News from the Department
Liz Cosson AM CSC
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
2021 — A year in review
As we approach the end of another year that has tested our resilience, our patience and our ability to adapt to ever-changing conditions and requirements, I think it is important to pause and acknowledge the size of the challenges and hardships we have faced.
For those who have struggled with the isolation of lockdown, you are not alone. The conditions under which we have lived this year, have tested us all. I want any of our veterans and any of their family members who have felt the stress of these conditions to know that there is support available for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We may feel the toll of this global pandemic for many years to come and safeguarding our health and wellbeing, and supporting those who need help the most, is our utmost priority.
Not only should we be caring for our own wellbeing, but let’s ensure we all reach out and check on our friends and family. We may not know the toll this year has had on them until we ask.
This year the Defence and veteran communities have continued to witness the impact of the findings and the response to the Inspector-General of the ADF Afghanistan Inquiry, as well as the withdrawal from Afghanistan. I know watching the footage since the withdrawal has been difficult, I have found it confronting myself. It is important at times like these, to remember the contribution and the real difference our serving members and veterans have made on the ground during conflicts such as Afghanistan and be proud of them for their remarkable service to our country.
We have also seen the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran suicide commence hearings in November and December and we will see these continuing in the new year. This Royal Commission is an opportunity for our veteran community to come together to be part of the process to find solutions to help reduce the instances of these tragedies in our community. It may be very difficult for some of you to share your stories, but if you can, I strongly encourage you to make a submission and be involved in this critical process.
Throughout the changing requirements of 2021, our department has had to be fast and innovative to maintain our services and support for veterans and their families and to mark significant dates of commemoration.
It’s quite incredible how we’ve been able to utilise the virtual world to ensure we still marked important national events such as Anzac Day and to hold commemorative ceremonies for significant anniversaries such as the 50th Anniversary of Operation Overlord, including the Battle of Long Khanh, and the 50th anniversary of Operation Ivanhoe and the Battle of Nui Le in the Vietnam War.
I was also honoured once again to be able to attend our national commemoration service at the Australian War Memorial on Remembrance Day this year. I continue to be struck by the significance of the day not only to veterans and their families but to all Australians.
Finally, as we head into the holiday period, I’d like to thank the veteran community, ex-service organisations and the staff of DVA for their tireless efforts to support our veterans and their families, particularly under very challenging circumstances this year. The way our entire community continues to band together for the greater good of our serving and ex-serving members and their families continues to motivate and inspire me.
Wishing you all a very safe and peaceful holiday season and all the very best for a wonderful and prosperous 2022.
“What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy. “Help,” said the horse.
— The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
DVA Secretary Liz Cosson AM CSC and Repatriation Commissioner Don Spinks AM on Remembrance Day 2021