2004.

Making informed choices about hearing devices

Hearing loss is one of the most significant issues affecting veterans’ daily lives. DVA established an Ex-Service Organisation Round Table (ESORT) Hearing Services Working Group (HSWG) in 2016 to discuss veterans’ hearing services entitlements.

Participants needed for new PTSD treatment trial 

Phoenix Australia – Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health is seeking military personnel and veterans to take part in a study of Intensive Prolonged Exposure Therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Mrs Mac and her girls in green 

In late 1940, the Royal Australian Navy placed an advertisement calling for anyone with Morse code and other signals experience. As outlined in this extract from ‘The Secret Codebreakers of Central Bureau’, Sydney woman Florence Violet McKenzie responded, informing them that she had trained 1200 women in Morse. Commander Jack Bolton Newman was sent to investigate. 

News from the Australian War Memorial 

The loan of medals awarded to Captain Robert Grieve, Lieutenant Clifford Sadlier and Sergeant Lewis McGee takes the number of Australian Victoria Crosses on display in the War Memorial’s Hall of Valour to 82. 

Plaque honours RAF Coastal Command 

A new plaque commemorating the service and sacrifice of the members of RAF Coastal Command during the Second World War has been unveiled in the grounds of the Australian War Memorial.

AWM items for sale

  • Service caps
  • Rounds Complete: An artillery forward observer in Vietnam 
  • The Secret Code-Breakers of Central Bureau

Reunion notices

Medals - lost and found


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