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Vol 34 No.2 Winter 2018

Welcome to the Winter edition of Vetaffairs

Vetaffairs cover image showing several stories.The Winter 2018 issue of Vetaffairs is now available via the links below. Highlights include:

Download a printable PDF version of Vetaffairs (17.5 MB). Listen to the audio version (MP3 103 KB), noting the large file size. Email vetaffairs@dva.gov.au to receive future issues on CD, to request an email alert when Vetaffairs is published online, or to subscribe to DVA e-news.

Share your story

Where has life taken you since you left the Navy, Army, or Air Force? We’re keen to share inspiring stories about veterans’ post-service lives with the readers of Vetaffairs and through DVA’s social media channels. Email us at vetaffairs@dva.gov.au.

News

Veteran takes reins at DVA

Retired major-general Liz Cosson took the helm as the first woman Secretary of DVA on 19 May 2018 following the retirement of Simon Lewis PSM, who had served as Secretary since 2013.

‘Being the best we can be’

The new Secretary of DVA is a veteran. She is also the great granddaughter, granddaughter, niece, daughter, sister and wife of a veteran, and Liz Cosson says she knew soon after joining DVA as First Assistant Secretary, Client and Commemorations in 2010 that she’d found her new calling. ‘It was very early in this role I recognised the incredible work we do to support our veteran community and felt this was an extension of my military service,’ she said.

Unconquered: Our Invictus team

Seventy-two current and former serving Australian Defence Force members will represent Australia at Invictus Games Sydney 2018 from 20 to 27 October (includes full team list and details of DVA forums tying in with the Games.)

Celebrating the Invictus spirit

The huge smile on Ben Farinazzo’s face said it all. The Soldier On ambassador and former Australian Army officer had made the Australian team for this year’s Invictus Games, and he couldn’t be happier.

2018–19 Budget delivers for veterans and their families

On 8 May 2018, the Turnbull Government announced $100 million in additional funding for veterans and their families in the 2018–19 Budget (on top of the ongoing funding of $11.2 billion). The announcement came a week after the new Veteran Payment and additional services and support for families came online, on 1 May, and a few weeks before two other major DVA initiatives came into effect.

Interim payment now available

A new interim income support measure, the Veteran Payment, is now available to veterans who cannot work and are experiencing financial pressures while awaiting liability decisions on mental health.

Better support for families

Families of veterans can access increased support through DVA. This acknowledges their vital role in the health and rehabilitation of veterans.

Department’s online services soon to be available to veterans, families via myGov

Veterans and their families will soon be able to access DVA online services using one login and password at the Australian Government’s myGov website (my.gov.au).

Education Allowance claims now also online

Families and students receiving support through DVA’s Education Schemes will soon be able to submit claims and lodge supporting documents for Education Allowance via MyService, the department’s improved online channel.

Treatment for twenty conditions available while claim considered

As part of a new trial, DVA will pay for medical treatment for 20 common conditions while the claim for the condition is being processed. This means that eligible claimants will not have to wait until DVA has made a determination before receiving treatment.

White Cards for all eligible personnel exiting ADF

From mid-2018, eligible personnel transitioning from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) will automatically receive a White Card to access mental health treatment without having to submit a claim.

Purpose-raised puppies key to assistance dogs trial

DVA has engaged La Trobe University, in partnership with the Centre for Service and Therapy Dogs Australia, to undertake a trial of assistance dogs for veterans with PTSD as a supplement to clinical treatment.

Sir John Monash Centre opens to rave reviews

More than 7,500 people visited the Sir John Monash Centre in France during its first month of operation. The feedback they provided about the experience has been overwhelmingly positive.

Making DVA’s website more user-friendly

From mid-July 2018, veterans and their families will be able to provide feedback on a test (or beta) version of a more client-focused and responsive DVA website.

Client Satisfaction Survey underway

DVA is conducting its next Client Satisfaction Survey between June and August in 2018. The department is seeking through the survey to understand how clients feel about their interactions with DVA, and how it can better manage these interactions in the future.

New Chief Operating Officer appointed

Mark Cormack joined DVA as Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Secretary on 31 May 2018.

Indexation of rates 1 July 2018

From 1 July 2018, the Income Free Areas and Assets Value Limits used to calculate rates of income support pensions will rise.

Letters to the editor

3RAR at Coral and Balmoral; Recognise all service; Thank you, DVA.

From the Minister: Driving real change at DVA

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester talks about the game-changing initiatives currently rolling out during a busy period for DVA, and the recent visit to Parliament of Tassie and Tash, two very special dogs who helped him to announce the department’s trial of assistance dogs for veterans with PTSD.

News from the department

Former DVA Secretary Simon Lewis reflects on his five years at DVA, and the role of the department and its staff in fulfilling the nation’s promise to honour and look after veterans in recognition of their service.

Reviews into DVA

Parliamentary inquiry into transition from the ADF

A new Parliamentary inquiry will examine the support provided to members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as they transition from active service to civilian life.

Productivity Commission review into DVA

The Productivity Commission is conducting an independent inquiry into whether the compensation and rehabilitation system currently available for veterans in Australia is fit for purpose now, and whether the system is likely to effectively and efficiently support veterans and their families in the future.

Submissions sought for advocacy and support study

An independent study is investigating how veterans and their families are assisted to access entitlements and services.

Audit Office to report on department

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has undertaken a performance audit to assess whether DVA is efficiently delivering services to veterans and their dependants.

Health

Health Cards go digital

All MyService clients now have access to digital versions of their White Card and Gold Card for their accepted conditions.

No cap on funds for medical treatment

In his regular column, Chief Health Officer and Principal Medical Adviser Ian Gardner writes that many veterans are under the misapprehension that if they spend additional money on their Gold Card for their necessary medical treatment, then other DVA clients may be missing out. Although this is understandable, it’s completely untrue, he explains.

Lost your mojo? It’s got to be here somewhere...

In small doses, a doona day may restore the spirits, but if it leads to more and more isolation from others and, as a consequence, your connection to the outside world becoming smaller, then it may be time to rethink your coping strategy. Mental Health Adviser Loretta Poerio provides some advice and resources to help.

Myth Busters: Is it too late to submit a claim for an old injury?

Many veterans with service-related injuries sustained years ago believe they are not entitled to submit claims as they assume it is too late. This is not the case. There is no time limit on the lodgment of claims with DVA to have your injury or illness accepted as related to your service.

Six cities added to PTSD trial

A trial treatment program for veterans with service-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms already operating in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne is expanding to six other cities and is seeking participants.

VVCS webinar to focus on anger issues

The next Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) community mental health webinar, on Wednesday 25 July, 12–1pm AEST, will focus on Anger Issues – Gaining back control.

Liaison officers ease stress of hospital-stays

For war widow Denise Legge, a recent stay at a private hospital in Canberra was a good experience thanks largely to the assistance she received from the on-site Veteran Liaison Officer (VLO).

Health research findings to guide program improvements

The first reports of the joint DVA and Department of Defence-funded Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme strengthen the evidence base for existing DVA programs and will inform improvements to them, according to Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester.

Countdown to 2018 Veterans’ Health Week

From 22 to 30 September 2018, DVA, ex-service organisations and community groups will come together during Veterans’ Health Week to highlight the importance of having a healthy lifestyle, which can help us to stay connected to others and live a happier and longer life.

Changes to process for allied health referrals

The way that GPs refer DVA cardholders to allied health professionals is set to change from July 2019 following adjustments foreshadowed in the May 2018–19 Budget.

Review underway at DVA into rehabilitation appliance services

DVA is conducting a comprehensive review of its rehabilitation appliance services, particularly the Rehabilitation Appliances Program (RAP), to ensure these services continue to be appropriate, effective and efficient in meeting the veteran community’s needs.

ESO News

Younger veterans share views with DVA

Former Army combat medic Talissa Papamau is one of many recently-transitioned veterans helping DVA to transform itself to better meet the needs of younger ex-service men and women and their families.

By the Left campaign unites community

Thousands of current and ex-serving women around Australia marched together on Anzac Day to help broaden the public’s perception of what a veteran looks like.

Mateship vital for survivor of Tobruk

One of the last surviving Rats of Tobruk, 98-year-old Bob Semple OAM BEM, still wakes at 5.30am each day and goes for a walk as often as he can.

Indigenous ceremony outgrows bush site

The annual Anzac Day Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commemoration on Mount Ainslie may move down the hill into the grounds of the Australian War Memorial (AWM) to accommodate increasing numbers of attendees.

Widows’ News

PM’s Veteran Employee of the Year to address event honouring women

The winner of the Prime Minister’s Veteran Employee of the Year Award 2018, Rachel Ranton, will give the keynote address at an event this September that will honour the service and sacrifice of women and families in the defence of our nation.

Families march on Anzac Day

Widows, wives, partners and children across Australia joined Anzac Day marches, with crowds cheering as they honoured the women and families who pay a heavy price for the service of their loved ones.

Commemorations

Surviving the sinking of the ‘Berkeley’

Second World War veteran Douglas Gilling will never forget the moment he left the sinking HMS Berkeley off the coast of Dieppe, France, on 19 August 1942. Mr Gilling, now 97, was supporting the raid as part of the guns crew of the Berkeley, a Royal Navy Hunt class destroyer, at around 12.50pm when it took a direct hit from a heavy bomb.

Gallantry at Coral and Balmoral recognised

The Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret’d), has approved the award of the Unit Citation for Gallantry to members of the 1st Australian Task Force (Forward) and associated units deployed to Area of Operations Surfers during the Battles of Coral and Balmoral half a century ago.

Honouring women who have served

Former Army surgeon Susan Neuhaus CSC used her address at the 2018 Anzac Day Dawn Service in Canberra to reflect on the service of women and younger members of the veteran community.

Anzac Day France 2018 honours Australian sacrifice

In a poignant speech during the Anzac Day dawn service at the Australian National Memorial near Villers-Bretonneux, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe highlighted the enduring relationship between Australia and France that was forged on the battlefields more than a century ago.

French president honours three

The President of France has personally thanked three Australian Second World War veterans during a ceremony in Sydney at which they were awarded the prestigious Legion of Honour for their service during the campaign to liberate France.

Marking 75 years since Hellfire Pass

A National Service will be held at the Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial in Ballarat, Victoria, on 16 October 2018 to commemorate Australian work on Hellfire Pass and completion of the Thai-Burma Railway.

65th Anniversary of Korean War Armistice

A National Service of Commemoration will be held on 27 July 2018 to mark the 65th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. The service will take place at the Australian National Korean War Memorial on Anzac Parade in Canberra.

Centenary of the Battle Of Hamel

A ceremony to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Hamel was held at the Australian Corps Memorial near the village of Le Hamel in France on 4 July 2018. The Memorial was constructed on the ridge that was the objective of the 93-minute battle, in which Australian and American forces served together for the first time.

Centenary of Armistice

At 11am on 11 November 2018, Australians will pause to mark 100 years since the signing of the First World War Armistice. It will be the final significant commemorative occasion of the Centenary of Anzac period.

Features

A song for our veterans that changed the nation

When singer-songwriter John Schumann sat down to write ‘I was only 19’ he never dreamt the song would be the subject of an exhibition at the Australian War Memorial more than three decades later.

Last call for entries for veterans’ art prize

Entries for the first ever national art prize for current and former servicemen and women, the Napier Waller Prize, close on Wednesday 11 July 2018.

‘For Country, for Nation’ exhibition on the road

An Australian War Memorial exhibition honouring the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the Australian Defence Force will tour Australia over the next three years.

Memorial acquires RF-111C aircraft

A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F-111 aircraft currently at the South Australian Aviation Museum will be transferred to the Australian War Memorial’s collection.

On our screens

Films/television programs reviewed this edition: Last flag flying; Monash and Me; Mateship.

Off the shelf

Books reviewed this edition: Serving our Country: Indigenous Australians, war, defence and citizenship; An Australian Band of Brothers: Don Company, Second 43rd Battalion, 9th Division; Repat: A concise history of repatriation in Australia

Working smoke alarms save lives

As the nights get colder, we need to stay warmer and unfortunately with this comes an increased danger of fires from heaters, fireplaces, cooking of hearty food, and electric blankets.

Items for sale from the Australian War Memorial Shop

Memorial car poppy; Heroes of Hamel; Anzacs on the Western Front; Kokoda: The spirit lives.

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