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ESO News: Younger veterans share views with DVA

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Talissa Papamau

Talissa Papamau is a member of the Younger Veterans – Contemporary Needs Forum.

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.

Ms Papamau is among the members of DVA’s Younger Veterans – Contemporary Needs Forum, a committee that meets three times a year as part of DVA’s program of consultation with the ex-service community.

She said the forum provided a great opportunity to discuss veterans’ concerns with department staff, who could take questions on notice and come back with updates.

‘We’re able to raise emerging issues that we’re experiencing within our organisations at the coalface,’ Ms Papamau said.

‘That’s fantastic, and of course there’s a lot of work that the department’s doing so it’s a good opportunity to hear about those things as well.’

Ms Papamau said that, for example, at the last forum in March, attendees raised concerns that veterans who have medically discharged have only a two-year window to apply for the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme.

‘Often people aren’t in a position at that point in time to apply for it,’ she said.

Ms Papamau attends the forum in her capacity as founder of Modern Soldier, a Facebook community dedicated to contemporary veteran affairs, and its parent organisation, the Remembrance Foundation.

She took the opportunity in March to update forum members on a project that is close to her heart as a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder.

‘I was very privileged to talk about a Remembrance Foundation initiative that I’d been working on with VVCS [the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service], the department and Phoenix Australia looking at a research process around mental health delivery,’ Ms Papamau said.

‘I’d encourage anyone with a passion or something that they want to put forward to work with the department in that way.’

Ms Papamau said DVA and VVCS were continuing to work with her on options for mental health programs directly informed by the work she’d described.

‘This is probably one of the more recent times that a veteran with lived experience has worked so closely with development of service delivery,’ she said.

Other members of the Forum include representatives of the Australian Peacekeepers and Peacemakers Veterans Association, the Australian Special Air Service Association, the Australian Veterans Alliance, the Air Force Association, the Royal Australian Regiment Corporation, the Returned and Services League, the Naval Association of Australia, Mates4Mates, Soldier On, The Warrior’s Return, Defence Families of Australia and Legacy Australia. The Forum’s Chair is Repatriation Commissioner Major-General Mark Kelly AO, DSC.

The next Forum will be held on 25 July 2018.

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