Attention Very Important Information on CDF proposal to Strip Medals from Afghanistan Veterans:
Attention All ESO’s
I write with a heavy heart to inform you that CDF General Campbell has decided to recommend the removal of DSC’s from seven outstanding SF officers who fought with their men on rotations courageously in the Afghanistan war. These awards belong not just to the Squadron or Rotation Commanders but to the soldiers who did the fighting, and their families who waited at home. This follows the egregious treatment, including constructive dismissal from service , of a large number of enlisted soldiers, corporals and sergeants on the basis of a relative handful of yet to be substantiated allegations about possible illegal acts in theatre. Many of the mistreated soldiers were accused of nothing and were not involved in anything other than the fighting, apparently guilty by association.
My view is that the entire SASR, soldiers officers, the accusers and the accused were over deployed, overused and caught up in a mismanaged war run by ministers and generals in Canberra, particularly Op Slipper Phase 3 from around 2006 to 20013. The aim for government was to reduce political risk and fight the war inexpensively. If we allow the ANZAC’s of today to be treated in this way by their governments and their generals it creates a dangerous precedent. I am particularly concerned for the families and loved ones of our veterans who suffer this lack of grace from Canberra in silence. No veteran should be made to feel ashamed of their service, least of all by the generals and governments which sent them to war.
The ASASA has written to CDF (letter above) but by his actions it is clear our advice has been ignored. As National Chairman of the ASASA I have sought meetings with Minister Marles who referred me elsewhere choosing not to meet, and with Minister Keogh. Meetings with the government have not occured. We will not be ignored, and as a consequence we will take our concerns to veterans and to the Australian people directly in a determined campaign of action. Our people deserve better.
This release below is right to be widely distributed to all veterans and their families through our networks so please push it out as you deem appropriate. SAS veterans and their families would be encouraged to know the broader ESO community are on their side, whatever their views on the details. The CDO Association Steve Pilmore and the RSL led by former SF officer Greg Melick have been magnificent in supporting us to the hilt.
Media release and letter below
Letter to CDF Jan 23 Copy 2.docx
The above has received extensive national media coverage today.
In truth, successive governments and the generals who advised them at the time mishandled this war, including the overuse of our people. The aftermath, particularly the Brereton inquiry and developments running before and out of it have been even more poorly mismanaged. The mishandling of matter generally by ministers and generals is clearly contributing to the ADF’s woeful retention and recruiting problems and will impact on mental health of veterans. The CDF’s action today is in our opinion likely to increase the risk of veteran suicide ideation. We treated our Vietnam veterans poorly on their return from war. This senior ADF leadership appears to have learnt nothing and is now treating our Afghanistan veteran just as badly.
Over time we will reset the national conversation on the achievements of the ADF in Afghanistan. I would be grateful if ESO leaders and members could reflect on this development and canvas their memberships view? Your organisations may wish to write to Minister Marles and Matt Keogh asking them to reject the CDF’s proposal. We might need to ask you to assist with a letter writing campaign to local MPs in the near future, if your ESO were keen to help? This information can go out to veterans and into newsletters if you wish.
Thank you for your support and fellowship. Better days for our people must surely be ahead. More to follow.
Hon Martin Hamilton-Smith
The Australian Special Air Service Association
PO Box 65 Stirling SA 5152
M: +61 (0) 408854707
The Winter Edition of Duty First:
The details of the ESORT being distributed far and wide without the ESORT Minutes being confirmed, and with much of what has been discussed either a discussion or WIP, being sent out to the broader veteran community is something that I have had major concerns with. Unfortunately, when it's in cyberspace many veterans read it and consider it policy when it is not. This has created considerable anxiety, anger, resentment, and in some cases, fear of losing perhaps an entitlement that is unhealthy. In particular where anyone with chronic PTSD, all of the aforementioned anxieties are triggers and not helping the situation.
The new Secretary Alison Frame has agreed with this concern and members of the ESORT will now receive an official ESORT communique, which is cleared by DVA and which can be distributed widely which in part are a part of the minutes posted on the DVA website. Many of the ESO and DVA have been attacked in the past when a snippet of some description is out there which is interpreted incorrectly as a policy which it is not, and hopefully, this communique is clear and accurate, and transparent.
Please distribute it widely and post it on our websites.
