January 2018

Welcome to the new-look DVA e-news, featuring an update on the Morning Star tapestry, pictured above and now on display at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne ahead of its installation at the soon-to-open Sir John Monash Centre in France. Also in this issue:
bullet Michael McCormack’s appointment as Minister for Veterans’ Affairs 
bullet The 25th anniversary of Operation Solace in Somalia 
bullet VVCS's next community webinar to examine peer support 
bullet The impact of superannuation splitting on incapacity payments 
bullet A new online directory of advocacy services 
bullet Vetaffairs Summer edition now online 

Tapestry on show at Shrine ahead of journey to France

Morning Star, an Australian-made tapestry created to hang in the Sir John Monash Centre in France, will be on public display at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne until 25 February 2018.

The tapestry, like the Sir John Monash Centre itself, commemorates the service of Australians in the First World War and the 46,000 Australian lives lost on the Western Front.

It depicts a pathway through eucalypt trees and bush towards dawn light, and features inset images of war-bound ships departing Australia along with young men who were about to enlist.

Designed by Australian war artists Lyndell Brown and Charles Green and brought to life by Australian Tapestry Workshop weavers over almost 4,000 hours, Morning Star was created using manual techniques that have been used in Europe since the 15th Century. Australian wool, sourced from sustainable producers, was dyed on-site into more than 370 different colours, shades and tones for use in the 5 x 2.5 metre work.  

The designers have worked collaboratively since 1989 and travelled to Afghanistan and the Middle East as official war artists to the Australian War Memorial in 2007. They say the tapestry depicts the journey of young Australians to the Western Front, communicating ‘the places for which the Australians fought and the imaginary spaces they carried with them’. 

Morning Star will be transported to its permanent home in France following its exhibition at the Shrine. The Sir John Monash Centre will open in April.

Marking 25th anniversary of Operation Solace in Somalia

A series of commemorative events and reunions will be held in coming months to mark the 25th anniversary of Operation Solace, Australia’s 199394 major commitment to peacekeeping operations in Somalia.

NSW Governor David Hurley AC DSC, who was in command of the Army’s 
1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR) in Somalia, will host a reception at Government House in Sydney on 26 April 2018 to mark the anniversary. He will lead members of units who deployed to Somalia in 1993 in the Anzac Day Parade the day before (see www.1rar.asn.au/news/7680 for registration details).

The Australian Government has provided nearly $29,000 in funding to assist with commemorations of the peacekeeping operations including a 1RAR reunion function in Townsville on 17 May (see www.1rar.asn.au/events/140114 for more information).

Operation Solace was a response to a call in late 1992 from the United Nations for assistance with its humanitarian operation in Somalia, where a humanitarian disaster was being compounded by a complete breakdown in civil order. Australia had already contributed a tri-service contingent to the UN Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) under Operation Iguana, but Operation Solace was of a very different magnitude.

The Australian contribution to peacekeeping in Somalia comprised more than 1,500 personnel. Australia sent personnel from each of the three services to UNOSOM between October 1992 and November 1994 and personnel to serve under the auspices of the Unified Task Force, with the main body arriving in Somalia in January 1993. 

Four Australians were wounded or injured during operations and on 2 April 1993, Lance Corporal Shannon McAliney was accidentally killed.

Read a Q&A with then Corporal Lance Johnson (pictured above) about his deployment in Somalia in 1993 on the Anzac Centenary website.

Advocacy services directory
now available online

Looking for someone to help you with accessing DVA benefits and services? An online directory of organisations that offer accredited military advocacy services is now available on the Advocacy Training and Development Program (ATDP) website.

Military advocates provide assistance and advice to current and former members of the Australian Defence Force and their families. Military compensation advocates provide guidance and assistance with submitting claims to DVA for pensions, compensation and rehabilitation. Military welfare advocates help clients to access the entitlements, benefits and support available from DVA, other government agencies and community-based service providers.

The Advocacy Training and Development Program (ATDP) provides accreditation for qualified military advocates who have professional skills and experience that meet nationally-recognised standards.

This accreditation provides assurance that advocates are qualified to provide advice and assistance that meets the specific needs of veterans and their families, no matter where they live or when they served.

The new directory provides contact details for ex-service organisations offering accredited advocates. You can search the directory by town, suburb, state or postcode to find the organisation closest to you. When you contact the organisation, be sure to ask for an ‘ATDP Accredited Military Advocate’.

The Directory of Advocacy Services is available on the ATDP website.

McCormack appointed
Minister for Veterans' Affairs

Member for Riverina the Hon Michael McCormack MP succeeded Member for Wannon the Hon Dan Tehan MP as Minister for Veterans’ Affairs on 20 December 2017.

Mr McCormack, who had served as Minister for Small Business since the 2016 election, said he was proud to be taking on the role among other new portfolios.

It is an honour to be appointed Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Minister for Defence Personnel, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of the ANZAC and Deputy Leader of the House, Mr McCormack said.

As someone who has a passionate interest in military history, I look forward to getting on with the job of advocating for Australia's servicemen and women, and our veterans.

Mr McCormack has produced a commemorative Anzac Day booklet for residents of his electorate each year since entering Parliament in 2011, as a meaningful acknowledgment of the men and women who have served our nation.

The former newspaper editor and small businessman served as Assistant Minister for Defence in the lead-up to the 2016 federal election. He lives in Wagga Wagga, NSW, which is home to the Army Recruit Training Centre at Blamey Barracks, Kapooka and RAAF Base Wagga, as well as many retired servicemen and women.

Mr Tehan, now Minister for Social Services, paid tribute to veterans on his departure from the portfolio.

From our oldest living veterans of World War II to the current personnel I met on operations in Iraq, I have been humbled by them and their service, he said.

VVCS community webinar to
focus on peer support

The next Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) community webinar, to be held on Wednesday 31 January, 7pm–8pm AEST, is entitled Peer Support – the value of mates.

It will examine the importance for
recovery from service-related trauma of connecting with those who have had similar Australian Defence Force (ADF) experiences .

Townsville-based VVCS Peer Advisor Timothy Loch will join VVCS National Advisory Council Chair Professor Jane Burns and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) expert Dr Mark Creamer on the panel.

Mr Loch served in the ADF between 2004 and 2014 as a combat engineer, and completed deployments to East Timor and Afghanistan. He transitioned out after being wounded in an improvised explosive blast in Afghanistan.

The panellists will share resources to allow participants to help friends, family and colleagues experiencing challenging personal times.

Upcoming VVCS community webinars will examine military transition, suicide prevention, families, anger and chronic pain.

The last webinar of 2017, entitled Exercise and Wellbeing – a healthy mind and body, remains available on the VVCS website along with earlier sessions on military PTSD and sleep disturbance. They also appear on VVCS’s playslist on the DVA YouTube channel.

Register and submit questions for the Peer Support webinar.

Incapacity payments affected by superannuation splitting

Some DVA clients whose superannuation payments are split with an ex-spouse may be affected by a change in the way the Department calculates incapacity payments.
Incapacity payments are now reduced by the amount of Commonwealth-funded superannuation benefit an individual receives in the hand rather than the amount of superannuation the client received prior to the split.  Any of the superannuation that is paid directly to an ex-spouse (by way of a separate member benefit) is not considered to be received by the client and is not held in calculations of incapacity payments.

Incapacity payments are payable under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA) as compensation for an incapacity for work due to a service-related injury or disease.

Incapacity payments are reduced by the Commonwealth-funded component of superannuation clients receive (if any). After a relationship breakdown the amount of superannuation an individual receives may be reduced as a result of some of the superannuation benefit being paid directly to an ex-spouse under superannuation splitting laws.

For further information please call 1800 555 254 or email generalenquiries@dva.gov.au.

Vetaffairs Summer edition

The Summer edition of Vetaffairs is online now, featuring the By the Left campaign which aims to prevent the questioning of women veterans over the placement of their medals; an update on DVA's trial online claims application, MyService; a feature on widows working to raise awareness of issues around service-related suicide; and 2018 Young Queenslander of the Year Phillip Thompson on the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards.
Copyright © 2018 Australian Government Department of Veterans' Affairs, All rights reserved.
Vetaffairs is published as a free newspaper for Australia's veteran community.

Our mailing address is:
GPO Box 9998 Brisbane, Queensland 4001



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