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Sep 08

Media Releases

Australia

The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

 

 

 

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6 November 2018
New Lions unveiled at the Menin Gate in Ieper

NEW Menin Gate lions are now a permanent fixture on the plinths in front of the Menin Gate Memorial, as the Australian Government’s gift to the city of Ieper (Ypres) was unveiled today.

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said Australia and the city of Ieper, which was accepting the gift on behalf of the Belgian people, have a special connection that was forged some 100 years ago, as demonstrated by the Menin Gate and its lions.

The new lions were a gift from the Australian Government, with the originals given to the Australian Government by the city of Ieper in 1936 as an expression of gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice made by more than 13,000 Australian soldiers in Belgium. The originals are now at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, following some restoration work, for all Australians and visitors to see.

“Our soldiers in their thousands once walked between these gates on route to the battlefields,” Mr Chester said.

“It is with great pride that the Australian Government has the opportunity to unveil these new lions today, a special gift and lasting reminder of our appreciation for the city in never forgetting Australia’s sacrifice.”

During the First World War more than 13,000 Australians made the ultimate sacrifice in Belgium. The Menin Gate memorial now bears the names of more than 6,000 of them who have no known grave.

The lions are perfect replicas of the originals, using the same stone and carved by local Belgian stonemasons. They have taken more than 1300 hours to carve, including over 500 hours by hand.

Mr Chester and the Mayor of Ieper signed an official agreement as part of the ceremony to finalise the gift from Australia.

“As the Anzac Centenary period draws to a close, commemorating 100 years since the First World War and its many battles, it is important that Australia never forgets the city of Ieper, just like they will never forget us,” Mr Chester said.

“As they do every single day of the year for the nightly Last Post service, the local community turned out in their hundreds for the special occasion.”

Images from the ceremony and the new lions will be made available on the Defence image gallery.

ENDS

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4 November 2018
Who do you remember during a minute’s silence

IN the lead-up to Remembrance Day, Australians are being encouraged to take a moment to reflect on who they will be thinking about during the minute’s silence at 11am on 11 November and share it using the hashtag, #1MS (1 Minute’s Silence).

As part of promoting #1MS, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC Darren Chester joined well-known Australians in expressing why they stop for a minute, including Cate and Bronte Campbell, Johnathan Thurston, Dan Sultan, Les Hill, Curtis McGrath and Bree Bailie, a current serving member of the Australian Defence Force.

“Remembrance Day is special to Australians, young and old, for many different reasons and sharing the stories is incredibly important,” Mr Chester said.

“I have been privileged in my role to attend several commemorative services and listen to the stories of veterans and family members, including who they are commemorating and what they think about during the minute’s silence.

“Many Australians have an ancestor or relative who has served or died in wars, conflicts and on peacekeeping operations and it is this deep personal connection that they remember.

“Others don’t have this personal connection, but stand in silent gratitude to those who sacrificed so much for our nation over the last century.”

This Remembrance Day marks the centenary of the First World War Armistice — the day the guns on the Western Front fell silent and the greatest war the modern world had ever seen was all but over.

“While this year marks this significant milestone, as a nation we need to ensure the custom of observing a minute of silence continues now and in to the future,” Mr Chester said.

“Remembrance Day is a time for us as a nation to unite in a minute of solemn respect and admiration for those who served and died in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

“I strongly encourage all Australians to really think about why they pause on Remembrance Day, to attend their local Remembrance Day services and to stop for a minute’s silence.”

ENDS

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02 November 2018
Bird Inquiry independent reviewer

An Australian veteran who served in Afghanistan, Jesse Bird, tragically died of suicide on 27 June 2017 at the age of 32.

In 2017, the Government committed to an independent review of the implementation of the recommendations of the Joint Defence/Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Inquiry into the Jesse Bird case after 12 months.

Emeritus Professor Robin Creyke AO has been appointed to conduct this review. Professor Creyke is widely experienced in issues such as veterans’ entitlements and military compensation law.

This independent review will help ensure that DVA has learned from the tragedy and is transforming its systems and policies to better serve veterans and their families, especially when they are at their most vulnerable.

DVA has been and is continuing to improve and streamline numerous processes and making it easier for veterans and their families to gain access to free mental health treatment.

The recommendations of the Bird Inquiry and DVA’s implementation progress report are available online.

ENDS

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The Hon Scott Morrison MP
Prime Minister

The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

27 October 2018
Joint media statement — Recognising and respecting our veterans

Veterans and their families are at the centre of a fresh package of initiatives from our Government to recognise their vital role and service to Australia.

We understand the home front is just as important as the front line.

Our Government will develop an Australian Veterans’ Covenant that will be enacted in legislation so the nation can recognise the unique nature of military service and support veterans and their families.

Like the United Kingdom Armed Forces Covenant, the Australian Veterans’ Covenant is for the Australian community to recognise the service and sacrifice of the men and women who commit to defend the nation, and pledge their commitment to support veterans and their families.

As part of this Veterans’ Covenant, a new Australian Veterans’ Card and an Australian Veterans’ Lapel Pin will make it easier for all Australians to recognise and respect the unique contribution that veterans have made to Australia and for our veterans to reconnect with others who have served.

As we have seen throughout the Invictus Games and in the lead up to the Centenary of Armistice, Australians want to acknowledge and show respect for our veterans who have given so much in their service.

Businesses, government and community organisations can also play their part in recognising and respecting those who have served. The card and the pin can help these organisations identify veterans when they aren’t wearing their uniform or medals, so they can offer discounts and extra support.

The new Card and Lapel Pin will for the first time enable everyone across the nation to recognise and acknowledge the unique nature of military service and support the more than 300,000 veterans in Australia and their families. The Prime Minister will be writing to businesses and communities to urge them to recognise the service of our veterans.

In addition to the record $11.2 billion annual support our government delivers for veterans and their families, we will invest $11.1 million in these measures to deliver a national approach to recognise veterans and will further consult defence and veterans communities in coming weeks.

We will also deliver $6.7 million to develop the SoldierOn Fussell House accommodation facility to be co-located at the Concord Repatriation Hospital in Sydney that the NSW Berejiklian Government is investing more than $340 million to rebuild. This includes the National Centre for Veterans Health – an Australian first, state of the art centre for specialised health care for veterans.

Named for Lieutenant Michael Fussell who was serving with the Special Operations Task Group in Afghanistan when he was killed in action by an Improvised Explosive Device detonation, the facility will house up to 40 veterans and their families at a time and will especially benefit those from regional and rural areas when veterans are getting treatment.

Our Government will also invest $7.6 million for the Kookaburra Kids Defence Program to boost their targeted support to children of ex-serving defence force members who are experiencing mental health issues due to their service.

The Kookaburra Kids Defence Program was first supported by our government with a $2.1 million injection in a pilot program in NSW, the ACT, Queensland and the NT for 569 children, and this extra investment will see the program expand into Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia for 1,750 children.

As a country we can always do more to recognise and back in our veterans. Our government is committed to setting Australia up to support the veterans of today and tomorrow.

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25 October 2018
Funding to support veterans and their communities

More than $824,000 of funding under the latest round of Veteran and Community Grants (VCG) program will soon be provided to community groups supporting veterans.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester today announced 62 grants for organisations helping veterans in the community.

“Our Government is putting veterans and their families first and provides more than $11.2 billion each year to deliver the essential services and programs they rely on,” Mr Chester said.

“The Veteran and Community Grants program invests in projects which maintain and improve the independence and quality of life for members of the veteran community and their families.

“Funding provided in this round will be used to purchase workshop and ICT equipment, trips to reduce social isolation and upgrades to facilities to provide a safer environment.”

The Veteran and Community Grants program will continue to assess applications in batches throughout the year.

“I encourage ex-service and community organisations, veteran representative groups and private organisations to apply for funding to support projects that promote improved independence and quality of life for veterans through the Veteran and Community Grants program,” Mr Chester said.

“I would like to congratulate all successful applicants and thank them for the continued support to help the men and women who served in the defence of our nation.”

A full list of recipients can be found below. For more information on the Veteran and Community Grants program, please visit the Community Grants Hub.

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19 October 2018
Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling Launch

The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) has been relaunched today as Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling based on feedback from veterans and veterans’ families.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the counselling service, originally founded as the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service, has been providing essential face to face counselling services to Australian veterans for more than 35 years.

“Our Government is putting veterans and their families first and provides more than $11.2 billion each year to deliver the essential services and programs they rely on,” Mr Chester said.

“If you have served one full day in the Australian Defence Force you can access free mental health care whether that condition is service related or not.

“Last year alone, around 100,000 counselling sessions were provided to more than 27,000 veterans and their families.”

Mr Chester said the rebrand was designed through extensive consultation and feedback from VVCS clients, veterans, staff and Ex-Service Organisations to increase awareness of the service so more veterans and their families know where to go for help if they need it.

“This new name and brand will help promote the service, especially to younger veterans and their families, to ensure more veterans and families know where to gain access to the help they need.

“Along with face-to-face counselling, the service now offers training programs and peer support networks, relationship retreats, group treatment programs and suicide prevention courses.

Open Arms is a lasting legacy of the Vietnam veterans who identified that the psychological impacts of war, and also military service itself, often last decades after the physical wounds have healed.”

More information

An animation explaining the name change

Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling

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The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

Mr Llew O’Brien MP
Member for Wide Bay

10 October 2018
Joint media release — Military history, commemoration and education thrives in Maryborough

Maryborough residents’ keen interest in military history, commemoration and education will be on show today with Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Darren Chester, visiting the Gallipoli to Armistice Military Trail, and the Maryborough Special School.

Mr Chester and Member for Wide Bay, Mr Llew O’Brien MP, today inspected the Military Trail, which is funded by all three tiers of government, and now winds through Queen’s Park in Maryborough.

“The Wide Bay area has a proud history of military service and as we near the centenary of the First World War Armistice, this large-scale project will be a fitting tribute for the whole community. moving into our next century of service,” Mr Chester said.

“In the lead-up to this important commemorative milestone for our country, I have recently approved a grant for the Maryborough RSL Sub-Branch of more than $11,000 under the Armistice Centenary Grants Program.

“This grant will allow the RSL to create a fitting tribute to our current and former serving personnel through two murals — the first commemorating the Armistice Centenary and the second commemorating the service and sacrifice of the Australian Defence Force.

“Our Government is committed to supporting our 290,000 veterans and their families, and provides more than $11.2 billion each year to deliver essential services and programs.”

As part of Mr Chester’s visit to the area he also toured the Maryborough Special School, which this year won the Best Local History Research project as part of the Anzac Day Schools’ Awards.

Mr O’Brien congratulated the Maryborough Special School and said the community could be proud of the interest of students learning about and commemorating Australia’s military history.

“Not only did the school hold a variety of engaging activities, the students told stories of soldiers from the Maryborough district,” Mr O’Brien said.

“By creating a living relationship between our past and present with our future generation, it ensures the service and sacrifice of current and former defence personnel is never forgotten.”

Mr O’Brien said Maryborough has a rich and proud military history, with the landmark Gallipoli to Armistice Military Trail complemented by the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum, which is home to an internationally renowned collection of memorabilia, awards and medals.

“It’s pleasing to see Maryborough’s reputation further enhanced by the work being done by the Maryborough RSL and the Maryborough Special School, ensuring the stories of local service personnel continue to be told so we can all remember and honour them.”

Ends

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10 October 2018

Enhanced services to be provided to veterans and their families in Queensland

More assistance is available for veteran service organisations boosting support for veterans and their families in the electorate of Hinkler in Queensland, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester announced today.

Mr Chester and Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt visited Toogoom and Hervey Bay in Queensland to see how additional funding provided through the Building Excellence in Support and Training (BEST) Grants would assist veterans.

“Grants programs such as BEST provide vital financial assistance to ex-service organisations to provide pension, advocacy and welfare to support veterans and their families,” Mr Chester said.

“More than $49,000 in Federal Government funding to the Hervey Bay RSL Sub-Branch will assist with salary and office administration.

“Our Government is committed to supporting our 290,000 veterans and their families, and provides more than $11.2 billion each year to deliver essential services and programs.”

Last year Hervey Bay RSL Sub-Branch was aided with more than $79,000 in funding through the Veteran and Community Grants (V&CG) program assisting in providing much-needed transport for veterans to attend social and commemorative events.

Mr Chester and Mr Pitt were pleased to see first-hand the work of a variety of ex-service organisations supporting veterans in the Hervey Bay community.

“The Hervey Bay RSL Sub-branch plays an important role in supporting our veteran community, and it’s great to see they are supported with funding from our Government,” Mr Pitt said.

“It is important that the Australian community helps veterans wherever they can as veterans served to defend Australia.

“It’s another example of our community helping veterans with a place to work on meaningful projects at their own pace, in their own time and in the company of others.”

The V&CG program provides seeding funds for projects that support a healthy, good-quality lifestyle for members. For more information on the grant program, visit the Community Grants Hub at www.communitygrants.gov.au.

Ends

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The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Ken O’Dowd MP
Member for Flynn

Joint media release — RSL sub-branches key to continued veteran engagement

9 October 2018

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester and Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd today commended Returned and Services League (RSL) Sub-Branches for continuing to play an important role in assisting veterans and their families to gain access to veterans’ services and programs.

Mr Chester and Mr O’Dowd joined Gracemere RSL members in a breakfast acknowledging the long history of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) and the RSL working together.

“The RSL has been supporting veterans for more than 100 years and its Sub-Branches are vital in making sure veterans remain active and involved,” Mr Chester said.

“Our Government is committed to supporting our 290,000 veterans and their families, and provides more than $11.2 billion each year to deliver essential services and programs.”

Mr O’Dowd said the Gracemere RSL does great work in its local community advocating for and briefing veterans on issues relevant to them.

“They also host a number of ceremonial events such as Anzac Day and Remembrance Day, conduct welfare activities, and host social activities for members to integrate with the wider community,” Mr O’Dowd said.

“RSL Sub-Branches are important channels for keeping veterans and their families informed about initiatives such as the transformation and reform process under way at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.”

More information about DVA’s engagement with the ex-service community and ex-service organisations is available on the DVA website.

Ends

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The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

The Hon Dr John McVeigh MP
Member for Groom

Joint media release — More support offered to Toowoomba veterans

8 October 2018

TODAY Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester and Member for Groom Dr John McVeigh met with numerous Ex-Service Organisations (ESOs) in the Toowoomba region and announced more than $20,000 in funding will be provided through the Armistice Centenary Grants Program (ACGP) to the Toowoomba United RSL Sub-Branch.

Mr Chester and Dr McVeigh met ESOs in the Toowoomba Soldiers Memorial Hall to discuss issues affecting them and their families, hear their concerns and receive their feedback.

“As Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, roundtables such as this one in Toowoomba, are important where I can sit down with representatives from local ESOs,” Mr Chester said.

“Our Government is committed to supporting our 290,000 veterans and their families, and provides more than $11.2 billion each year to deliver essential services and programs.”

Mr Chester outlined ACGP grants are for local community-based projects and activities that commemorate the Centenary of the Armistice and end of the First World War, remembering Australian service men and women from all conflicts, and celebrate a just and secure peace.

“I am pleased today to announce the Australian Government has approved funding of $22,727 to the Toowoomba United RSL Sub-Branch for commemorative projects,” Mr Chester said.

“The grant will assist them in preserving their impressive collection of historical memorabilia and to develop a database on First World War service personnel.”

Dr McVeigh said the Toowoomba United RSL Sub-Branch lodged two applications under the ACGP seeking funding to restore First World War memorabilia and display cases at the Soldiers Memorial Hall and to develop a database with additional information on service personnel listed on the First World War honour roll as part of the Hall of Memories.

“The ACGP grants enable locally based commemorative projects to take place honouring the service and sacrifice of Australia’s service personnel,” Dr McVeigh said.

Mr Chester said the Government was committed to putting veterans and their families first.

“I am very grateful to the organisations who have taken the time to meet with me and Dr McVeigh today and I encourage them to keep engaging with my Department on issues affecting their members,” Mr Chester said.

For more information on Armistice Centenary visit www.anzaccentenary.gov.au

Ends

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26 September 2018

Veteran pensions set to increase

VETERAN pension payments have increased in line with the biannual indexation process.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said this Government is working hard to put veterans’ and their families first.

“Our Government provides more than $11.2 billion each year to deliver essential services and programs to support 290,000 veterans and their families,” Mr Chester said.

“The new pension rates will be fully effective from pension payday 11 October 2018 for pension recipients including veterans, their partners, war widows and widowers across Australia.”

Due to the calculation of pension rates on a daily basis, the first pension paid after the indexation on payday 27 September 2018 will comprise a component of both the old and new rates.

The table below highlights the new fortnightly rates.

Pension type Old rate
(fortnightly)
New rate
(fortnightly)
Increase
(fortnightly)
Service pension
Single person $907.60 $916.30 $8.70
Couples (each) $684.10 $690.70 $6.60
Single person – transitional $762.00 $768.00 $6.00
Couples (each) – transitional $614.80 $619.60 $4.80
War widows
War widow(er)’s pension $922.50 $931.50 $9.00
Income support supplement $272.60 $275.40 $2.80
Disability pension
T&PI (Special rate) $1,394.20 $1,408.00 $13.80
Intermediate rate $946.60 $956.00 $9.40
EDA $770.20 $777.90 $7.70
100 per cent $495.70 $500.60 $4.90
10 per cent $56.50 $56.99 $0.49

These are the maximum rates of payment and include any Energy Supplement payable.

Pensions are indexed twice a year in March and September. For a full list of pension rates visit DVA’s income support information or call 133 254 or 1800 555 254 (from regional Australia).

ENDS

 

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  Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546)

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