VAC Members for 2018

The composition of the Veterans’ Advisory Council (VAC) for 2018 was settled by Minister Hamilton-Smith and the appointments were noted by State Cabinet 7 December, 2017.

Brigadier Laurie Lewis AM has been appointed as the Chair of the VAC for the next two years.

Brigadier Lewis was appointed as an inaugural member of the VAC in 2009 and has a wealth of experience to bring to the role of Chair.  Laurie’s appointment has received widespread support across the veteran community.

Four members from the VAC stood down at the end of 2017:

  • Brigadier Tim Hanna AM
  • Dr Pamela Schulz OAM
  • Mr Ray Kemp
  • Group Captain Darren Goldie AM CSC

Veterans SA and Minister Hamilton-Smith are grateful for their contribution on behalf of the veteran community and wish them well for the future. The outgoing members will be recognised at a reception to acknowledge the VAC at Parliament House on Tuesday, 6 February, 2018.

Four new members have been appointed to the VAC for 2018, they are:

  • Major Sally Heidenreich
  • Ms Karen May
  • Ms Margot Forster CSM
  • Group Captain Brendan Rogers CSC

Biographies for the newly appointed Chair and members appear below.

Brigadier Laurie Lewis AM (Retd)

Brigadier Lewis served for 32 years in the Australian Regular Army.  During that time he saw active service as an infantry officer with the Royal Australian Regiment in Malaya and South Vietnam.

Brigadier Lewis subsequently became the General Manager of the Aged Care and Housing Group from 1984-1996, and was Chairman of the Repatriation General Hospital between 1993-2005.

Since 2006, Brigadier Lewis has been Chairman of the Consultative Council of Ex-Service Organisations which represents 26 ex-service organisations in South Australia.

Brigadier Lewis is also a Patron of the Royal Australian Regiment Association (SA Branch) Inc. and the Guards Association, Vice-Patron of the Association of Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Ex-Servicemen and Women (SA Branch) Inc. He has served as an adviser to the War Widow’s Guild of Australia (S.A. Branch) Inc., a member of the Veterans’ Review Board, the Veterans Health Advisory Council and the Ministerial Advisory Board on Ageing.

In 2006, Brigadier Lewis was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for service to veterans as an administrator of aged care and health services, as an adviser to state and national ex-service welfare groups, and through support for charitable organisations.

Major Sally Heidenreich

Sally Heidenreich was commissioned as an officer of the Australian Regular Army on 19 January 2001. On her graduation from Duntroon, Sally joined the Australian Intelligence Corps.

During her full-time career Sally deployed to Iraq in 2005/6 as the Information Operations officer with the second Al-Muthanna Task Group, and to Iraq a second time in 2008 in an independent counterintelligence role, from where she was later redeployed to Afghanistan. In 2009/10 Sally deployed again to Afghanistan as the Officer-in-Charge of the Fusion and Targeting Cell with the ninth rotation of the Special Operations Task Group, in which role she was responsible for the dynamic prosecution of insurgent targets.

Sally transferred to the Army Reserves in 2011 and embarked on an undergraduate Law degree at the University of Adelaide. In 2013 Sally completed part of her degree at the Chuo University Graduate School of Law in Tokyo as the recipient of a Prime Minister’s Endeavour Award, studying the impact of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution – the “Renunciation of War” clause – on Australia-Japan bilateral security relations.

In 2014 Sally deployed on Operation Southern Indian Ocean as the Liaison Officer and interpreter for the Japanese P-3 contingent assisting with the maritime search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370.

Sally is now a practising disputes lawyer with Lipman Karas, a specialist international litigation firm.

Ms Karen May

Karen May is Executive General Manger of The Road Home for further research and programs to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for current and ex-serving veterans, emergency services and their families.

As the major philanthropic funder of independent research in this area in Australia, The Road Home convenes the new PTS research partnerships hub to create a centre of excellence at the new Jamie Larcombe Centre.

Prior to work with the Road Home, Karen’s career has been working predominantly in the Social justice / Not-for-profit sector working to develop organisations from fundraising brand and performance to best practice, high impact service provision.

Karen’s major posts in recent years have been with Can Do Group Charities, Connecting Up, and Birthing Kit Foundation Australia. Early in her career, before returning to Adelaide, Karen pursued community development, social impact measurement, crime prevention and sustainability projects in the Philippines and major cities in Australia.

Karen also enjoys a busy family life with her partner Mark and together they raise their 4 kids, 15 to 7 years old.

Ms Margot Forster CSM

Ms Forster joined the Defence Teaming Centre as Chief Executive Officer in December 2016 after a long and distinguished career in the Australian Defence Force.

Born in Adelaide, Ms Forster joined the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in August 1982. On graduation from the RAN Naval College and completion of Supply Officer training, she undertook a number of Supply Officer roles ashore and at sea before transferring to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in late 1988.

Ms Forster took a three year leave of absence from the RAAF in 1992 and worked as Senior Administrator with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the Australian Embassy, Washington DC. In May 1995 Ms Forster returned to the RAAF to work in Air Force Materiel Division.

Over the next ten years Ms Forster specialised in organisational reform and design, and workforce transition, supporting a number of workforce reform projects including the Chief of Air Force’s Rebalance and Reshape Program. January 2007 saw Ms Forster’s focus shift to combat support when she was appointed as the Base Commander RAAF Base Williams and Commanding Officer Combat Support Unit Williams, for which she was awarded a Conspicuous Service Medal on the 2009 Queens Birthday Honours List.

In 2009, Ms Forster joined Aerospace Operational Support Group as the Staff Officer Personnel, and later the Chief of Staff. Ms Forster deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations in November 2010 as the Commanding Officer Combat Support Unit, Al Minhad Air Base. Her efforts on this deployment saw her awarded a Chief of Joint Operations Gold Commendation for ‘contribution to significant improvements to support for forces engaged in combat operations’. Other awards include commendations from the Chief of Air Force and Assistant Chief of Materiel – Air Force for her contribution to workforce reform and for project management.

In May 2012 Ms Forster was promoted to Group Captain and appointed as Director, Pathway to Change. In this position she was responsible for coordination, reporting and oversight of Pathway to Change implementation within Air Force. Ms Forster served in this role until January 2013 when she took up the position of Chief of Staff Air Force Personnel Branch. Ms Forster is a graduate of the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies (2015), with a Masters of Arts in Strategic Studies. Ms Forster was promoted and appointed to the post of Commandant, Australian Command and Staff College in December 2015 before retiring from the Air Force in December 2016 to take up the position of CEO of the Defence Teaming Centre.

Group Captain Brendan Rogers CSC

GPCAPT Brendan ‘Buck’ Rogers joined the RAAF in 1987 through the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra. He undertook No. 155 Pilot’s Course at Point Cook and Pearce, gaining his Wings in 1991 to fly MB‑326H Macchi jet trainers before completing P‑3C Orion operational conversion at RAAF Edinburgh.

His operational experience span a wide variety of intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and electronic warfare missions including regional crises in the South West Pacific and active service during the Timor and Iraq campaigns. GPCAPT Rogers has completed two tours of the Middle East, first in 2005 as the Australian Maritime ISR Liaison Officer to US Navy Maritime Patrol in Bahrain, and in 2017 as Commander of Task Unit 630.1 for the conduct of Strike, Command and Control and air refuelling air operations in Iraq and Syria.

His staff roles include service at Joint Operations Command and Air Command. There he planned domestic security operations spanning Counter-Terrorism, Emergency Management and Surveillance and Response operations. As Director Operations and Plans at Headquarters Air Command, he completed structural reform of Air Command planning processes for air operations and training.

GPCAPT Rogers has had extensive involvement in RAAF airborne electronic warfare capabilities, completing several tours on acceptance test and evaluation activities in the USA before leading deployment of these new capabilities on joint operations and exercises.

GPCAPT Rogers holds a Bachelor of Science and a Graduate Diploma of Management in Defence Studies. He has flown over 4,500 hours and was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in 2014 for outstanding achievement in the delivery of airborne Electronic Warfare Capability for the RAAF. GPCAPT Rogers is married to Sarah and they have three school-age children. He assumed his current role as Chief of Staff to the Air Warfare Centre at RAAF Edinburgh in April 2017.

The re-appointed members of the VAC for 2018 are:

  • Commander Andrew Burnett ADC RAN
  • Colonel Chris Burns CSC
  • Ms Paula Dabovich
  • Mr Leon Eddy
  • Ms Chantelle Bohan
  • Lieutenant Colonel Paul Graham DSM
  • Mr Bronson Horan
  • Mr Frank Lampard OAM
  • Dr Sharon Mascall-Dare
  • Mrs Helen Meyer
  • Mr James O’Hanlon
  • Mr Michael von Berg MC OAM

The VAC is expected to meet on six occasions in 2018:

  • Thursday, 8 February, 2018
  • Thursday, 12 April, 2018
  • Thursday, 14 June, 2018
  • Thursday, 9 August, 2018
  • Thursday, 11 October, 2018
  • Thursday, 6 December, 2018

For more information about the VAC or to suggest an agenda item for the next meeting on 8 February, 2018, please call Paul Sykes on 8226 8552 or email: