Welcome to the November/December 2020 edition of e-news

Latest news for veterans | Department of Veterans' Affairs (dva.gov.au)

Welcome to the November/December 2020 edition of e-news, which includes snapshots of articles that you'll find on the Latest News for Veterans page on the DVA website. They include:

NewsSupport available following release of IGADF Afghanistan Inquiry report
DVA services during the holiday season
First Veteran Wellbeing Centre now open
COVID-19Coronavirus Supplement extended to 31 March 2021
Additional Economic Support Payments
Health and wellbeingCompassion, resilience and support
Meet Xena, our newest psychiatric assistance dog
Prime Ministerial Advisory Council on Veterans’ Mental Health
Active Choices: a new physical activity program
TransitionDVA on-base support during Reduced Training Period
CommemorationsLearn, locate, and commemorate – unmarked graves of First World War veterans
Milestone for Second World War record digitisation
General informationAustralia put on a La Nina watch – Are you prepared?
Ex-service organisation newsApply now for community grants to support veterans
Soldier On encourages veteran and family employment
Gallipoli Scholarship Fund applications open
Thank you, from Australia’s Lions Clubs
 
Support available following release of IGADF Afghanistan Inquiry report

Many members of the veteran and Defence community have been understandably concerned by the findings of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry.

If that applies to you, please remember that our focus at DVA is to support your health and wellbeing. So, if you need mental health or medical support, we strongly encourage you to get in touch with us. DVA is not part of any investigation. Our only concern is your wellbeing.

For the full story visit the DVA website.
 
First Veteran Wellbeing Centre now open

Australia’s first Veteran Wellbeing Centre officially opened in Perth in November.

ANZAC House Veteran Central is the first of six Veteran Wellbeing Centres to open across the country, providing localised support for veterans and their families.

Encouraging veterans to achieve greater independence for themselves and their families is a key focus of ANZAC House Veteran Central, and the location will provide a single access point for assistance from government, health services, ex-service organisations and community groups working in partnership to support veteran wellbeing.

For the full story visit the DVA website.
 
Additional
Economic Support Payments

As part of the 2020–21 Budget, the Australian Government is providing two additional Economic Support Payments to continue its support of the Australian community through the coronavirus pandemic.

The one-off payments of $250 each will be automatically paid to around 5 million eligible Australians from 30 November 2020 and from 1 March 2021. The payments are to assist with essential living expenses during this uncertain time.

These payments will be made automatically to the nominated bank account of eligible veterans and their families. 

For the full story visit the DVA website.
 
Meet Xena, our newest psychiatric assistance dog

Xena is the latest psychiatric assistance dog to be partnered with her veteran handler as part of the DVA Psychiatric Assistance Dog program.

The program is available to eligible veterans who are coping with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). An assistance dog can play a big part in helping a veteran manage their mental health and wellbeing.

The program is proving to be very popular. The department has received many requests from veterans seeking a psychiatric assistance dog to support their mental health treatment plan since its announcement in September 2019.

Psychiatric assistance dogs are specially trained to perform tasks that contribute to the clinical recovery goals of their veteran handler, including detecting signs of distress and performing specific tasks to help alleviate those symptoms.

For the full story visit the DVA website.
 
Active choices:
a new physical activity program
 
If you are based in Brisbane, you may be eligible to participate in a new 12-week physical activity program.

DVA wants to help veterans and war widow/ers to age well, and one of the best ways is to stay active. We know it can be hard, so we have engaged the University of Queensland (UQ) to develop and trial a new program called Active Choices that aims to help DVA clients become more physically active and socially connected within their local community.

For the full story visit the DVA website.
 
Learn, locate and commemorate

The Unmarked Graves of First World War Veterans Pilot Program provides funding towards the cost of a grave marker.  

After the First World War, many veterans came back to Australia seeking a quiet life in the country. Thousands took up a Soldier Settler farm, where they often found themselves separated from family. When these veterans passed away, some may have been buried without a funeral or a permanent headstone and were not provided with an official commemoration.

The Australian Government’s Unmarked Graves of First World War Veterans Pilot Program provides funding to individuals, non-commercial organisations or community groups towards the cost of a grave marker on those currently unmarked graves.  

For the full story visit the DVA website.
 
Apply now for
community grants to
support veterans

DVA is committed to putting veterans and their families first. One of the ways we are doing this is by delivering funding to local community organisations through grants.  

Currently, there are two opportunities for ex-service organisations (ESOs), and community organisations that work with ESOs, to apply for funding to provide support and services to veterans. These are:Veteran and Community Grants (V&CG)
Supporting Younger Veterans grants (SYV grants)
Applications for V&CG close on 29 January 2021 
SYV grants close on 5 February 2021. 
For more information or to submit an application, visit Community Grants Hub, call 1800 020 283 or email support@communitygrants.gov.au.
 
Gallipoli Scholarship Fund
applications open

Applications for the Gallipoli Scholarship opened on 1 November and will close on 1 February 2021. The Scholarship is offered by the not-for-profit organisation, the Gallipoli Scholarship Fund.

The Gallipoli Scholarship Fund (GSF) is an Australian not-for-profit organisation established in 1996 to honour the memory and legacy of Australian veterans. It now provides scholarships and bursaries to Australian citizens who are direct descendants of Australian and New Zealand veterans who have served in any conflict or peace operation since the Gallipoli campaign in the First World War. Selected applicants are provided with funding to undertake first-year tertiary study at an approved Australian university or TAFE (the latter at advanced diploma or degree level).

Applications for the Gallipoli Scholarship opened on 1 November 2020 and will close on 1 February 2021. This is due to changed university course offering procedures as a result of COVID-19. 

For the full story, visit the DVA website.
 
Soldier On
encourages veteran and
family employment

The Soldier On Pledge encourages companies to commit to supporting veteran employment opportunities.

The Soldier On Pledge was launched in September at Soldier On’s Robert Poate Centre in Canberra. AeroPM, the winner of the 2020 Outstanding Veterans’ Employer of Year Award, was announced as the first Platinum Pledge Partner.

Fifty organisations have committed to the new Soldier On Pledge since the launch.

Soldier On is a not-for-profit organisation delivering a range of services to enable veterans and their families to thrive. Soldier On’s holistic support services include a range of mental health and wellbeing programs, employment support, and education programs, as well as participation and social connection activities centred around the needs of the Australian veteran community. 

Soldier On Chief Executive Officer Ivan Slavich says more companies need to come on board and recognise the skills acquired by those who have served in the Australian Defence Force. 

For the full story visit the DVA website.
 
DVA services during the holiday season

DVA will continue to provide support to veterans and their families during the holiday season. However, please be aware that some services will be reduced.

As usual, DVA offices and shopfronts, and general enquiry services, will be closed for the Christmas / New Year period from 25 December 2020 through to 3 January 2021.

The Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling phone line is available to support members of the current and ex-service community and their families 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Phone 1800 011 046 (toll-free from landlines and most mobiles).

Safe Zone Support is an anonymous counselling line available 24/7 to support members of the current and ex-service community and their families. Phone 1800 142 072 (toll-free from landlines and most mobiles).

If you require urgent assistance, please call 000. If you are unwell, please contact your local doctor or go to your nearest hospital.

Short-term crisis accommodation is available for eligible individuals at risk of domestic violence or homelessness. Please phone 1800 011 046 or visit openarms.gov.au.

For further mental health information and support, visit openarms.gov.au where you will also find a range of calming and coping strategies.

For the full story visit the DVA website.
 
Coronavirus Supplement extended to 31 March 2021

The Australian Government has extended the Coronavirus Supplement to 31 March 2021. The current payment rate of $250 per fortnight will change to $150 per fortnight from 1 January 2021 to 31 March 2021. 

This change will affect payments from 14 January 2021, pending the passage of legislation. 

The Coronavirus Supplement is paid to new and existing recipients of certain Services Australia payments such as JobSeeker and Youth Allowance, as well as certain DVA Education Schemes recipients.

Students who receive Veterans’ Children Education Scheme and MRCA Education and Training Scheme payments at similar rates to students on Youth Allowance receive the Coronavirus Supplement. These include students aged 16 and over receiving education allowance at any rate, and those receiving education allowance at the living away from home, homeless or double orphan rate.

The Coronavirus Supplement will continue to be automatically added to existing eligible students’ regular payments, and will be applied to the payments of any new eligible recipients.

For the full story visit the DVA website.
 
Compassion, resilience, support

The past year has presented many challenges for our veteran community – leaving some feeling anxious and unsure about what the New Year will bring. 

The bushfires, coronavirus pandemic, and recent release of the IGADF Afghanistan Inquiry findings have all impacted our lives in some way, and Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling has seen a 35% increase in counselling sessions across the country. 

Service in the ADF brings a unique set of challenges – both for those who serve and for those who support them. It also brings opportunities to learn first-hand the importance of resilience, mateship and compassion, and other skills we can use to strengthen our own wellbeing and to assist others in times of uncertainty. 

For the full story visit the DVA website.
 
 
Prime Ministerial
Advisory Council on
Veterans' Mental Health
The Prime Ministerial Advisory Council on Veterans’ Mental Health advises the Prime Minister on the unique mental health issues affecting veterans and their families. 

Members of the Council have a range of expertise and lived experience. They include veterans, current serving Defence members, families of serving and ex-serving members, and health care professionals. This experience allows the Council to represent the veteran community, and advise the Government on how best to support veterans and their families to serve, live and age well. 

The last regular meeting of the Council was 12 November 2020. This was the first meeting for a number of new members of the Council. The summary of that meeting and full membership list can be found on the Council’s website. 

For the full story visit the DVA website.
 
DVA on-base support during Reduced Training Period

Veteran Support Officers services will be modified during December and January to focus on upcoming ADF member transitions.

DVA Veteran Support Officers (VSO) deliver personalised support to ADF members on 56 bases around Australia.

In line with Defence’s Reduced Training Period, VSO services will be modified from 14 December 2020 to 17 January 2021 to focus on delivering support to ADF members transitioning in the next six months. Normal VSO services will recommence on Monday 18 January 2021.

All ADF members requiring DVA support, or a better understanding of the support available, are encouraged to request a VSO appointment by emailing vso@dva.gov.au and a DVA officer will respond to schedule a suitable time and base location.

Counselling support is available to you and your family if required. Open Arms provides free and confidential counselling and support for current and former serving ADF members and their families. They can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 011 046 or visit the Open Arms website for more information. 

For further information on the services and support provided through DVA, please call 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).
 
Milestone for
Second World War
record digitisation

The National Archives of Australia has signed contracts worth $4.4 million for the digitisation of more than 650,000 Second World War service records.

Contractors Fuji Xerox BusinessForce Pty Ltd and W&F Pascoe Pty Ltd will digitise records from the two largest Second World War series, with new digitised material available free of charge on the National Archive’s website from as early as this month.

More than 220,000 service records are already digitised and are available on the website.

National Archives Director-General David Fricker said the contracts marked a milestone in the four-year, $10 million project to digitise the majority of Second World War records.  

For the full story visit the DVA website.
 
Australia put on a La Nina watch – are you prepared?

Advice from DSH Insurance on dealing with heavy rainfall and tropical cyclones into early 2021.

Earlier in the year, the Bureau of Meteorology declared that a La Niña event had developed in the Pacific Ocean, which would bring more rainfall across much of Australia through Spring, and more tropical cyclones in the country’s north. While a La Niña usually lasts for between 9 and 12 months, the previous one lasted longer (2010–2012), bringing with it the wettest two years on record. 

Climate models indicate the La Niña is likely to persist until at least the early part of 2021, bringing heavy rain, high winds and hail, causing potential damage to homes, affecting families and finances. 

To assist you, DSH Insurance has developed the Natural Disasters – Homeowners Information Pack, which includes a Household Evacuation kit, and useful links for emergency situations.

For the full story visit the DVA website.
 
Thank you, from
Australia's Lions Clubs

by David Triffett – Lions Australia National Chairperson

The Lions Clubs of Australia wish to acknowledge and thank our country’s Defence Force for their service to us all over many years.

We admire and respect those who have served and we remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to allow us to live in this country we love.

The Lions Clubs of Australia extend a hand of friendship and support to all our service men and women, both serving and ex-serving. We welcome you to join us, share our passion for service to our community and build our communities.

Come and join in for a gathering of club members, a working bee or a social activity. You will be most welcome. Share your stories and experiences with our members.

If you would like to catch up with a Lions Club near you, contact our National Office on either 02 4940 8033 or email LionsOpenArms@lions.org.au. We will find a Lions Club near you and make an introduction to meet our Club members. You can also visit our website.

Thank you for your service. We too are proud Australians … let’s work together.