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Vol 35 No.1 Autumn 2019

Welcome to the Autumn edition of Vetaffairs

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

Download a printable PDF version of Vetaffairs (4.50 MB). Listen to the audio version (MP3 88.33 MB), noting the large file size. Email to receive future issues on CD, to request an email alert when Vetaffairs is published online, or to subscribe to DVA e-news.


Ceremony honours veterans, families and their employers

Read about the achievements of the finalists in this year’s Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards.

Greater recognition for veterans and their families

New legislation, the Australian Veterans’ Recognition (Putting Veterans and their Families First) Bill 2019, has been introduced to establish an Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant. As part of a wider recognition package, a card and lapel pin will be provided to veterans.

News from the Department

The Secretary sees 2019 as a ‘year of opportunity’. She discusses the recent Productivity Commission draft report into Aus­tralia’s system of compensation and rehabilitation for veterans, DVA’s online platform MyService, Anzac Day commemorations, DVA’s Transformation journey and the department’s plans for the year.

New appointments for the Department

The department welcomes new senior staff – Charles McHardie AM, Dr Jenny Firman and Don Spinks.

News from the Minister

The Minister discusses cementing the Government’s commitment to veterans. He covers the Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant, the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards, the Supporting Younger Veterans grants program, enhancements to MyService, the Productivity Commission’s draft report of its inquiry into the system of compensation and rehabilitation for veterans, and more.

And the winners are …

This year’s Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards took place at Australian Parliament House on 5 March 2019. Read about the winners in the nine categories.

Veterans’ pensions and allowances rise

Veterans’ pensions were increased on 20 March 2019 following the latest round of indexation adjustments.

Letters to the Editor

Care packages for troops and the unveiling of a plaque.

Ageing Well

Heat stress and hip fractures – conditions that can affect veterans

In his final column, Professor Ian Gardner, DVA’s Chief Health Officer and Principal Medial Adviser discusses heat stress among the ageing, in-home dialysis and hip fractures.

Major improvements to RAP

DVA is improving its longstanding Rehabilitation Appliance Program (RAP) following a recent review.

Diabetes organisation membership

DVA is funding membership of state and territory diabetes organisations for eligible clients living with diabetes, enabling them to get local support, education, information and a range of other member benefits.

Being online can open a world of possibilities

‘Be Connected’ is a free Australian Government program aimed at increasing the confidence, skills and online safety of older Australians in using digital technology.

Practical help for living independently

Veterans’ Home Care (VHC) assists eligible DVA clients who need a small amount of practical help to continue living independently in their own home.

Mishearing speech could be a sign of hearing loss

DVA provides hearing devices for eligible veterans at no cost. DVA clients can gain access to more than 160 fully subsidised hearing devices to help improve hearing in a variety of situations.

Supporting orthotists

Orthotists are health professionals who help restore function when a person has a physical impairment resulting from an illness or disability, including limb amputations. DVA is working with orthotists to better understand the work they can do for our veterans.

Are you ageing well?

Phoenix Australia, in conjunction with the University of Melbourne, is seeking ex-serving Australian Defence Force members aged between 60 and 75 to help with its research into veterans and ageing. Participants will be asked to complete a 30–40 minute anonymous questionnaire about ageing.

Health & wellbeing

Is anxiety knocking?

Dr Loretta Poerio, DVA’s Mental Health Adviser, discusses anxiety, its symptoms and treatment. She suggests a range of strategies and online resources.

Evidence-based group programs part of treatment

Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling (formerly VVCS) offers a variety of free evidence-based group treatment programs and educational workshops. Topics range from addressing trauma, to building better relationships with loved ones, new parenting skills and relaxation.

Veterans’ Health Week 2019

Veterans’ Health Week will be held from Saturday, 26 October to Sunday, 3 November 2019. This year’s theme is Mental Wellness.

Portion sizes key to healthy living

Tara Diversi APD, DVA National Dietetics Adviser, gives advice on portion sizes and provides two healthy recipes.

App tool for families

High Res features interactive, easy-to-use tools that you can gain access to on the go such as Controlled Breathing, Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Thought Stopping.

At Ease focuses on ADF’s unsung heroes – families

Strong families are essential to the health and wellbeing of Australian Defence Force members and veterans, which is why At Ease has launched a dedicated Families section of its website.


United by Defence Service

A new council for women and families is set to provide direct policy advice to the Australian Government. Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester launched the Council for Women and Families United by Defence Service on 14 December 2018.

2018 Annual General Meeting and Conference

The National War Widows’ Guild Annual General Meeting and Conference were held on Tuesday, 13 November 2018.

68th Anzac Field of Remembrance Memorial Service – NSW

The War Widows’ Guild of Australia NSW cordially invites members and guests to join the annual service for all war widows, children, grandchildren, family and friends to recognise the losses and sacrifices of war widows.

Any centuries coming up?

Vetaffairs is looking for stories of men and women who have served, who will be turning 100 in 2019. We would like to feature these centenarians and share their stories on DVA social media channels.

Busy 2018 for Legacy

Legacy assists families who have lost a parent or spouse. They provide education grants and summer camps for juniors. They also sell Legacy Christmas puddings to raise money to support families.

Battle of Gemas Day 2019 Commemorations

The 2/30 Battalion AIF Association held a Gemas Day commemoration at the parade ground of the 2/17th Bn RNSWR in Sydney on 13 January 2019 to mark the 77th anniversary of the Battle of Gemas in Malaya during the Second World War.


‘Makan’ is the official newsletter of the 2/30 Bn. AIF Association. Named after the Malay word for ‘eat’, the journal covers an interesting range of topics.

Honouring Women United by Defence Service 2019

Following the success of the inaugural Honouring Women United by Defence Service (HWUDS) event in Canberra last September, the HWUDS committee is thrilled to announce the second HWUDS event will take place in Canberra on Wednesday, 14 August 2019.


Veterans’ Recognition Package

Information on how to apply for the Veteran Card, details of the Lapel Pins and some Q&As.

Appointment brings unique perspective

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester has announced the appointment of Ms Gwen Cherne to the Council of the Australian War Memorial.

Roll-out of the community and peer program

Following the success of a two-year Community and Peer Pilot in Townsville, Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling will now roll out their Community and Peer Program across Australia.

Diggers in Malaya: A different perspective

Mr D Robertson Paul shares his recollections of time spent with the soldiers of 2/19th Infantry Battalion when they were stationed in his home town of Seremban, Malaya during the Second World War.

Off the shelf

A Guide to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission; The Last 100 Days – The Australian Road to Victory in the First World War; For Valour.

From test pilot to healthcare innovator

Dr Robyn Clay-Williams is one of the first two female pilots to have graduated from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) flying school.

On our screens

A Private War (film); Age of Tanks (Netflix documentary); Das Boot (drama series)

Report sheds new light on veterans’ health

A profile of Australia’s veterans 2018, released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) in partnership with DVA, explores and reports on the current status and future needs of veterans and their families.

Insurance: What is it?

Read about risks, premiums and claims in regard to insurance.

Census could provide answers on veteran numbers

The Australian Bureau of Statistics is considering including a question in the 2021 census that would provide information about how many veterans there are in Australia and where they live.

Land and sea: Navy veteran long-time landscape artist

Navy veteran Mal Gilmour of Inglewood in Victoria is a self-taught artist who hosted his first major exhibition in 1969, just over a year after transitioning out of the Navy. His art focuses on Australian landscapes, which he says stems from his childhood.

Working smoke alarms save lives

Smoke alarms are legally required for most residences in Australia.

Commando Comics

Commando is Britain’s longest-running war comic, publishing stories of action and adventure since 1961. With more than 5,000 issues, the digest-sized issues tell adventure stories inspired by real events in military history.

Over the top

In 1916 France, Britain and Germany began producing and using steel helmets to give more protection to their troops. As the war went on, these helmets became symbols of identity for the combatants.

The ‘Anzac tile’

A staple in the soldiers’ rations was the infamous ‘hardtack’ biscuit. Known as the ‘Anzac Tile’ or the ‘Anzac Wafer’, these square baked biscuits were made out of wholemeal flour and had an extremely long shelf life.

Transforming DVA

Expanded online services for veterans and their families

DVA’s claiming portal, MyService, is continuing to expand the number of DVA services available online for veterans and their families.

Indigenous veterans provide valuable insight

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander veterans, family members and community leaders took part in DVA’s second Indigenous Veterans Forum in November 2018. The forum provided DVA with valuable insights into the unique experiences of Indigenous veterans.

Partnering with government to better connect with veterans

By partnering with the Department of Human Services (DHS), DVA is using established DHS networks to deliver services to veterans and their families in regional and rural locations across Australia.

Client Satisfaction Survey 2019

DVA will be undertaking the Client Satisfaction Survey from June this year. With its ongoing commitment to the Veteran Centric Reform program, DVA will now be asking for feedback from clients through the Client Satisfaction Survey every year.


Refurbished Hellfire Pass centre re-opens

The refurbished Hellfire Pass Interpretive Centre, originally built and funded by the Australian Government in collaboration with the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand, re-opened in Kanchanaburi, Thailand on 12 December 2018.

Service nurses saluted in Anzac Day poster

Every year DVA commemorates Anzac Day by producing and distributing educational community materials, including books, flyers and a poster. This year’s poster is in recognition of Australian service nurses.

New Director of the Office of Australian War Graves

Brigadier Paul Nothard AM CSC has been appointed the new Director of the Office of Australian War Graves.

Register now for Anzac Day overseas commemorations

Each Anzac Day, the Australian Government holds a commemorative Dawn Service at Gallipoli, Turkey and near Villers-Bretonneux, France. For those looking to attend the services in 2019, please apply for an attendance pass. Members of the public are encouraged to register early.

Unmarked First World War Graves to be commemorated

A number of unmarked graves of First World War veterans who died after returning from the war will be commemorated under a two-year pilot program.

Australian War Memorial

More space to allow AWM to tell new stories

An update on the new major redevelopment of the Memorial.

Daphne Dunne at launch of Victoria Cross book

98-year-old war widow Daphne Dunne attended the launch of For Valour: Australians awarded the Victoria Cross.

Tributes for wordsmith

Tribute for Les Carlyon, editor, journalist, historian and author, who died on 4 March 2019.

Items for sale

The Memorial poppy brooch (small); Honour their spirit (Music CD); For Country, for Nation: an illustrated history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander military service (book).

Vetaffairs Noticeboard

Reunion notices

Medals – lost and found


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