The Douglas decision and Treasury Laws Amendment Bill
Members were provided an update on recent action to inform ESORT members of the impacts of the
Douglas decision and Schedule 9 – Treasury Laws Amendment (2022 Measures No. 4) Bill 2022.
On 5 May 2023, DVA facilitated an information session for interested representatives from ESORT, the Younger
Veterans Contemporary Needs Forum and other organisations, from representatives of the Australian Taxation
Office (ATO), Treasury, Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation and the Department of Defence.
At the 5 May meeting, the ATO provided an update on the tax implications of the Douglas case to date,
and the ATO’s strategy for contacting affected veterans. Treasury advised of the progress of the Treasury
Laws Amendment (2022 Measures No. 4) Bill 2022, including Schedule 9, which introduces the Veterans
Superannuation Tax Offset.
DVA Veteran and Stakeholder Engagement Strategy
The Department has established the Stakeholder and Communications (SEC) Division. A primary objective
for SEC is to enhance engagement with veterans and other key stakeholders through delivery of a new
DVA Veteran and Stakeholder Strategy (the Strategy). This will be developed using best practice engagement
design and methods, including involvement of key stakeholders at critical points and providing greater
opportunity for ESORT members and the broader veteran community to shape and influence DVA priorities
and participate both formally and informally.
DVA invites ESORT members and other veterans who are interested in participating in the development of
the Strategy to email firstname.lastname@example.org. Discussions to inform the development of the Strategy will
commence in June 2023.
Advocacy Services Reform
DVA understands there is a strong interest in the reform of advocacy services. A working group chaired by the
DVA General Counsel and comprised of nominees from ESOs with appropriate experience and relevant subject
matter experts is being established to consider this issue.
The work will be informed by previous reviews and papers and will acknowledge the changing environment,
including commercial entrants into the marketplace, the emergence of some state-funded advocacy services,
the work of the Joint Transition Authority in Defence, the establishment of the Veterans’ and Families’ Hubs and
the consultations currently underway about a pathway for legislation reform.
Options for advocacy services reform, developed by the working group, will be discussed in detail at the next
meeting of the ESORT in October 2023.
Review of Administrative Appeals Tribunal
The Australian Government has announced a reform of Australia’s system of administrative review. This will abolish the
Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and establish a new federal administrative review body. The reform includes a
transparent, merit-based system of appointments. The new federal administrative review body will be designed to:
• be user focused with simpler, more accessible procedures
• provide support for vulnerable applicants
• be flexible to respond to changing needs
• provide effective and efficient case resolution.
The reform, which includes a transparent, merit-based system of appointments is intended to engender public trust
and confidence; and improves the overall quality of administrative decision-making in government.
This work is being led by the Attorney General’s Department and is being guided overseen by an expert advisory
group. Public and agency submissions into the review closed on 12 May 2023. Additional information will be
provided as it becomes available.
Further information on the Review of the AAT is available at:
DVA Modernisation Program Supporting Systems and
Claims Processing Improvements
The DVA Modernisation Program seeks to improve the experience for veterans, families and advocates interacting
with DVA and the efficiency of the claims administration service by addressing issues that inhibit the ICT ecosystem
from operating at its best.
This is an 18 month program of work that supports the immediate response to Recommendation 3 of the Interim
Report of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.
The immediate claims improvement projects will be delivered by June 2024. These include a pilot of the digital
veteran card in the myGov wallet and improvements within the system such as document upload, nudge
messaging; task notifications; and improved data sharing between DVA and Defence. Co-design sessions to inform
this work commenced in late April and will continue throughout 2023.
One component of the DVA Modernisation program is a partnership with the Behavioural Economics Team of the
Australian Government (BETA) in PM&C on simplification of medical forms for compensation. This project will assist
with the administration of the claims processing system and veterans’ services by making it simpler and easier for
medical practitioners to provide supporting medical reports for veterans. The partnership will deliver results by
30 June 2023.
This measure directly responds to Recommendations 2 of the Royal Commission “Enhancements to support
claims processing”, and it is recognised that the vast majority of claims in the backlog are incomplete and require
additional information in order for them to be determined.
Comments or feedback relating to medical forms project can be provided directly to email@example.com.
Improvements to DVA Claims Administration – tri-Act claims
The Department has completed a number of initiatives to improve the processing of complex claims. It now
provides information on the DVA website encouraging veterans with a tri-Act claim to speak with an accredited
advocate or DVA, to ensure the claim is complete and investigation ready.
The website information, including dual and tri-Act claims information, was developed in consultation with the
Multiâ€‘Act Claims Working Group, the Operational Working Party and ESORT.
This information can be found at:
What to expect after you have submitted a compensation claim | Department of Veterans’ Affairs (dva.gov.au)
Making a claim for a service-related condition | Department of Veterans’ Affairs (dva.gov.au)
Is now back in production after a three-year hiatus, have a free read Just Click on the below link:
50th Reunion 8/9 RAR Association 27 Oct - 01 Nov 2023 in Brisbane:
Here is a linking to ticketing options https://tickets.brisbanetickets.com.au/outlet/event/462081d3-e544-4e5c-8c36-774b651116c4?utm_source=Localtix&utm_medium=Website
From the Secretary of the RAR Association:
By Kirsten Webster
A legal service funded by the federal government has fielded more than 1,200 calls in a year from veterans and their families who want to be heard by the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide. Almost a quarter of the demand is coming from Queensland’s veteran community with 341 calls taken by the Defence and Legal Service in February. Likewise, 316 calls were made to the New South Wales service, 190 from Western Australia, and 140 calls were made in Victoria.
Brisbane-based veteran SiuPing Wong is one of the hundreds currently preparing a written submission to the Royal Commission. She is being helped by solicitor Kathryn Starkey who has provided Ms. Wong’s quotes to the ABC. “I am speaking up because I don’t want to see any more veteran suicides,” Ms. Wong said.
“I have experienced continual depression. Life is miserable for me now. “Each day, I feel exhausted and in pain. I have struggled with thoughts of suicide most days.” Ms. Wong was medically discharged from the Royal Australian Air Force after a training accident. “I have suffered enormously,” Ms. Wong said. “Physically, mentally, and emotionally.
“The task of getting appropriate medical and psychological support has been confusing and frustrating. “After my medical discharge, I was effectively left on my own to work out my future healthcare. I was not supported by the ADF.”
Deadline looms An April 28 deadline for private submission requests to the Royal Commission has prompted a surge in veterans wanting to tell their story, Ms Starkey says. “They know that nothing is going to change for them because it’s already occurred,” she said. “But they take great satisfaction and comfort out of being able to finally sit down with someone and have someone sit there and just listen to them.”
Dear ESORT members,
As I outlined in our teleconference last Friday, I will continue to update you at our weekly Friday COVID-19 teleconferences. You should also now have back in your diaries, our fortnightly teleconferences where we can discuss broader issues impacting on the veteran community.
Maintaining continuity of services to the veteran community is a priority, together with ensuring the health and wellbeing of our staff and we want to make it as easy as possible for veterans to find the latest COVID-19 news, health advice and economic support available.
A special edition of e-news will shortly be distributed to the veteran community with articles and links to important information regarding COVID-19 and available support and services. The DVA website www.dva.gov.au is also being updated regularly as new information comes to hand.
Government shopfronts are classified as essential services and, for the time being, DVA’s VAN offices remain open to members of the veteran community. However, we strongly suggest that members of the veteran community should consider their need to visit a VAN office in person. If the query can be managed over the phone, email or internet please call DVA on 1800 555 254 or lodge a query via the website. This is also relevant to your advocates who are encouraged to continue services to veterans and families. Just a reminder that appropriate social distancing arrangements need to be in place and using telephone or on-line may be best at this time.
Our staff are following strict social distancing and personal hygiene practices to protect your health, and theirs. To protect staff and the community, we ask that you do not enter a VAN office if:
- You have returned from overseas within the last two weeks,
- You have had close contact with someone suffering from the COVID-19 coronavirus, or
- You are feeling unwell.
Going forward, meetings with National Consultation Forum will be conducted in a virtual environment. A number of you mentioned a range of platforms utilised by your organisations for your meetings and Charles McHardie will come back to you with further information on how we can remain connected in this way.
We are experiencing a growth in counselling requirements with Open Arms. We are measuring the increases so we can regularly message the ESO community. Counselling services across Australia are working together to ensure that where surges are experienced, resources are shared to provide support where necessary.
Given the challenges we are all facing at this time, I asked you at the meeting last Friday to provide me with any ideas you may have that the Government may wish to consider on how your ex service organisations could be helped more, should I be asked that question in the future. Any thoughts you may have can be emailed to the ESORT Secretariat mail box.
We also undertook to provide you an update on plans to commemorate Anzac Day 2020. You may have seen the announcement that the AWM has now closed to the public in response to the latest health advice. (insert hyperlink) https://www.awm.gov.au/media/press-releases/memorialclosure.
I can assure you the Anzac Day National Service at the Australian War Memorial, without public attendance, will proceed and I will update you further on planning as soon as possible this week.
This is a rapidly evolving situation. I would appreciate it if you could please remind your members to keep themselves informed through the DVA website and I will continue to provide you with information at our weekly Friday teleconferences.
|Liz Cosson AM CSC
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
T: 02 6289 6735 Ext: 616735
E: Liz.Cosson@dva.gov.au | E: Secretary@dva.gov.au
For what they have done, this we will do.
Vietnam Veterans’ Bravery Recognised on Eve of 50th Anniversary – Coral-Balmoral Battle
It’s taken almost half a century but Australian forces who fought in one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War are finally to be recognised for their bravery.
Soldiers who resisted attack at the Battle of Coral-Balmoral, which claimed 26 Australian lives, learn't on Thursday they were to be honoured with a Unit Citation for Bravery. The recommendation comes ahead of the 50th anniversary of the battle on the weekend of May 12-13.
The Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal posted the decision on its website on Thursday morning, stating that members had arrived at the recommendations unanimously.
It said: ‘Throughout the submissions the theme of teamwork and collective gallantry is readily apparent and consistently referenced.
The message to the Tribunal from all of the veterans of the battles was that, regardless of corps and parent unit, they had fought as a coordinated group and that everybody who was there deserve recognition.’
Read the DHAAT Report and its five recommendations:
Read the Sydney Morning Herald’s article :www.smh.com.au/national/vietnam-veterans-bravery-recognised-on-eve-of-50th-anniversary-20180502-p4zcym.html
NEVER ALONE - NEVER FORGOTTEN
SO YOU THINK YOU MIGHT NEED HELP
Do you or a member of your family need to speak to someone who understands problems experienced by serving personnel?
Serving members, veterans and their families are eligible for confidential help from the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) Call 1800 011-046 or visit: www.vvcs.gov.au
Don’t forget your Battalion/Area Medical Officer and Padre.
Have you left the Army and miss being with your mates and others like yourself?
Join the RAR Family through your Battalion Association:
Are you considering lodging a claim with DVA or are having problems with an existing claim or payment?
Contact your local RSL Sub-Branch.
DVA provides a range of support services to eligible veterans in addition to pensions and compensation. Your local RSL Sub-Branch can advise you on what may be available. But if you want to check out what is available yourself, go to www.dva.gov.au
Have you been wounded or injured and are having problems?
For help with rehabilitation and general support services contact any of these support agencies
YOUNG DIGGERS at www.youngdiggers.com.au
SOLDIER ON at 04 7858 9132 or visit www.soldieron.org.au
MATES4MATES at 1300 462837or visit www.mates4mates.org
Are you or a member of your family experiencing anxiety or depression?
Contact BEYOND BLUE at 1300 22 4636 or visit www.beyondblue.org.au.
Are you in crisis now?
Contact 000 – EMERGENCY (112 on a mobile phone) or LIFELINE at 131114 or visit www.lifeline.org.au
“ KEEPING THE SPIRIT ALIVE”
ADSO – A REMINDER OF WHO WE ARE
ADSO is an Alliance of major Defence Service Organisations whose members include current and past serving ADF persons.
It was formed to protect and represent the Defence Family’s (past and current serving ADFmembers and their immediate families) interests by active engagement with the Parliament.
The Defence Family’s community of interest size is about 3 million people. Its objective is to protect the Defence Family’s interests and right the wrongs imposed on it by successive Australian governments.
It is issues based and for the Fair Go Campaign has focused on four major issues:
military superannuation indexation,
DVA disability pensions,
the military compensation system (objective achieved with the previous Labor government’s review and its overwhelming acceptance of the findings) and
ADF members and veterans’ health issues with a number of initiatives taken by the previous Labor government and ongoing work in this area.