100th Anniversary of the Repatriation Commission 2017-18

Senator Millen was appointed Australia’s first Minister for Repatriation in 1917. Despite facing fierce criticism from Parliament and the press, he became an important figure in Australia’s war effort and has been described as the most significant contributor to the development of repatriation in Australia. (DVA306782)

Later this month, on 28 September 2017, marks 100 years since the appointment of the first Minister for Repatriation and 8 April 2018 will mark the 100th Anniversary of the Department of Repatriation, the forerunner to the Commonwealth Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).

When Australia went to war in 1914, Senator Edward Davis Millen, as Defence Minister, proposed a plan to create a government-funded war pensions scheme. With no other model to follow, Senator Millen designed an entirely new system that encompassed healthcare, compensation, soldier settlement, and vocational training to help returned men find work.

Nearly a century after its inception the fundamental aims of DVA remain closely aligned to those that the first Repatriation Minister believe so important, these being:

  • To provide sustenance to those veterans who need assistance
  • To ameliorate the impact and effects of their service, and
  • To do our utmost to reinstate them to their place in the community, whether as a serving member or in civilian life.

The Repatriation Commission of present day grants pensions and benefits, and provides treatment and other services under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) to veterans and members of the Australian Defence Force, their partners, widows/ers, and children. The Commission also provides advice to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs on related issues.

To recognise these significant milestones DVA is planning a number of activities and events in each of the states and territories involving departmental staff and key target audiences (including Ex Service Organisations) to recognise the achievements of Australia’s repatriation system, and also to look to the future.

DVA is preparing three publications to mark its 100th Anniversary. These are:

  • an eBook version of the current edition of The Last Shilling: A history of Repatriation in Australia
  • a second volume of The Last Shilling covering 1994-2011, as an eBook
  • a medium-format soft cover illustrated history of the Repatriation Commission/DVA

Details of specific events to celebrate this significant milestone will be communicated later in the year.

In May 2017 Major General Mark Kelly AO DSC was reappointed as the Repatriation Commissioner for a further period of two years, a role he has held since 1 July, 2010

Major General Kelly served in a number of senior command appointments during his 35 year Army career, including Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment; Commander 3rd Brigade; Commander 1st Division; Land Commander Australia; and Commander Joint Task Force 633 (CJTF 633).

His operational experience includes service with the Commonwealth Monitoring Force in Zimbabwe/Rhodesia (1979–80), Chief of Staff of INTERFET in East Timor (1990–2000), with US CENTCOM in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and Iraq (2003–04) and as CJTF 633, commanding all ADF elements in the Middle East Area of Operations, Iraq and Afghanistan (2009–10).

The Repatriation Commissioner has special responsibility for representing the views of the ex-service community to the Commission and plays a key role in managing the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS), Applied Research Program, National Consultative Forums, commemorative grants and commemorative activities.


A Message From Your DVA Deputy Commissioner Janice Silby April 2017