Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Autumn edition of Vetaffairs now available

The Autumn edition of Vetaffairs is out now on the DVA website.
Check out the articles and stories and download your copy today: bit.ly/VetaffairsAutumn2019

Highlights include:

  • winners of the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards
  • Details of the new Australian Veterans’ Recognition Bill 2019 and an update on the Veterans’ Recognition Package
  • the launch of the Council for Women and Families United by Defence Service
  • the launch of a dedicated Families section of the At Ease website and the appointment of Ms Gwen Cherne to the Council of the Australian War Memorial
  • In her regular column, DVA Secretary Liz Cosson AM CSC discusses the recent Productivity Commission report, DVA’s online platform MyService, Anzac Day commemorations, DVA’s Transformation journey and the Department’s plans for 2019
  • Open Arms group programs

Friday, 5 April 2019

Media Release: New research provides deeper look at serving and ex-serving community

The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Thursday 4 April 2019

New research provides deeper look at serving and ex-serving community

THREE major reports from the Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme were today released, providing the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), and the broader health community, a better understanding of the health concerns of current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies at the University of Adelaide has led the research programme, which investigates the impact of military service on the mental, physical and social health of serving and ex-serving ADF members and their families.
“The reports, Technology Use and WellbeingMental Health Changes Over Time: a Longitudinal Perspective and Impact of Combat, each explored important aspects of serving and ex-serving members lives,” Mr Chester said.
“Overall, the reports confirmed that most ADF members and their families are healthy and manage transition from the military to civilian life well, but some find transition challenging.
“The reports tell us that 84 per cent of transitioned ADF personnel were engaged in some purposeful activity, with 62.8 per cent in civilian employment — which includes 5.5 per cent who had retired. And we know that only 5.2 per cent of the almost 25,000 individuals who left the ADF between 2010 and 2014 were unemployed.”
Mr Chester said the research also confirmed that more needs to be done to assist veterans and their families during the critical transition period to civilian life.
“The Government has invested in veterans and their families over successive Budgets, and as announced on Tuesday night, we have committed to a range of measures in the 2019-20 Budget,” Mr Chester said.
“This includes an additional $16.2 million in the 2019–20 Budget to support grants to not-for-profit organisations to deliver innovative programs to support veterans gain meaningful employment and $4.0 million to provide training to volunteers who work with veterans on mental health support and intervention.
“The Government is committed to putting veterans and their families first and will spend $11.5 billion this year to deliver the essential services and support they rely on.
“Importantly, since this data has been collected, the Government has funded the transformation and improvement of DVA, and increased support for mental health, transition and employment for current and former ADF members, veterans and their families.
“Defence and DVA will use the research to further develop targeted programs initiatives that benefit current and former ADF members, veterans and their families, as well as determine future research priorities.”
The $6 million Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme is jointly funded by Defence and DVA and is the most comprehensive study undertaken in Australia on the impact of military service on the mental, physical and social health of transitioned and current serving ADF members and their families.
Seven of the eight reports have now been released and are available on the DVA and the Defence websites, along with further information on the Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme. The Government will release the final report, a summary of the previous seven reports, in the near future.

About the reports:

The Technology Use and Wellbeing report is one of the first studies world-wide to investigate the use of the internet and new and emerging programs and technologies that support the wellbeing and mental health of serving and ex-serving military members.
It found that potential exists for the use of evidence-based new and emerging technologies that would help serving and ex-serving ADF members’ self-manage their wellbeing and mental health.
The Mental Health Changes Over Time: a Longitudinal Perspective report examines the shifts in mental health status over a five-year period (2010–2014) in ADF members who have transitioned out of full–time military service compared with ADF members who remain in military service.
Similar to other international military and veteran studies, the results from this report show that most people are in good mental health following discharge from active military service with some, particularly those who remain within the ADF, maintaining good health.
The Impact of Combat report examined the changes over time in the mental, physical and neurocognitive health and wellbeing of the of participants from the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO) Prospective Health Study, who deployed to the MEAO between 2010 and 2012.
This report found that veterans generally experienced poorer mental health compared with those who remained within the ADF.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Stepping Out Attention Reset (SOAR) trial

Open Arms is running the Stepping Out Attention Reset (SOAR) trial nationally.

