VAC Outcomes

2018 Veterans Advisory Council Members. From left to right, Miss Chantelle Bohan, Ms Paula Dabovich, Mr James O’Hanlon, Ms Margot Forster, LTCOL Paul Graham, Mr Leon Eddy, Mr Laurie Lewis (Chair), Mr Chris Burns, Ms Sharon Mascall Dare, Ms Sally Heidenreich, Ms Karen May, CMDR Andrew Burnett, GPCAPT Brendan Rogers and Mr Rob Manton (Executive Officer).  Absent:  Ms Helen Meyer, Mr Michael von Ber, Mr Bronson Horan and Mr Frank Lampard.

A Veterans’ Advisory Council (VAC) meeting was held on Thursday 11 October 2018.  The meeting commenced with a tribute to the late Mr Bill Corey OAM, who sadly passed away in the early hours of Wednesday 10 October 2018.

The VAC received a briefing from the Hon John Dawkins MLC, Premier’s Advocate for Suicide Prevention on the State Government’s efforts to tackle South Australia’s suicide rate.  The Premier’s Suicide Prevention Council is led by Mr Dawkins and aims to build on the vital work of the Suicide Prevention Networks that have been set up in council areas across the state.  Mr Dawkins informed the VAC that South Australia’s suicide rate is currently above the national average.

The reduction in the rate of suicide is an issue of great importance to the veteran community, and in recognition of this, one of the 13 members of the Premier’s Council on Suicide Prevention is Australian Defence Force veteran, Mr Chad McLaren.  Mr Dawkins said he was keen to hear from members of the VAC about their experiences and suggestions on improvements to policy and services that will reduce the impact of suicide in metropolitan areas and regional and rural communities.

The VAC also received a briefing from Karen May, Associate Director of the Australian Centre of Excellence for PTS and Strategic Manager – The Road Home.  Karen is a member of the VAC.  The Road Home (formerly The Repat Foundation) is a subsidiary of The Hospital Research Foundation.

The Road Home raises awareness and funds to provide health and wellbeing research and programs into conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress for the nation’s veterans, emergency service personnel and their families and convenes the Australian Centre of Excellence for Post-Traumatic Stress – the national collaborative research hub co-located at the new PTSD specialist acute and outpatient hospital called The Jamie Larcombe Centre. The Road Home funds a national grant program of over $600,000 per annum.

The Road Home is currently funding the Canberra Trauma Network and initiatives to develop research and programs with the University of Canberra, James Cook in Townsville and new projects in Darwin.  The Road Home has a Wellbeing Program refines models of care and wellbeing for veterans, emergency service personnel and their families.  The program engages individuals and their families through peer support into health and wellbeing programs such as arts in health and art therapy, weekly physical and social activities, family days, leading edge research treatment trials and programs, trauma health care pathways and other self-development and employment pathways.

The Invictus Pathways Program is a joint collaboration between The Road Home and the University of South Australia – Health Services Department.  This program links with community resources to provide a training ground for new experiences, new active interests and goals from wheelchair basketball, swimming and cycling to archery and powerlifting.  The program also links with performance goals and supports members to achieve selection for events such as the Invictus games, Warrior Games and local National and Regional events.

VAC members also received a briefing on preparations for the Centenary of Armistice on 11 November 2018.  One of the outcomes of the Veterans Ministers’ Round Table held on 8 November 2017 was that the Ministers agreed to mark the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day in 2018 with a nation-wide campaign to acknowledge a minute’s silence at 11.00am.  There have been three meetings of an Armistice Working Group consisting of over 30 interested stakeholders on 1 August, 22 August & 19 September 2018.  The next meeting will be held on Wednesday 24 October 2018.  Veterans SA has published a list of known Centenary of Armistice events via the website.

Other matters considered by the VAC included:

  • Conditions at RAAF Base Woomera
  • Commonwealth State & Territory Committee – 4 October 2018
  • Veterans Ministers’ Round Table – 27 October 2018
  • VAC Membership 2019
  • South Australia’s Ex-Service Commemorative Calendar 2019
  • Partnerships Hub Report
  • Relocation of Australasian Soldiers Dardanelles Cenotaph
  • Vietnam Veterans Federation Relocation – Official Opening, 2.00pm, 14 December 2018
  • Invictus Games

The next VAC meeting will be held on Thursday 6 December 2018.  Please contact Paul Sykes at or via telephone: (08) 8226 8552 if you would like any further information.