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Vol 35 No.3 Spring 2019

Welcome to the Spring 2019 edition of Vetaffairs

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

Listen to the audio version (MP3 100 MB) — note that this is a very large file.

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  • receive future issues of the audio version on CD
  • subscribe to the electronic version of Vetaffairs
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Women's policy forum focuses on wellbeing

Almost 90 women gathered in DVA's head office in Canberra on 14 to 15 August 2019 to take part in the fourth Female Veterans and Veterans' Families Policy Forum.

Veterans' Employment Toolkit launched

The Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester has launched a new Veterans' Employment Toolkit and a revamped Prime Minister's Veterans' Employment Program website.

Veterans Ministerial Council meets

The Veterans Ministerial Council met in Canberra on 23 August. The main focus of this meeting between federal, state and territory Ministers was veteran wellbeing, mental health, homelessness and transition.

Letters to the Editor

A letter on men's sheds, and another from a grateful veteran.

Our Veterans project

Leaving the Australian Defence Force is the start of the next stage in a veteran's life. Veterans have a lot to offer our nation and unique stories to tell. DVA is pleased to bring you some of these stories in a series called Our Veterans.

News from the department

The Secretary discusses recent reviews of DVA, the department's transformation journey and her priorities for the future.

News from the Minister

Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester looks back at three important events he attended that relate specifically to female members of the veteran community. He also discusses transition and the Veterans' Employment Program as well as veteran mental health and the Productivity Commission's final report, various important commemorative events, and the Red Cross Defence Blood Challenge.

Vale Tim Fischer AC 1946–2019

Former Nationals leader, Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister, Tim Fischer AC sadly passed away on 22 August at the age of 73.

Free travel changes in WA

From January 2020, Transwa will maintain digital Pensioner Free Travel Entitlements for registered Western Australia concession cardholders.

Productivity Commission final report

The Australian Government released the final report of the Productivity Commission Inquiry into the system of compensation and rehabilitation for veterans — A Better Way to Support Veterans, on 4 July 2019.

Veterans' pensions and allowances rise

Veterans' pensions were increased on 20 September 2019 following the latest round of indexation adjustments.

Changes to Partner Service Pension eligibility

Subject to the passage of legislation, from 20 September 2019, changes to eligibility requirements removes the inequity between married and de-facto partners by extending the Partner Service Pension for 12 months post-separation to all former partners, including former de facto partners.

Veterans supporting Indigenous youth

The Governor-General opened the inaugural Kapani Cup in Aurukun, Far North Queensland on 13 July. The Kapani Cup was started by a group of Australian Defence Force veterans who wanted to use their skills and training to help young Indigenous men from remote communities.

Changes to the Work Bonus

The threshold for the Work Bonus has increased. From 1 July 2019, pensioners can earn $300 per fortnight (up from $250) before their pension is reduced. In addition, income from self-employment now counts towards the Work Bonus discount.

Deeming rate changes

Changes to deeming rates mean recipients of DVA income support payments are benefiting from changes to the way financial assets are assessed.

Greater access to Pension Loans Scheme

From 1 July 2019, the amount available through the Pension Loans Scheme has increased to one-and-a-half times the maximum rate of Service Pension.

Health and wellbeing

Spring is here — and so is hay fever!

The department's Chief Health Officer and Principal Medical Adviser Dr Jenny Firman provides some tips on dealing with hay fever and thunderstorm asthma.

More than 250 mental wellbeing events for Veterans' Health Week

Ex-service organisations and community groups will be hosting more than 250 events supporting veterans' mental health and wellbeing during this year's Veterans' Health Week.

New program trial for transitioning ADF personnel

Participants are being recruited for a trial called Stepping Out: Attention Reset (SOAR).

The Treatment Cycle — what you need to know

As of 1 October, referrals from GPs to allied health providers will be valid for up to 12 sessions or one year, whichever comes first.

Want a wellbeing boost? Volunteering may just be the tonic you need

The department's Mental Health Adviser Dr Loretta Poerio talks about the benefits of volunteering for you, your family and the community in general.

New Veteran Card on its way

Eligible veterans who registered with DVA after February this year have already received their new-look Veteran Card, and by the end of 2019 all existing card-holders will receive theirs too.

Rising to the Defence Blood Challenge

The Defence Blood Challenge takes place between September and December every year and pits the three armed services (including veterans), Government agencies and other defence-related organisations in a friendly competition to see who can donate the most blood.

Veteran Health Checks for all former ADF members

To support you after you transition from the Australian Defence Force to civilian life, one-off Veteran Health Checks are available for all former members of both the permanent and reserve forces. They are accessible at any time.

Widows' News

Honouring the sacrifice of women and families

On 14 August, the Honouring Women and Families United by Defence Service events were held in Canberra. The day acknowledges all serving and ex-serving women, and widows of partners who made the ultimate sacrifice for the nation, women who have lost a loved one through service, or who care for a returned veteran who is wounded, injured or ill.