Participants will be asked to complete a computer-based training program focused on re-balancing attention to threat cues. Each participant will complete a 7 minute training session once a week for four weeks, and then complete an online questionnaire. The trial the complements an existing Stepping Out program that assists ADF personnel to transition from military to civilian life.

To sign up to take part in the trial, visit the SOAR trial website www.soar.phoenixaustralia.org.au, phone 1800 945 089 or email soar-trial@unimelb.edu.au

You can view more information about the training here:

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Media Release- Veteran pensions set to increase

The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
20 March 2019

Veteran pensions set to increase

Pension payments for veterans, their partners, war widows and widowers are set to increase from 20 March 2019.
The first pension paid after payday 28 March 2019 will comprise a component of both the old and new rates. The new pension rates will be fully effective from pension payday 11 April 2019.
The table below highlights the new fortnightly rates.
Service PensionOld rate (fortnightly)New rate
Single person $916.30 $926.20 $9.90
Couples (each) $690.70 $698.10 $7.40
Single person — transitional $768.00 $775.50 $7.50
Couples (each) — transitional $619.60 $625.70 $6.10
War Widows
War widow(er)'s pension $931.50 $941.60 $10.10
Income support supplement $275.40 $278.50 $3.10
Disability Pension
Total and Permanent Incapacity (Special rate) $1,408.00 $1,423.40 $15.40
Intermediate rate $956.00 $966.50 $10.50
Extreme Disablement Adjustment $777.90 $786.50 $8.60
100 per cent $500.60 $506.10 $5.50
10 per cent $56.99 $57.54 $0.55
Veteran Payment Rates
Single person$991.00$1,001.90$10.90
Couples (each)$771.90$780.40$8.50
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, please visit the CLIK website or call 133 254 or 1800 555 254 from regional Australia.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Media Release- Next Repatriation Commissioner

The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
19 March 2019

Senior Australian soldier next Repatriation Commissioner

For the first time, a former Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army has been appointed as the new Repatriation Commissioner with outgoing Commissioner Major General Mark Kelly AO, DSC completing his appointment on 30 June this year.
Minister for Veterans' Affairs Darren Chester today announced Mr Don Spinks AM, who recently retired from the Australian Defence Force with almost 40 years' experience, had been appointed as the new Repatriation Commissioner and as a Member of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission for a period of five years from 1 July 2019.
"Mr Spinks is highly qualified and well-respected, has an impressive military career serving on multiple overseas deployments and has capably represented the concerns and views of soldiers to the Chief of Army and senior leadership over a lengthy period," Mr Chester said.
"As Commissioner, Mr Spinks will be able to use his recent service experience to assist in addressing contemporary issues faced by veterans and their families, I congratulate Mr Spinks on his appointment."
Prior to taking up his full duties on 1 July, Mr Spinks has been appointed a Commissioner on the Repatriation Commission and will receive a comprehensive handover from Major General Kelly who has served on the Commission since 2010.
Mr Chester thanked Major General Kelly for his contribution and invaluable service to the Repatriation Commission and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission since 1 July 2010.
"The work of the Commissions is pivotal in the development of effective policy and programs, and the efficient delivery of services for veterans and their families," Mr Chester said.
"In his almost 10 years, Major General Kelly has achieved a great deal in support of veterans and their families, most recently in advancing Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling, a service that is vitally important to the ex-service community by providing early intervention and longer term mental health treatment services.
"On behalf of the ex-service community, I thank Major General Kelly and wish him all the best for the future."
Mr Spinks served in a number of senior roles during his Army career, including 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Multi National Force and Observers — Sinai Egypt, 1st Brigade, Joint Task Force 633 on Operation Slipper and the Command Sergeant Major Forces Command — Army.
The Repatriation Commission grants pensions and benefits, and provides treatment and other services under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986 to veterans and members of the Australian Defence Force, their partners, widows, widowers and children. The Commission also provides advice to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs on related issues.
Further information about the Commissions and Mr Spinks can be found on the DVA Website.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Statements of Principles Updates

At the meeting of 13 February 2019 the RMA:

