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Vol 35 No.2 Winter 2019

Welcome to the Winter 2019 edition of Vetaffairs

Front cover of Vetaffairs Winter 2019 editionThe Winter 2019 issue of Vetaffairs is now available via the links below. Highlights include:

Listen to the audio version (MP3 100.66 MB), noting the large file size.

Email vetaffairs@dva.gov.au to:

  • receive future issues of the audio version on CD
  • subscribe to the electronic version of Vetaffairs
  • request a PDF version
  • subscribe to DVA e-news (for more frequent news updates from DVA).

News

Paying tribute around the world

Thousands gathered at historic sites and memorials around Australia and across the world to reflect on the service and sacrifice of Australian defence personnel.

Chester reappointed Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel

Following the recent federal election, the Hon Darren Chester MP was reappointed Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel.

Assistance dogs trial continues

Researchers from La Trobe University are seeking veterans to take part in the second phase of the Psychiatric Assistance Dogs Trial being conducted for DVA. The department anticipates that up to 20 veterans will participate in the four-year trial.

Letters to the Editor

Letters on the ANZAC tile, and Professor Ian Gardner.

News from the Department

The Secretary reflects on her first year in the role and what has made it memorable, including the final Centenary of Anzac commemorations and building a better DVA.

News from the Minister

Now that he has been reappointed as Minister, Darren Chester says he’s getting on with putting veterans and their families first and building on the partnerships with DVA, ex-service organisations and the wider veteran community.

Remarkable pictures of remarkable people

Thank you for your service is an exhibition of remarkable photographs, taken by Alex Ellinghausen, and the stories of 46 men and women who serve or have served in defence of Australia.

New Repat Commissioner seeks close interaction with veterans

The Vetaffairs team sat down with Don Spinks AM to discuss his background, his service and what he hopes to bring to the role of Repatriation Commissioner.

Gold Card extended to South Vietnam SEATO medical teams

Australian civilian surgical and medical team members who provided medical aid and training in civilian hospitals in South Vietnam between October 1964 and December 1972 will be entitled to additional health support through DVA.

Help finding aged-care services

The Aged Care System Navigator Measure involves trials in different locations to help people understand and engage with aged-care services. The trials are testing different ways to help people who are finding it difficult to navigate aged care.

Veterans’ Health Week – Mental health and wellbeing

Veterans’ Health Week runs from 26 October to 3 November 2019 and the theme this year is mental wellness. A focus is DVA’s AT-Ease portal which provides veterans and families with information, resources and links to services that support mental health and wellbeing, and social connectedness.

One-off Energy Assistance Payment

The Energy Assistance Payment is a one-off payment to assist eligible individuals with their energy bills.

Indexation of rates 1 July 2019

The Income Free Areas and Assets Value Limits used to calculate rates of income support pensions rose from 1 July 2019.

Changes deferred to allied health referrals

The Government has decided to defer its changes to allied health referrals. From 1 October 2019 (not 1 July as stated in the hard-copy version of the Vetaffairs Winter edition), allied health referrals will be valid for up to 12 sessions or a year, whichever ends first.

Annual increase to travel allowances

Travel allowances for transport, meals and accommodation under DVA’s Repatriation Transport Scheme will increase from 1 July 2019 in line with the consumer price index.

Transforming DVA

How data will enhance veterans' wellbeing

The job of DVA’s Chief Data Officer, Dr Paul Nicolarakis, and his team is to gather the huge amount of veteran data held by the department to shape the policies and programs DVA implements as well as assess ongoing performance of the department in its service delivery. The strategic emphasis of this work is to support the long-term wellbeing of veterans and their families.

Putting veterans and their families first

As DVA prepares to enter the third year of its transformation program, veterans and their families remain at the heart of the transformation. The transformation program is building a more proactive DVA that supports the wellness and success of veterans and their families throughout their lives.

Community Hub one-stop shop for DVA grants

The Department of Social Services’ Community Grants Hub is a whole-of-government portal where you can search for grants and submit online applications.