ESO News

New president seeks to unify the RSL

A profile of Greg Melick, the RSL's new National President.

Being a Legatee creates lasting rewards

By becoming a Legatee, you will become part of Legacy's proud traditions and actively live its values.

Digger Day a success

A look back at the Digger Day event that was held in the Shoalhaven and organised under the Keith Payne VC Veterans Benefit Group.

Physically well

Keeping a healthy heart

DVA's Heart Health program helps you to increase your physical health and wellbeing through practical exercise, nutrition and lifestyle management support.

Heart Health group maintains the links

A group of veterans that meets twice a week in Cleveland, Queensland might not be solving the world's problems, but its members do address their own health issues and get a lot else from their outings.

Trials and triumph at Warrior Games

The Warrior Games in Tampa Bay, Florida brought trials and triumph, with powerful stories coming from the camaraderie and acts of unity throughout the Games.

Kate's tree change brings natural peace

Veteran Kate Rose says anyone planning to enlist in the services must begin planning their exit strategy from day one.

Veterans pushing the boundaries

Natasha Passmore has heard some incredible stories of veterans challenging themselves during her work with the Department of Defence's specialised program for transitioning Australian Defence Force members with complex medical issues.

Gardens great for soul, and body

DVA has more than 20 staff who manage the planting, pruning and landscaping of the gardens in our 72 war cemeteries and plots and 10 gardens of remembrance around Australia.


Making all the difference

Aussie Hero Quilts has made 11,000 personalised quilts and 22,000 laundry bags for serving Australian Defence Force personnel since its chief executive officer, Jan-Maree Ball, founded the organisation in 2012.

Quilt connects families across the Pacific

David Donnan, who celebrated his 100th birthday on 25 June this year, was one of three sons from a Brisbane family who served during the Second World War. His story embodies lives of service, tragedy and loss, and the re-establishment of lost links.

Proper recognition for Top End fighter wing

A Northern Territory historian has allayed concerns that a joint RAAF-RAF fighter unit's service in Australia's Top End might have been overlooked.

REDSIX app issues a quick call for help

Veteran Michael Handley has developed an app that allows distressed veterans to quickly call a mate, or DVA's Open Arms when things get really bad.

Veteran remembers BCOF service in Japan

A profile of 94-year-old Ron Shepheard who, in 1946, was sent to Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force.

Brendan finds new ways to give back

A profile of veteran Brendan Hardman who works as a relationships officer at Adelaide's Hospital Research Foundation, which funds research that will save lives and improve patient care for the South Australian community.

DSHI praises Townsville veterans

Defence Services Homes Insurance staff have paid tribute to the resilience of veterans affected by February's extreme weather event which resulted in severe flooding and significant damage to homes in Townsville.

Cliff finds life support in music

Music has been one of the constants for former RAAF life-support fitter Cliff 'Smiley' Wiseman, both during his Air Force career and since.

How guitars can aid recovery

A former soldier says a new initiative is helping former Australian Defence Force members experiencing the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder to express themselves through the power of music.

Just a missing penny?

The opening of the Bomber Command Memorial in London, was a standout among the many commemorative ceremonies former DVA Chief Medical Officer Dr Graeme Killer AO has attended.

Off the shelf

  • Honourable Exit: How a few brave Americans risked all to save their Vietnamese allies at the end of the War
  • Madame Fourcade's Secret: The daring young woman who led France's largest spy network against Hitler
  • Unconquered: Our wounded warriors


D-Day 75 years on

Three Last Post ceremonies at the Australian War Memorial in June were at the centre of Australian commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

50th anniversary of Battle of Binh Ba

Vietnam veterans marked the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Binh Ba on 6 June.

Eighty years since start of Second World War

The Second World War brought a foreign threat to Australia for the first time. Almost a million Australian men and women served in the War. They fought against Germany and Italy in Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa, as well as against Japan in south-east Asia and the Pacific.

Operation CATALYST 10th anniversary

This 31 July marked 10 years since the end of Operation CATALYST in Iraq. Its purpose was to help stabilise the country following the end of major combat operations, as well as to assist with national recovery and the transition to self-government.

Cowra Breakout commemorated

As reported in the Winter issue of Vetaffairs, Cowra held 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.

Australian War Memorial

Items for sale

  • Where soldiers lie: the quest to find Australia's missing war dead (book)
  • Flanders Poppy botanical print tea towel
  • Ceramic mugs featuring the emblems of either the Navy, Army or RAAF

The Courage For Peace exhibition

On 17 October, the Australian War Memorial will open a new exhibition, The Courage for Peace. It focuses on Australian peacemakers, peacekeepers, disaster-relief workers and capacity builders, showing how they contribute to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region and across the globe.

Vetaffairs Noticeboard

Reunion notices

Medals — lost and found


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