Determined Statements of Principles (SOPs) for:

dental malocclusion19/201920/2019
acute articular cartilage tear21/201922/2019
sinus barotrauma23/201924/2019
acute meniscal tear of the knee25/201926/2019
pilonidal sinus27/201928/2019
chronic pruritus ani31/201932/2019
Alzheimer disease33/201934/2019
neurocognitive disorder with Lewy bodies35/201936/2019
Note:• The investigation concerning 'Alzheimer-type dementia' has resulted in the determination of Statements of Principles concerning Alzheimer disease and Statements of Principles concerning neurocognitive disorder with Lewy bodies. 

Determined New Statements of Principles (SOPs) for:

chronic insomnia disorder37/201938/2019
trigger finger39/201940/2019
de Quervain tendinopathy41/201942/2019
Note:• The investigation concerning 'stenosing tenosynovitis (in particular trigger finger/thumb and de Quervain tenosynovitis)' has resulted in the determination of Statements of Principles concerning trigger finger and Statements of Principles concerning de Quervain tendinopathy.

Determined Amendment Statements of Principles (SOPs) for:

subdural haematoma43/201944/2019
The above SOPs take effect from 25 March 2019.

Summary of Changes

Decided to Undertake Consultation regarding:

ConditionReasons for DecisionDate for Final Decision
subarachnoid haemorrhageIntention to remove one or more factorsJune 2019
renal stone diseaseIntention to remove one or more factorsJune 2019

New Investigations

Decided to advertise the following investigations:
  • psoriasis (focussed review - stressors (Balance of Probabilities SOP only))
  • morbid obesity (focussed review - definition of morbid obesity)
The above investigation notices appear in the Government Notices Gazette of 12 March 2019.

Media Release - Anti-Malarial Initiative

The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
15 March 2019

Government commits $2.1 million to anti-malarial initiative

Funding has today been announced for a new $2.1 million initiative to support veterans who are concerned about having taken the anti-malarial drugs mefloquine or tafenoquine.
Minister for Veterans' Affairs Darren Chester said this initiative will be implemented from 1 July 2019, and deliver a national program to concerned veterans with the option to receive a comprehensive health assessment to identify service-related illness, disease and injury.
This initiative responds to concerns heard from veterans during both the recent Senate Inquiry and the mefloquine and tafenoquine consultation forums coordinated across Australia last year.
"The Government is pleased to present to Parliament its response to the Senate Inquiry into the use of Quinoline anti-malarial drugs mefloquine and tafenoquine in the Australian Defence Force (ADF)," Mr Chester said.
"We largely support the views of the Senate Inquiry Committee and its recommendations, and we acknowledge that some current and former ADF personnel have complex health concerns."
The evidence provided to the Inquiry adds to the Government's understanding of how it can further serve and support veterans and their families.
Mr Chester also thanked the individuals and organisations who participated in the Inquiry for their contribution to this important issue.
"I would also like to acknowledge everyone who put forward their views on what is an important issue this Government takes very seriously," Mr Chester said.
"For some it was a difficult process to provide details about their concerns. Should any of these individuals need support, or someone to talk to, Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling provides 24/7, free, confidential, national-wide counselling.
"For those veterans who are who are concerned about having taken the anti-malarial medications mefloquine and tafenoquine or are seeking information about support available, please contact the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA)."
Additionally, the report by the University of Queensland on the Self-reported health of Australian Defence Force personnel after use of anti-malarial drugs on deployment has also been released today.
"This is part of the Government's ongoing efforts to understand the effects of some of these medications used in the Australian Defence Force (ADF)," Mr Chester said.
A copy of the full Government response will shortly be available on the Senate Inquiry website.
The Self-reported health of Australian Defence Force personnel after use of anti-malarial drugs on deployment report is available on the DVA's website.
DVA can be contacted on the designated 1800 MEFLOQUINE (1800 633 567) phone line for support.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Media Release - Advocacy Scoping Study

The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Improvements recommended to Veterans’ Advocacy Services

