DVA and Defence engagement

Don Spinks AM
Repatriation Commissioner

Middle aged man sitting in chair, posing for camera

DVA and the Department of Defence are working closer together than ever before.

My role includes engaging with Defence on a regular basis to ensure we are working in tandem to support you and anticipate any problems before they arise.

Some veterans I meet tell me about the experience they had when they left the Australian Defence Force (ADF) many years ago and how the transition process fell well short of what it should have been.

Please be assured that a lot has changed for the better in recent times and that DVA and Defence continue to be very focused on making further improvements.

There is now a comprehensive range of services and support – available from both DVA and Defence – to help make the transition from military to civilian life easier for veterans and families.

The great thing about these services and support is that they are complementary and holistic.

As a result of the relationship that has been built between DVA and Defence, DVA is now engaging earlier with ADF members. DVA also has Veteran Support Officers embedded on 56 bases around the country and Defence and members are making the department aware of important information so we can identify early the specific support needs of individuals.

Through the available transition programs, Defence and DVA are assisting ADF members in the areas of health and wellbeing, employment, education and training, transport, accommodation, finances and social connectivity.

A Joint Transition Authority (JTA) has also been established within Defence. Working in partnership with DVA and the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation, its purpose is to better prepare and support ADF members and families as they transition from military to civilian life.

The JTA reviews the transition journey, identifying opportunities for improvement, such as:

  • removing duplication
  • addressing gaps in services
  • integrating existing services, and
  • influencing new services as they are developed.

If you are thinking of leaving the ADF in the short- to medium-term, my advice to you is to start preparing now. Just like anything in life the more you prepare, the smoother things will go.

Planning Ahead Kit

It’s a hard topic to raise but I know many older veterans think about the impact their death could have on their loved ones.

For all veterans and families, DVA has released a booklet titled Planning Ahead – a guide to putting your affairs in order.

The purpose of the booklet is to help you get your personal affairs in order and to provide information on the services available for family and friends after your death. The guide has been written for members of the veteran and Defence communities and their families. It also contains information that will be useful to their carers and the people who act on their behalf or who help and advise them.

Losing a family member is a distressing and difficult time but by ensuring that your personal affairs are in order, you can make it easier for your families and loved ones in their time of grief. Read more about the kit and how you can access it in this edition.

Anzac Day

As we approach Anzac Day, I encourage veterans to join local commemorative services and marches across the nation. It is always good to see old mates and stand side-byside to remember the service you and so many others have given to this country. Find out where local services will be held by getting in touch with your local RSL subbranch or visiting their websites.

This year, 25 April marks 108 years since the first ANZAC troops landed at Gallipoli. I am honoured to be participating in ceremonies delivered by the Australian and New Zealand governments at Gallipoli in Türkiye, including as Master of Ceremonies of the Dawn Service and the Lone Pine Service.

Wherever you are and whatever you do for Anzac Day this year, be sure to take a moment to pay tribute to all those who have served our nation in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations and the more than 103,000 men and women who have given their lives.

Lest we forget. 

Aboriginal woman standing next to white middle-aged man, both wearing medals

Photo caption: Repatriation Commissioner Don Spinks AM and the Australian Army’s Indigenous Elder Aunty Lorraine Hatton OAM at the Bombing of Darwin Commemorative Service on 19 February 2023