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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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9 May 2018

Budget puts veterans and their families first

Veterans and their families will continue to come first with $100 million in additional funding provided in the 2018-19 Budget announced on Tuesday.

This funding is in addition to ongoing funds allocated to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). In 2018-19, this ongoing funding will total $11.2 billion.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the additional $100 million investment will help fund the continuing reform process underway at DVA. This transformation will ensure veterans and their families receive the services and support they need.

“The Government is working hard to make sure veterans and their families can access the services they rely on more easily and faster,” Mr Chester said.

“DVA’s transformation is about not only upgrading out-dated computer systems but also looking at improving our service delivery to ensure the best possible outcome for veterans and their families.

“We’re also making sure that veterans can access DVA’s services through digital platforms and investigating new ways to reach out to veterans.”

Included in the new funding is $4.0 million for the ongoing implementation of the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program and $4.3 million for additional services to help veterans enter the broader workforce.

“Transitioning to civilian life and finding meaningful employment post-service can be a challenge for some Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel,” Mr Chester said.

“We know the best type of support for our ex-service men and women is the economic independence that comes with a job.

“The key to getting our veterans into the workforce once they leave the ADF is making sure businesses are aware of the unique skills and experiences these individuals have.”

“That’s why the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program is such an important initiative.”

Mr Chester said the new Budget funding would help those struggling to find a job by providing additional support with resume and interview preparation, translating ADF skills into civilian competencies, mentoring and coaching services.

The Government is also investing $10.8 million to remove the reduction in the amount of incapacity payments when eligible veterans are undertaking approved full-time study as part of their rehabilitation plan.

“We want to encourage and support those studying with a view to getting them back into the workforce,” Mr Chester said.

The Budget also contains a major reform package designed to improve dental and allied health services for veterans. The package will be implemented in four stages that will include adjustments to fee schedules, a new treatment cycle initiative, trials of funding models and upgrades to meet future needs.

“These reforms are about making sure that the 140,000 DVA cardholders who access dental and allied health services benefit from improved communication between their GPs and service providers,” Mr Chester said.

“We are also looking to expand the range of services we can deliver through new technology like telehealth via telephone or video and online video counselling.”

The 2018-19 Budget also:

  • Expands eligibility for non-liability mental health treatment to Reservists with domestic or international disaster relief or border protection service or those involved in a serious service-related training accident;
  • Extends eligibility for the Long Tan Bursary to the grandchildren of Vietnam veterans; and
  • Reverses two 2015-16 Budget measures related to certain calculations under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 at a cost of $5.3 million over the forward estimates.

More information about all of DVA’s 2018-19 Budget measures is available at www.dva.gov.au.

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8 May 2018

73 years since Victory in Europe

TODAY is the 73rd anniversary of Victory in Europe Day when we are encouraged to remember the Australian service men and women who served in the European and Mediterranean theatres of the Second World War, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Darren Chester said.

Victory in Europe Day, 8 May 1945, ended five years and eight months of hostilities in Europe and the Mediterranean as Germany’s unconditional surrender took effect on all fronts.

“Australian men and women served in the European and Mediterranean theatres from the beginning of hostilities in September 1939. Some 10,000 lost their lives in the war against Germany and her European allies, almost 10,000 more were wounded and some 8,000 became prisoners of war,” Mr Chester said.

“Victory in Europe Day was a cause for great celebration in Allied nations and meant that thousands of Australians including recently released prisoners of war, could return home.

“In Australia, news of Germany’s surrender was tempered with the knowledge that the war in the Pacific continued with no end yet in sight.

“We must never forget the significance of the Allied victory in Europe, or the men and women whose service and sacrifice helped bring about Germany’s defeat.”

ENDS

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5 May 2018

Australians encouraged to recognise Battle of Coral Sea

THE 76th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, which ended Japanese attempts on Port Moresby by sea, will be commemorated today with a national service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the Battle of the Coral Sea had long been regarded as “the battle that saved Australia”.

“The Battle of the Coral Sea is the largest naval battle that has ever been fought off Australia’s shores and is significant because it prevented a Japanese sea-borne invasion of Port Moresby,” Mr Chester said.

“The battle was fought in the waters southwest of the Solomon Islands and east of New Guinea between 4 and 8 May 1942 and was one of a series of actions that year which ended the Japanese threat to Australia.

“If the Japanese had been successful they could have landed a force in Port Moresby, furthering their aim to cut sea routes between Australia and the United States.”

No Australians were killed during the naval battle although more than 550 Americans were killed or wounded and the United States aircraft carrier USS Lexington was sunk.

Today’s commemorations in Melbourne, which involve a wreath-laying service, are an opportunity to show thanks and gratitude to the service men and women of Australia and the United States who saved the nation from imminent threat.

“I offer the thanks of grateful generations to the men and women who sacrificed so much in the defence of our country,” Mr Chester said.

“On this anniversary, we remember those who fought in the Battle of the Coral Sea. Their efforts will never be forgotten.”

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29 April 2018

National commemoration for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic

VETERANS and their direct relatives will meet in Canberra to recognise the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic, which was critical to the Allied victory in the Second World War.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester paid tribute to the Australians who served during the Battle of the Atlantic and said that had the Allies lost here the war might have taken a very different course.

“The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest military campaign of the Second World War, beginning in September 1939 and concluding almost six years later with the surrender of Germany on 8 May 1945,” Mr Chester said.

“Supply routes across the Atlantic Ocean were vital to the Allies, as Britain relied on shipping for almost everything it needed to survive, including war materiel, food, fuel and reinforcements. Germany sought to isolate Britain by severing the Atlantic shipping lanes, waging a campaign that cost the lives of tens of thousands of sailors on both sides.”

“The Battle of the Atlantic was fought over thousands of miles across the war’s most dangerous shipping lanes. It involved submarines, ships and aircraft, code-breakers, intelligence operatives and thousands of civilian seamen and merchant mariners. More than 3,000 British and Allied ships were sunk and some 30,000 Allied and merchant seamen were lost.”

The 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic will be marked with a national commemoration to be held at the Australian War Memorial.

“The award of some 5,000 Atlantic Stars to Australian service personnel and merchant mariners gives us a sense of how many men from our shores risked their lives in this campaign. Australians reflect with gratitude on the contribution of our service men and merchant seamen to the Battle of the Atlantic and this will be demonstrated at a national commemoration to be held in their honour,” Mr Chester said.

“The efforts of thousands of Australians helped pave the way to an eventual Allied victory in the Second World War and we will never forget their sacrifice and service.”

The national commemoration will commence at 1pm on 1 May 2018.

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10 January 2018

25th anniversary of Australia’s peacekeeping deployment to Somalia

TODAY marks the 25th anniversary of the commencement of Australia’s significant contribution to peacekeeping operations in Somalia, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Michael McCormack says.

“In late 1992 a catastrophic humanitarian disaster compounded by a complete breakdown in civil order plunged Somalia into chaos,” Mr McCormack said.

“In response to the crisis Australia deployed forces from all three Services with the Australian contribution to the Unified Task Force – Somalia (Unitaf) arriving in Somalia in January 1993.

“Close to 1,000 personnel with land forces centred on the Army’s 1st Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR), with significant contributions from a number of other units. The Royal Australian Navy deployed HMAS Tobruk and HMAS Jervis Bay with both ships providing important logistical support.”

Mr McCormack said elements of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) were used to move the Australian Forces to and from the conflict area and conducted regular resupply missions.

“RAAF personnel also served in Somalia as air traffic controllers and in airfield management roles and members of the Australian Army were deployed to the town of Baidoa about 240km north-west of Mogadishu in January 1993 where banditry and warlord intimidation were rife,” Mr McCormack said.

“Australians were successful at fostering and protecting humanitarian relief efforts and won international praise for their efforts in trying to restore law and order and re-establishing functional legal, social and economic systems.

“The lessons learnt from working with non-government organisations, building local security infrastructure and enabling local community governance continue to inform the Australian Defence Forces’ humanitarian and counter-insurgency operations today.”

Mr McCormack said more than 1,500 Australians served in Somalia from 1992–94, four were wounded or injured—and one Australian soldier—infantryman Lance Corporal Shannon McAliney was accidentally killed on 2 April 1993.

“We remember him especially today and pay tribute to his service and sacrifice. His efforts are particularly significant as Forbes, his birthplace, is in my Riverina electorate and has given mightily to the military efforts of this nation right back to the Second Boer War,” Mr McCormack said.

“I am pleased the Coalition Government has provided nearly $29,000 to assist 1RAR and the Australian Naval Association to commemorate this anniversary, Australia has a proud history of peacekeeping having participated in multinational peacekeeping operations since the first intervention in the Dutch East Indies in 1947.

“Our Defence Force has made a significant contribution to worldwide peace operations and today we recognise the peacekeepers who served in Somalia and those who continue to serve in countries around the world.”

 

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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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