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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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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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

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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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21 September 2018
 

Accessible mental health support for veterans

THE Government today acknowledged the release of two reports from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) — the 2018 update on the Causes of death among serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel: 2002–2015, and the National suicide monitoring of serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the latest findings show those who choose to serve in the ADF are, on average, healthier than the general community. However, the findings also highlight the need to support the mental health of veterans, particularly those under 30.

“Our Government is putting veterans and their families first,” Mr Chester said.

“We are committed to supporting the physical and mental health of veterans and these reports provide a valuable contribution to our understanding of veterans’ health.

“We have taken significant steps in recent years to increase mental health support to our veterans, and our priority now is to enhance support to veterans during their transition period.

“Our Government provides more than $11.2 billion each year to deliver services and programs to support 290,000 veterans and their families, with $200 million spent on mental health alone.”

Eligible transitioning ADF members now automatically receive a DVA Health Card – Specific Conditions (White Card), which can be used to access treatment for any mental health condition, regardless of whether or not it is related to their service.

“This builds on the 2018–19 Budget measure, which expanded mental health treatment to eligible current and former Reservists without the need to link this condition to their service,” Mr Chester said.

“ADF personnel who receive a White Card for mental health treatment will not be required to make a claim with DVA to get treatment for mental health conditions—they can simply use their card to access treatment.”

ADF veteran, Kellie Dadds who has been deployed eight times says the support will be valuable.

“This initiative will be welcomed by veterans who are transitioning from the ADF as it is another step easing the transition process. Knowing this support is available when required is pleasing and will ensure that veterans get treatment early should they need it,” Ms Dadds said.

Current and former ADF members transitioning to civilian life also have access to a comprehensive one-off health assessment with their general practitioner (GP).

“From 1 July 2019, all those leaving the ADF will be able to access an annual comprehensive health assessment by a GP for the first five years after they discharge,” Mr Chester said.

“This is a $2.1 million commitment from government and will assist in the early detection and treatment of mental and physical health concerns during transition to civilian life, addressing a high risk period for the emergence of mental health conditions and suicide.”

Mental health treatment provided through a White Card can include: consultations with a GP; psychiatrist; psychologist; mental health social worker or mental health occupational therapist; specialist PTSD programs; subsidised pharmaceuticals required to treat a condition, and hospital treatment. Health assessments can be accessed with a Medicare card.

Former ADF members who have already transitioned to civilian life can still access DVA funded treatment for any mental health condition through the use of a White Card by emailing the Department at nlhc@dva.gov.au or calling 1800 555 254.

Eligible transitioning ADF members will receive their White Cards in the mail.

ENDS

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14 September 2018
 

Honouring the contribution of Australia’s Peacekeepers

THE vital role of Australians in United Nations (UN) peace operations and their more than 70 years of dedicated service to the international community is remembered today, National Peacekeeper and Peacemaker Day.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said peacekeepers and peacemakers have played, and continue to play, an important role in providing support and assistance to victims of conflict, often in unstable and dangerous locations.

“In September 1947, the first Australian peacekeepers arrived in the Netherlands East Indies—modern day Indonesia—to begin work as unarmed military observers and to observe the movements of both sides to ensure any violations were brought to the attention of the international community,” Mr Chester said.

“Over time the nature of peacekeeping evolved, requiring management of more complex and multi-dimensional issues, ranging from operations as military observers, providing logistical support, and monitoring ceasefires to landmine clearance operations, supporting democratic elections, providing policing support functions, and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid.”

Since 1947, Australians have served in more than 50 multi-national peacekeeping operations. Australian state and federal police forces have also had a long involvement in peacekeeping operations, beginning in 1964 with the first deployment to Cyprus and ending 53 years later in 2017. 

“Today, I encourage people across the nation to respect and honour the service of the 16 Australians who have died on peacekeeping operations,” Mr Chester said.

“Australians should also reflect on those who have served in all peacekeeping missions, and those who are currently serving in the Middle East UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), and the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS).”

ENDS

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12 September 2018

Female Veterans share their unique perspective

HEADLINING a week of events honouring our current, and former, female Australian Defence Force (ADF) members, the third Female Veterans Policy Forum is bringing together a large, diverse group of female veterans to share their unique perspectives on life during and after military service.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester today opened the Forum and said he looked forward to discussing how the Department of Veterans’ Affairs could better support women who are serving, or have served, in defence of our nation.

“This is a great opportunity to hear directly from our female veterans and gain valuable insights into how the unique nature of military service has shaped their lives,” Mr Chester said.

“This Forum allows us to hear their thoughts and views, and share our policy and service initiatives. More importantly, this means that DVA services will be designed by veterans and their families, for veterans and their families.”

“Outcomes of previous forums have underpinned the design of several activities related to female veterans’ health and research into support for veterans’ families.”

Forum attendees explored the needs of women who have served their country or supported family members who served, and worked with them to develop potential solutions to important issues impacting their communities.

Mr Chester said it was a privilege to attend the ‘Honouring Women United by Defence Service’ dinner this week and it was fitting that the events were held simultaneously, reflecting the significant support for this community.

Women have played and continue to play an invaluable role in Australia’s rich military history, including as current and ex-serving ADF members, as well as the mothers, wives, partners, sisters, children and widows of ex-serving personnel,” Mr Chester said.

See the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website for further information on the Forum.

ENDS

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7 September 2018

Appointment of members to the Veterans’ Review Board

MINISTER for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester today announced that the Governor-General His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret’d) has appointed five new members and reappointed five members to the Veterans’ Review Board (VRB).

The VRB is an independent tribunal that reviews decisions about Repatriation pensions (other than Service Pensions) and attendant allowance.

Mr Chester said the five new members appointed to the VRB are Colonel Catherine Carrigan, Major John Jeremy Lewis, Dr Judith Harte, Dr Leith Shane Henry and Ms Amanda MacDonald.

Colonel Evan Carlin, Dr Peter Salu, Group Captain Anne Trengove, Colonel David Collins and Major Jennifer Ann Walker have all been reappointed.

“The members being appointed and reappointed have an outstanding history of achievement in their fields and I am confident that each member will serve the veteran community with distinction in this important role,” Mr Chester said.

“The VRB plays a vital role in ensuring veterans receive all the benefits and payments to which they are entitled.

“I congratulate all the appointees and look forward to their contribution to the important work of the VRB.”

Biographies of the appointees are available on the VRB website <http://www.vrb.gov.au/members_bios.html>.

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 Guy Barnett
Tasmanian Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

6 September 2018

Joint media release — Thirty-three headstones and plaques for World War One Veterans unveiled

The Federal and State Ministers for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester and Guy Barnett today unveiled 33 headstones and plaques for World War One Veterans buried at Cornelian Bay cemetery.

The Tasmanian Headstone Project was created in 2011 to properly honour veterans who were buried in unmarked graves or in circumstances where a headstone had been lost.

Experts have advised that there may be more than 250 soldiers who are buried in unmarked graves in the cemetery.

Headstones have been placed on 201 of these graves, with an additional 32 being unveiled today.

“To be buried without acknowledgement after having served your country in battle is a tragic and sad circumstance,” Mr Chester said.

“I congratulate the Headstone Project for the extensive work they have done to bring this project to fruition and ensure that these the First World War servicemen are appropriately recognised here in Tasmania.

“The headstones will be a lasting tribute to those who have proudly served Australia.

“As a nation it is incredibly important we remember and reflect on the service of the almost two million Australians who have served in the Navy, Army and Air Force over a century of service.”

Mr Barnett said the headstones restore a lasting legacy to our fallen, after a century of neglect.

“They link the past to the present and enable people to remember and respect the service and sacrifice of those who fought and died for their country,” Mr Barnett said.

While in Hobart Mr Chester met veterans groups in a round-table workshop at Anglesea Barracks and inspected progress on three projects funded under the Anzac Centenary Public Fund Board.

Federal Government funding for the three Public Fund projects totals almost 10 million; including the $8 million Bridge of Remembrance, linking the Cenotaph in Hobart with the Queens Domain Walk; the $1.1 million Soldiers Memorial Avenue and the $300,000 Flame of Remembrance at the Cenotaph.

Mr Chester’s visit coincides with Legacy Week which is running from last Sunday until Saturday.

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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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