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Indigenous Veterans' Strategy

DVA provides services and programs under the strategy, to improve its service delivery to the Indigenous veteran community and improve the cultural knowledge of DVA staff.

Through the Indigenous Veterans' Strategy, DVA identifies Indigenous veterans and their dependants to ensure they know of and can access DVA services and benefits. The strategy also raises awareness about their contribution to the nation by commemorating their war service.

DVA developed the strategy with an understanding of the cultural impediments that may prevent Indigenous veterans from accessing their DVA entitlements, and with knowledge of the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

In 2016–17, DVA continued to provide services and programs under the strategy, to improve its service delivery to the Indigenous veteran community and improve the cultural knowledge of DVA staff.

Community-related activities during the year included:

  • supporting the Indigenous Veterans' Liaison Officer (IVLO) network, which provides appropriate support services to Indigenous veterans
  • supporting Indigenous-specific commemorations held around Australia during National
    Reconciliation Week
  • promoting DVA benefits and entitlements throughout Indigenous communities via community organisations such as local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical services and local elders groups and community-based corporations
  • strengthening partnerships with key government stakeholders such as the Australian Defence Force (ADF), Australian War Memorial and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • developing Indigenous-specific postcards promoting DVA benefits and entitlements for distribution via the IVLO network, broader Indigenous networks and community events
  • attending the International Indigenous Health Conference held in Cairns in December 2016 to promote DVA benefits and entitlements throughout the national Indigenous health services community.

Activities within the Department included:

  • delivering cultural awareness training for DVA staff nationally
  • launching a new DVA Reconciliation Action Plan in Canberra on 25 May 2017 during National Reconciliation Week
  • providing continued support for participation in the APS Indigenous Graduate Program
  • the Secretary's participation in the APS–Jawun Indigenous Community Secondment Program.

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Research project

DVA is a major partner in a jointly funded research project led by Professor Mick Dodson and Professor Ann McGrath at the Australian National University, Serving Our Country: a history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the defence of Australia.

The four-year project, launched in March 2014, aims to identify and record the stories of Indigenous veterans. As one of the project partners, DVA is contributing $400,000 in financial support as well as up to $100,000 worth of in-kind support.

In 2016–17, the research team continued to conduct a number of state and territory community meetings and yarning circles inviting Indigenous veterans and their families to share and record their stories. The research project will be completed in late 2017 and will report on its outcomes and publications.

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Indigenous Veterans Roundtable

On 24 March 2017, DVA held its first Indigenous Veterans Roundtable. Participants included representatives from a variety of Indigenous community groups, including the Aboriginal Advancement League, the Defence Force Welfare Association, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans and Services Association and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dedicated Memorial Committee Queensland. The roundtable, held in Canberra, discussed and identified solutions to the issues and concerns raised by Indigenous communities about the challenges and difficulties many face in engaging with DVA.

Participants shared their personal stories and experiences interacting with DVA, and reflected on the
key issues that were important and would make a difference for Indigenous serving and ex-serving ADF members.

Following the Indigenous Veterans Roundtable, DVA continues to engage with Indigenous veterans and their dependants to co-design solutions to service delivery needs and preferences that reflect Indigenous diversity.

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Ceremonies

In 2016–17, DVA continued its support for national and international ceremonies to honour the service and sacrifice of all veterans, including the contributions made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicemen and servicewomen in wars, conflicts and peacetime operations.

The Department continued to support Indigenous-specific commemorative events during National Reconciliation Week, which included:

  • the Western Australian Indigenous Veterans Ceremony in Perth
  • the Victorian Aboriginal Remembrance Service in Melbourne at the Shrine of Remembrance
  • the NSW Indigenous Veterans Ceremony in Sydney at the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park
  • the Queensland Indigenous Veterans Ceremony in Brisbane at the Shrine of Remembrance.

DVA continued to support and attend internal and external community events to celebrate NAIDOC Week.

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