Widows’ News

Annual tribute to service

More than 270 people attended the 68th annual Field of Remembrance Service held by the War Widows' Guild of NSW. The special service has been held annually since its conception in 1952 for widows of war and their families.

Keeping memories of Vietnam alive

Ten Western Australian students have recently returned from Vietnam after being selected for The Premier’s Anzac Student Tour 2019.

AWWQ participates in Memorial Garden ceremony

HMAS Moreton, on the banks of the Brisbane River, was the venue for the recent opening of the Commander Lachlan King Memorial Gardens.

Health and Wellbeing

Flu, and why we should vaccinate

In Dr Jenny Firman’s first Vetaffairs column as Chief Health Officer she discusses influenza, why we should care, how to prevent it and when we should vaccinate.

Tips for caring for your skin

Now that winter has set in, it’s time to think about taking time to care for your skin, the largest organ in the human body. Your skin has a number of important functions, so as we age it’s worth taking steps to ensure we are looking after it.

Need help dealing with drug and alcohol issues?

Dr Loretta Poerio (DVA’s Mental Health Adviser) discusses DVA’s services and resources in relation to drug and alcohol issues.

New technology cuts mental health care waiting times

Getting access to the services provided by Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling has become much simpler since a new phone intake service began early this year. The new service – Client Assist Contact Centre – has proven popular since it launched.

Staying socially connected – AT-Ease can help

Being socially connected is an important factor in a happy and fulfilling life. While service in the Australian Defence Force provides great opportunities to form and maintain lifelong friendships, it can be tough to stay socially connected post discharge. AT-Ease, DVA’s mental health and wellness online portal, can help with this.

Focus on role of advocates

The report on the Veterans’ Advocacy and Support Services Scoping Study proposes 12 recommendations providing a pathway forward on advocacy services.

Transitioning well

Supporting the change to civilian life

DVA and Defence are working together to ensure that you have the assistance and support you need during and after your transition. Both agencies are also working together to respond to the recommendations of the Parliamentary inquiry into transition from the Australian Defence Force.

Change to defence company eases exit

Claire Kluge, who joined the RAAF in 1995, talks about her transition into civilian life in 1998. She has worked for Boeing Defence Australia since 2002.

Home-grown training company sets Ray’s course

Ray Carson served in the Australian Army from 1987 to 1991. He found transitioning to civilian life difficult and still misses the Army. He has set up an adventure company called Xperiences, which provides team-building and training experiences for the government, not-for-profit and corporate sectors.

Free annual health checks for new veterans

All Australian Defence Force members who transition back to civilian life on or after 1 July 2019 can now get a comprehensive health assessment from their GP each year for the first five years following transition. The assessment is fully paid-for by DVA at no cost to you.

Private sector values veterans

A military career is a great asset for someone considering the transition to the private sector. BAE Systems Australia employs a significant number of veterans who have brought with them a range of defence skills and experience.

Building opportunities in construction

Business partners, retired artillery officer Daniel Cairnes and former SAS member David Farrell, established Veterans in Construction in Victoria last year. The company has quickly grown to having more than 90 veterans on its books and plans to extend its reach nationally.

Helping the modern veteran transition well

Australian Defence Force members considering their future can gain access to a range of enhanced and new services, as Defence invests in greater support to meet the changing needs of the modern transitioning veteran and their family.

New career renews sense of service

Geoffrey Cann says his training as an Electrical Technical Weapons sailor at HMAS Nirimba, the former Royal Australian Navy Apprentice Training Establishment, equipped him for a defence-related industry career.

Trust initiative supports self-employed veterans and families

Prince’s Trust Australia has relaunched an initiative that helps veterans and their families build skills and confidence to explore self-employment.

DVA helps with post-discharge rehab

When it comes to rehabilitation of veterans, no two people are the same. Wellbeing and recovery from injury or illness means different things to different people, which is why DVA tailors plans to suit the individual.

DVA helps Charles back in business

Charles Cannard enlisted in the Army in March 2009 and became a gunner in the Royal Regiment of the Australian Artillery. After being medically discharged, DVA supported Mr Cannard to adjust to civilian life.

Features

VVCS course builds 20-year bond

In April 1999, a group of nine Vietnam veterans and their partners were dubbed the Braidwood Seven, after they ‘clicked’ at the seventh Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service (now Open Arms) Lifestyle Program Course at Braidwood in southern NSW. In March 2019, the remaining couples gathered in Tumut NSW to celebrate the 20th anniversary of regular contact arising from that course.

Darwin’s flyers get credit they deserve

Seventy-seven years after the Bombing of Darwin, a plaque has been unveiled on the city’s Esplanade recognising the service of two Darwin-based Hudson bomber squadrons.

Off the Shelf

  • Peas, Beans and Bullets – Aussie soldiers supporting the combat force in Vietnam
  • Ready, Aim, Fire – Major James Francis Thomas – The Fourth Victim in the Execution of Harry ‘Breaker’ Morant
  • Uncle Harry’s War – the diaries and postcards of Private I H Betteridge 7209 23rd Battalion WWI
  • D-Day New Guinea
  • A Very Chequered Career
  • In Dogs We Trust – we are the war dogs team and this is our story.

Awards shed light on Hellfire Pass for students

Greensborough RSL, in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, is determined to ensure students in its local schools are more aware of Australia’s wartime history through an annual scholarship for local senior school students.

Railway research centre popular among uni interns

The Australian Government’s Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre at Kanchanaburi in Thailand offers one of the country’s most popular intern programs for university students.

Daily praise for Bomana War Cemetery staff

The 11 locally engaged staff who maintain Port Moresby’s Bomana War Cemetery receive recognition and acknowledgement for their excellent work almost daily from the site’s many visitors. The Bomana War Cemetery is one of three war cemeteries in Papua New Guinea.

75th anniversary of the Cowra Breakout

Cowra, in NSW, is planning a long weekend of activities to mark the 75th anniversary of the Cowra Breakout, a mass escape by Japanese prisoners of war from the POW camp near the town in 1944.

Working together to recover remains of missing Korean War casualties

The Department of Defence, with veterans and families of the missing casualties of the Korean War, are collaborating to undertake research and support for those who seek the remains of those still missing.

Veteran Sport Australia helps people connect via sport and recreation

Last October’s highly successful Invictus Games in Sydney has led to the creation of a new organisation to help connect veterans and their families with sport and recreational opportunities.

Celebrating 100 years

Iris Terry, Concie Marshall, Leila Moag, and Frank Martin all turn 100 years old this year. Read their inspiring stories.

Commemorations

1,500 visitors reflect at Gallipoli ceremonies

Almost 1,500 visitors made their way to North Beach on the Gallipoli Peninsula to attend the Anzac Day Dawn Service and pay tribute to those who landed there 104 years ago, and to all those who have served in our defence forces since.

Visitors moved by Anzac Day Dawn Service in France

Around 2,000 visitors attended the Anzac Day Dawn Service in France, exactly 101 years after the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux on the Western Front during the First World War.

Schools’ area of reflection seals Anzac spirit

Two years ago, a class idea to create an area of reflection for Australia’s fallen and serving Defence men and women grew into a Remembrance Garden at the Playford/McAuley combined schools campus in Craigmore, South Australia.

Australian War Memorial

Items for Sale

  • Hell of a time: an Australian soldier’s diary of the Great War (book)
  • Hall of Memory medallion
  • An Australian Band of Brothers (book).

Exhibition explores the personal costs of war

After the War is an exhibition at the Memorial that explores the personal stories of hope, loss and love of ordinary Australians whose lives have been altered by war, from those who have served to loved ones left behind.

Entries sought for Veterans Film Festival

Veterans who are film-makers are being encouraged to enter their work for the fifth annual Veterans Film Festival. The festival brings people together to discover extraordinary stories, focusing on recent work by veterans or films made with veteran themes and about all who experience conflict.

Vetaffairs Noticeboard

Reunion notices

Medals – lost and found

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