A report on advocacy services for veterans and their families has identified a number of ways to simplify access to support and services.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the report of the Veterans’ Advocacy and Support Services Scoping Study, conducted by Mr Robert Cornall AO, was an important next step in the ongoing transformation of services for veterans and their families.
The report, which was released today, puts forward 12 recommendations providing a pathway forward on advocacy services. The Minister is seeking feedback from the community before acting on any of the recommendations.
“Mr Cornall identified a number of ways to make it simpler for veterans and their families to gain access to the support and services they deserve, when and where they need them,” Mr Chester said.
“The report’s recommendations address many of the issues I’ve been hearing about as I’ve travelled around Australia meeting with veterans.”
The recommendations build on the excellent work the Advocacy Training and Development Program has done in developing the accredited course in Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Advocacy.
The report, together with the draft recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Veterans’ Compensation and Rehabilitation, provides ideas to support the improvements already under way in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
“No decisions have yet been made about the recommendations as it’s important we take the time to consult with the veteran community. We also need to consider the Productivity Commission’s final report,” Mr Chester said.
“I will continue to host roundtable discussions around the country and I encourage everyone with an interest in the wellbeing of veterans and their families to get involved and have a say.”

Monday, 11 March 2019

Open Arms Group Programs

Open Arms group programs are free education and skills based programs focussed on improving your general mental health and wellbeing.
They are led by experienced facilitators who have extensive knowledge and understanding in supporting the needs and concerns of current and ex-serving personal, and their families.

You can now explore the full range of programs, as well as register your interest online:

Friday, 8 March 2019

DVA Hearing Services

Did you know DVA has a range of hearing services to support members of the veteran community with hearing loss? 

This week is Hearing Awareness Week and is a great time to have your hearing checked. 
Find out more about hearing services and how to apply: 

Monday, 4 March 2019


Do you believe you have developed PTSD during or after your military service?

Help increase the accessibility of treatment options by participating in a trial being conducted in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney and Townsville.

To find out more, email restore@unimelb.edu.au or call 1800 856 824

Thursday, 28 February 2019

DVA Media Release - Community and Peer Program

The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Community and Peer Program to help vulnerable Australian veterans

Following the success of a two-year Community and Peer Pilot in Townsville, Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling will now roll-out their Community and Peer Program across Australia, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said today.
“The Government is putting veterans and their families first and is committed to ensuring that they have access to the mental health support they need,” Mr Chester said.
“The primary aim of the Townsville Community and Peer Pilot was to enhance the management of complex and high-risk clients in the region, particularly vulnerable individuals considered to be at risk of suicide.
“The Pilot demonstrated that ‘lived experience’ mental health peer workers within Open Arms could enhance the management of vulnerable clients.
“Some veterans are reluctant to reach out for help because they are unable to get over the stigma of seeking professional mental health treatment.
“Peers often have a good understanding of the challenges and issues they face, and can help provide a bridge between the veteran community and professional mental health support.
“Rolling out the Community and Peer Program across Australia will provide a new pathway for clients who were previously unlikely to consider accessing or being referred to Open Arms services.
Mr Patrick McGurrin, Chief Executive of Townsville Private Hospital, said “peer support can connect with vulnerable individuals on a more personal level than traditional mental health support programs. This can result in more timely and comprehensive care being provided by specialist mental health services to those in need”.
The Community and Peer Program also assists individuals and families who are currently accessing Open Arms services to connect to other services and initiatives in the veteran community. The Open Arms Peers also support a regional peer network coordinating mentoring and training for other peers working with the veteran community.
The Community and Peer Program will be rolling out to all states and territories throughout 2019.
If you would like to know more about the Community and Peer Program visit the Open Arms website

Monday, 25 February 2019

Online Safety Webinars

Are you an older Australian keen to improve your confidence and skills online? 

Office of the eSafety Commissioner’s Be Connected is hosting free webinars in March and April to help you stay safer online. 
Learn about when to use your mobile data and when to use public Wi-Fi.

SOLDIER ON - Monthly email subscription

Soldier On puts out a monthly newsletter, full of information about upcoming activities happening in your state. 
This includes social activities, when the next coffee catch up is on, courses you can apply for, jobs that are available through their Pledge Partners, as well as information about other services you can access. 

To sign up for this, send your name, state, & email address to: