- Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel
- Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel
A Royal Commission into the Veteran suicide rate in Australia
This is my much-loved son, David. David loved his 20-year career in the Royal Australian Navy. On February 1 2019, my David took his own life after a crippling battle with Post-Traumatic Stress injury. He desperately wanted to stay alive, but David was failed by a broken system that is seeing more than one veteran a week take their own life. More than one death a week. That’s why I am calling for an urgent Royal Commission into veteran suicide rates. This petition is about the systemic failures the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), who had numerous opportunities to save my son and they failed. David was just one of too many veterans losing their battle with PTSD. This failure has created a whole new warzone for our veterans, one they can’t come home from. The people at ADF and DVA want to help, but their hands are tied by protocols and procedures. They are bogged down in paperwork and do nothing for the well-being of those that seek their help. Since WWI, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters and families and friends have been asking for a Royal Commission into the systemic failures that result in the suicide of our veterans. I don't want to be the mother that fights for a Royal Commission and I don't want to be the mother that has lost her child, but in their own words: my hands are tied. I will not stop until we see action by our Government. I owe it not only to my amazing son, David but to all veterans and their families. This is a national tragedy, and something needs to be done about it. I call on the Australian Government to establish a Royal Commission with wide terms of reference to examine and make recommendations regarding the Australian Veteran suicide rate and what can be done in practical terms to address this tragic situation. If you agree that this is a national crisis that needs to end - please, sign and share this petition. Julie-Ann Finney, proud mother of Dave Stafford Finney. If you or someone you know needs help, please phone Lifeline on 131 114, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. This petition was originally started by Phil Essam.
Australian Defence Force Members Killed-In-Service
Award a medallic CLASP on their campaign or service medal to complete their story of personal service and sacrifice.All ADF personnel killed on war-like, non-war like operations and/or during general service should have that ultimate sacrifice reflected on their medals. Any symbolic gesture that is not directly linked to the ADF member’s service medals would not complete their service history and would also significantly detract from making the distinction of an ADF member who has made sacrifice in service. A medallic clasp could be worn on the Australian Defence Medal (ADM), a campaign medal, or other appropriate medal to meet the objective of this campaign. These medals are already in service, and have already been subject to a broad public awareness strategy. Australia’s honours and awards system celebrates the sporting achievements of athletes and those who have excelled in academia and community service, along with everyday citizens who risk their lives for others. These awards tell the story of that person’s significant contribution to society. Defence families are honoured with a Remembrance Pin in acknowledgement of their sacrifices. Australian Defence Force (ADF) Members too receive medals, citations, clasps and commendations to tell the story of where they served and for how long. BUT of those Killed, Injured or Wounded in service or as a result of service, we do not officially personalise their sacrifice or conclude their record of service on their medals. And it is those medals that tell the story of their service and sacrifices for the Nation. Acknowledging their Personal Sacrifice is the Right thing to do! The medallic clasp seeks to establish recognition for the sacrifices of ALL the fallen— 102,911 names of ADF personnel who have died in service to Australian units. Many are listed on the Australian War Memorial, and could include those recipients of DVA ‘accepted health conditions’ cardholders (for wounded and injured in service). The issue of a medallic clasp is a standard process in the ADF and prevents commentators from using cost as a justification to prohibit its introduction, or limit the number of ADF members eligible to receive recognition. It is a more logical approach than striking a ‘new medal’ that would require extensive marketing, exuberant cost, and gazetting into policy around honours and awards. Cost is important to this conversation as the cost savings could be better used to support other Defence and Veteran related causes. __________________CALL for ACTION ______________________________ Please write to the Minister to express your support and include a return address for a response. The Hon. Darren Chester MPMinister of Veteran AffairsEmail: email@example.com Example: "I would like the Australian Government to award a Killed-in-Service (KIS) CLASP (or other category clasp) on the campaign medal or on the most appropriate service medal of all Australian Defence Force (ADF) members killed on war-like, non-war like operations and/or during general service.(I would also like to see medallic recognition for those wounded and injured in service (DVA ‘accepted health conditions’ cardholders), and First Responders Killed-In-Service. ” *Be sure to sign your name, address, contact number, email address, date. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------About the Petitioner The campaign to recognise those Killed-In-Service, injured and wounded was the initiative of Warrant Officer Class 1 (Rtd) Kerry Danes, CSM to honour fallen comrades in the Australian Defence Force and First Responders who have been Killed-In-Service and injured in the line of duty. Why a CLASP and not a new medal? A medallic clasp worn on the Australian Defence Medal (ADM), or campaign or other appropriate medal (pre-dating the ADM), offers the greatest flexibility, and most cost-effective approach to date, and the much-needed sensitivity in defining the categorisation relating to ADF service and sacrifice. The CLASP is the concept of Kerry Danes but the artwork was produced by Mr. Ben Doyle Cox, CEO/Director of Platypus Outdoors Group Pty Ltd. His support is greatly appreciated. Any other symbolic gesture to recognise the supreme sacrifice of an ADF member that is not directly linked to their service medals is not appropriate and nor would it complete that service history. Why the Wattle?The wattle is our national floral emblem linked to the Australian Bravery Association, the Order of Australia awards system and the highest office of the land - our Governor General, so it holds an appropriately prestigious place in the life of our nation. Our Numbers Original petition at Causes.com has over 31,543 signatures. https://www.causes.com/causes/204480-australian-national-campaign-recognising-defence-members-first-responders-killed-in-service Combined we have close to 45,000 signatures supporting this campaign (as at 22/04/18). Background (History): https://www.defencelivesmatter.com/killed-in-serviceMay 2021 Update: The Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal panel are currently considering two specific DATES to recognise the deaths of Australian members resulting from honourable military service with Australian units. You can still be part of this process by participating in our Poll: https://www.defencelivesmatter.com/thepoll
Demand freedom for an Afghani interpreter who assisted the Allies
Assisting Allied troops and NGOs as a volunteer in Afghanistan was not likely to win him any awards, in a country ruled by a hierarchy deeply suspicious of Western influence. “Peter”, a caring teacher, husband and father, offered his services as an interpreter to international military personnel who used the nearby highway regularly as a thoroughfare. Once his behaviour was noticed by the Taliban, he began to be targeted, and realising that his life may be at risk, he fled the country. Upon Peter’s arrival in Australia, he was detained, but he was eventually found to be owed protection due to his work as an interpreter for Allied troops, and he was granted a visa and was released into the community. Unfortunately, the bridging visa he received had no work rights, rendering him unable to support himself in Australia, or his family back home in Afghanistan – left as the head of the household back home, Peter’s wife struggled to take care of their young family. Desperate, Peter blindly acted and committed a crime which would have him thrown back into detention. Three and a half years later, Peter is still in detention in Australia, having had his visa revoked. Currently, no deportations are taking place to anywhere, due to COVID-19. Deportations back to Afghanistan are rare to non-existent, due to safety concerns, particularly for people of Peter’s tribal ethnicity. Interpreters who have assisted Allied troops have been issued with protection visas in the past, which allow them to work and support themselves in Australia. This is what Peter should have received in the first place. Peter is stuck in limbo. He cannot support his family while in detention. He cannot be sent back home. He waits, not knowing if or when anything will change to relieve his anxiety about his family and their future. He has been separated from them for over 7 years. Interpreters enabled Allied soldiers to protect themselves, to do their jobs and to help the Afghan people as they struggle under the oppression of the Taliban regime. They should be regarded as heroes instead of being treated like criminals. Please sign and share to demand that Peter Dutton, Alan Tudge and the Departments of Immigration and Home Affairs release Peter on a protection visa that will allow him to support himself and to send funds home to help his family. Please also think about donating to Human Rights for All, so we can continue our pro bono work for people like Peter.
Save the tracks now or the Casino to Murwillumbah Railway line will be lost forever.
Our roads are so bad. There's too many trucks and too many road accidents. Traffic congestion is growing fast as tourists pour into our region and our population is constantly increasing. Carbon emissions from transport are growing and are currently 18% of our emissions. Trains could cut that by 60%. We need to let State and Federal governments know we want trains on the Casino to Murwillumbah track as soon as possible. The last thing we need right now is to lose our railway track and rail trail legislation in any section of the line would mean losing the current protection of the whole rail corridor. Rail trail legislation change would mean the rail corridor becomes crown lands and the State government can do what they like with it. The North Coast of NSW has a high proportion of elderly, people on benefits, indigenous people and students. Many are unable to drive or afford a car. The lack of public transport causes suffering to the most vulnerable groups in our community. We need rail services on the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line because of the urgent issue of climate change. Mass transport and rail are the most efficient and safe means of travel. The disastrous effects of climate change can be seen in the March 2017 flood in Lismore and recent bushfires All across the world nations are turning to rail as the most equitable and sustainable mode of transport.
No mandatory vaccines in Australia and no vaccine passports.
In Australia there is a bill in Parliament the No Domestic Covid Vaccine Passports Bill 2021. If passed the bill will prohibit the Commonwealth, state and territory governments and other non-government entities from issuing domestic COVID-19 vaccine passports; and discrimination on the basis of whether a person has had a COVID 19 vaccination in the provision of goods, services and facilities; and in relation to employment, education, accommodation and sport. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Friday 20 August 2021 that childcare workers and disability support workers who live or work in the LGAs of concern must have their first vaccination dose by 30 August 2021. On 28 June 2021, the Australian Government announced that COVID-19 vaccinations would be made mandatory for residential aged care workers. All workers in aged care will be required to receive their first dose of the vaccine by September this year. Queensland has a public health order in place mandating vaccination for health service employees who are likely to encounter and treat people with COVID-19. What this means is that any workers in a vaccine mandated industry, who choose not to be vaccinated and who are not medically exempt, will not be able to work and will lose their capacity to earn an income. There is nothing in law that currently protects individuals against discrimination based on your vaccine status, it is not a protected attribute. Since COVID-19 is novel we need to ensure that the community are protected against this kind of discrimination. People deserve to have the choice and retain individual sovereignty over their bodies and the medical treatment they receive without coercion. That is why this bill needs to be supported and we need Parliament to see where the community stands. You can be fully vaccinated, unvaccinated, pro-vaccine, or anti-vaccine, and still sign this petition as it only regards to the mandate.
Get Aussies home from Morocco
There are currently Australians stuck in Morocco Due to Covid 19. Morocco closed their airspace almost without warning and many people were unable to leave. Morocco are allowing repatriation of foreign nationals out of Morocco and many other countries have done so but the Aussies have been told it won’t be happening and they may have to wait indefinitely to leave. There are many Aussies held up there in hotels, who are running out of money and don’t know how they can maintain their stay. Morocco has been in complete lockdown for the past 24 days. They have been forced to follow the strictest hygiene measures to prevent the spread of Covid 19. These are healthy Australian citizens. My friend Kelly is one of many stuck. She is the most generous and community minded person. Just the other month she started and coordinated a mammoth feed and stock recovery charity for the Victorians affected by the horrific fires. They had 300 round bales of hay leaving every 12 hours to help the farmers who were stranded and were unable to feed their animals who had survived the devistation. So many people were positively impacted by her dedication to help. She now has a partner at home who lives with disability and requires care and support. She desperately needs to get home for him. Kelly is just one person in this situation. This is impacting so many Australians. Please bring them home.
“Great bravery in extreme danger” yet denied awards due to “maladministration”!
Following the extensive media articles published on the 24th and 25th September 2017, the Australian public and the national press asked the Governor General to intervene in the matter of the recognition of the bravery for two diggers, Captain Tony Gilchrist and Sergeant Andy Street, who risked their lives on over 180 deadly missions in Iraq in 2005. To date, neither Tony or Andy have heard anything from the Department of Defence or the Governor General. Street and Gilchrist were denied gallantry awards despite the evidence of their outstanding bravery provided from the British and US military, the FBI, Australian Commanders and other key witnesses, one of which was their ‘boss’ in Iraq, Pete Norton GC. Norton was awarded the George Cross for his work alongside Street and Gilchrist. He is the current Chair of the exclusive Victoria Cross and George Cross Association whose members includes the likes of Keith Payne VC and Ben Roberts-Smith VC. Norton knows exactly what constitutes gallantry and bravery in combat. Even the Australian Defence Force’s own Honours and Awards Directorate agreed that both Gilchrist and Street deserved recognition for gallantry. Instead, both men were given somewhat token awards for ‘distinguished service’, identical to those awards given to ADF members deployed in training, administration positions and those in command who do not see combat. The acts of digging by hand for booby-trap explosive devices, searching for bomb components amongst the bodies of 150 civilians killed in a single terrorist atrocity, hunting through crowds for a second suicide bomber immediately after a suicide attack and surviving multiple attempts on their lives including RPGs, buried IEDs, snipers and mortars were just a few of the acts of bravery well above and well beyond that expected of a distinguished service award recipient. This lack of understanding of the roles of Street and Gilchrist in Iraq forced both men to appeal for a review of their service and possibly be considered for gallantry awards. The review process took nearly 10 years through the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal (DHAAT). The DHAAT were entirely responsible for the denial of gallantry awards for Andy and Tony. The Tribunal ignored over 1,300 pages of written evidence and oral and written statements given by actual witnesses who served alongside both men in the US-led Combined Explosives Exploitation Cell (CEXC). The Tribunal (which then, and still to this day, contains no member with similar operational ‘on-the-ground’ experience nor any gallantry awards), overruled witness accounts that recommended that Street and Gilchrist deserved medals of gallantry during their time as the “Baghdad bomb-hunters”. The Tribunal ignored the oral evidence provided from Australian Commanders in charge of all Australian troops deployed in the Middle East at the time of Street and Gilchrist’s deployment. Other witness statements that were dismissed were from fellow members of Andy and Tony’s ten-man patrol team, whose UK and US members were awarded a George Cross, a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery, a Mention in Dispatches, a Bronze Star, two FBI Shields of Bravery and a FBI Medal of Valour between them. Inexplicably, the Tribunal produced a single, handwritten, unofficial note allegedly written by a high-ranking ‘Australian General’ - with no connection to the men or their unit - that they used to justify the denial of awards. Surprisingly, as the media reports were quick to recognise, the DHAAT reported that they could not identify what constitutes gallantry! So why did they ignore the testimony of the likes of Norton - a soldier awarded the very highest medal for gallantry? ALL the witnesses had much more operational experience of bravery than the entire board of the DHAAT. This is surely not to be ignored when the Tribunal could not even identify what gallantry was? Following the ‘bizarre’ decision of the DHAAT, Street and Gilchrist approached those agencies that are charged with overseeing the conduct of Government organisations such as DHAAT. The Office of the Inspector-General ADF, the Defence Ombudsman, the Directorate of Investigations and Recovery and the Defence Public Interest Disclosure unit were apparently unable to investigate the Tribunal’s decision, citing that the DHAAT was freely able to make decisions that are “…functus officio in respect of this [DHAAT] review, and [they] cannot legally amend or revise this decision…”. This apparent impunity means that the DHAAT is untouchable, despite clear evidence that the Tribunal members may have omitted key information, ignored witnesses, or were subject to external influences in their decision-making process. For example, undisclosed links between the Tribunal board members and the previously mentioned ‘Australian General’ subsequently came to light which questioned the very independence of the Tribunal when it came to Gilchrist and Street. What now? Is it right that both men give up their fight for recognition? Should these two war heroes now pursue actions against the DHAAT in a court of law? Is this even possible? In a further development, as the original Daily Telegraph article noted, Street returned his Commendation for Distinguished Service medal and Certificate to the Governor General, citing that the DHAAT report had confirmed that his medal had been awarded incorrectly due to ‘Defence maladministration’. Despite numerous letters and emails written by Street, the Tribunal and Governor General both appear to refuse to talk to each other, leaving Street frustrated and angry. There is one option left: We can officially request intervention from the Governor General – the person whom is ultimately responsible for Australian honours and awards. For this to happen we need public support. If we can raise a significant number of signatures via Change.org then an official request for a response can be sought. The Governor General is the Commander-in-Chief of the ADF and is Chancellor of the Order of Australia and therefore can make a difference. Please remember that Gilchrist and Street have tried everything they can. Their story has appeared on the front page of national newspapers, has been featured on TV’s Channel 10 News, The Project and ABC’s Four Corners. They have the support from the likes of Senator Jacqui Lambie, the FBI, the US and UK military including the Chair of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association. Both men have already been accepted for gallantry awards by the Defence Honours and Awards Directorate. Gilchrist and Street were recognised by Brendon Nelson - the Director of the Australian War Memorial - as having saved hundreds, if not thousands of lives by risking their own on a daily basis. Despite this, not a single response has been issued from the Governor General, Defence or the DHAAT since the media reports of September 2017. All the Australian, British and American members of the CEXC made a promise to each other. For the men who saved each other’s lives and hundreds of others, they promised that their actions would not be unrewarded. This is our last chance to appeal to the Governor General to recognise the Australians - Tony and Andy – and their acts of gallantry, lest they are forgotten. The media reports are available here: https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/hurt-locker-heroes https://www.theage.com.au/national/Baghdad-bomb-hunters https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/ieds-killed--iraq
Fair Entry for Rural Students to Monash University School of Rural Health Medicine Program
Despite a shortage of rural doctors in Gippsland, aspiring medical students that adore the region and wish to study, live and work there are prevented from doing so by a nonsensical policy made by Monash University regarding entry to their Medical Degree. Federation University graduates from Gippsland are currently forced to move across the state or even interstate due to a Monash University policy that prevents their entry to the Monash University medicine program. The irony of the situation is that this program is delivered in Churchill at the Monash School of rural health, in the very same location as these students have completed their undergraduate degree.Recently, the national Budget allocated $95 million towards the new Murray Darling Medical school network. This school aims to train rural doctors without students needing to leave their region. However, Monash School of Rural Health had the ability to do just this: if only they would change their ridiculous and somewhat discriminatory policy. Monash school of rural health is located in Churchill, sharing buildings with Federation University who delivers a Biomedical Science degree that meets criteria for entry to all Australian Medical Schools except the Monash School of Rural Health. Monash will only accept students who have graduated from their own Biomedicine degree. Monash have been approached and asked for a rationale behind this decision, to which they have offered none. It seems reasonable, therefore, to conclude that Monash University maintains this policy for financial gain; ensuring increased popularity for their own Biomedicine program. This Monash University policy means that Gippsland students wishing to study postgraduate medicine must move (or commute an exorbitant distance through traffic or on subpar public transport) to Monash's Clayton campus for 3 years to complete their Biomedical Science degree, before they can move back to Gippsland and study Medicine at Churchill (with placement opportunities throughout Gippsland). Otherwise, students can study biomedical science at Federation University Churchill before moving across the state or interstate to complete their medical degree. This Monash University policy is harming not only the students but the patients of Gippsland. Please help us change this policy by signing and sharing this petition if you would like to see doctors that are trained in and STAY IN GIPPSLAND.
The hiring of specialist trained Gender Surgeons in each Australian State and Territory
To the honourable members of the Australian Parliament, I, Elizabeth Kazon, an Intersex Transgender Female, and my fellow LGBTQIA+ individuals, allies and supporters, call upon you to without delay hire surgeons within the Medicare public health system to perform sex reassignment surgeries, thus making these certified Life Saving Surgeries, affordable for all Transgender and Intersex Australians. Within Australia, Medicare pays a rebate for some Male to Female Sex Reassignment Surgeries and some Female to Male Sex Reassignment Surgeries, however as there isn’t the possibility to have these surgeries performed in the public health system, private surgeons have a virtual monopoly, making these necessary surgeries unaffordable for a majority of Transgender and Intersex individuals. Furthermore, advancements are being made in these surgeries, however there is no opportunity for the private surgeons to learn and use these new techniques as they are constantly backlogged with patients who have no alternatives. The approximate cost in Australia to have a Penile Inversion Vaginoplasty is $18’000 excluding aftercare, fights and accommodation. A new surgery, the Peritoneum Pull-Through Vaginoplasty has been pioneered and is being performed oversees for approximately $20’000-$40’000 USD. This cost is relatively affordable when compared to the $100’000+ payable to have Phalloplasty performed in Australia. These prices are unaffordable, and it should be offered within the public system. In addition, it is with great conviction that we also believe that breast enhancement, breast reduction, Buttocks enhancement and buttocks reduction should also be performed for those holding a valid Intersex or Transgender Diagnosis as such procedures have been proven to greatly improve Transgender and Intersex individuals’ mental health. We the undersigned call upon you, the Australian Parliament, to without delay, put pressure on the individual states and territories to hire and train 1 specialist surgeon per capital city in Australia plus at least 4 specialist nurses to assist them. These surgeons collectively should be proficient in the following new and older techniques to meet the needs of the Transgender and Intersex Individuals of Australia: · Peritoneum Pull-Through Vaginoplasty, · Sigmoid Colon Vaginoplasty, · Penile Inversion Vaginoplasty, · Facial Feminization Surgery, · Voice Feminization Surgery, · Tracheal Shave, · Breast and Buttock Augmentation, · Mastectomy, · Hysterectomy, · Bilateral Salpingo-Oophorectomy, · Metoidplasty, · Phalloplasty. Yours with hope,
Veterans Discount Card Let Down. Govt uses private company: APOD. Too hard for some to use
The Federal Govt recently launched the Veterans Card hoping hoping to win brownie points from everyone. Whilst the card, covenant and lapel pin are nice recognition, it is supposed to include great discounts from hundreds of Australian businesses. So most veterans were expecting to see a simple list of businesses to be listed on the Dept of Veterans Affairs (DVA) website (at minimal cost to taxpayers). However, many veterans are now very upset that the Govt has done a secret deal with a private company to run it: Everyday Savers Pty Ltd trading as Australian Partners of Defence (APOD). Members are expected to join APOD and it is believed that APOD will earn fees when veterans redeem discounts online and pre-pay by credit card. Regretably, most discounts are disappointing and many require the veteran to pre-purchase a $100 gift voucher to receive a pathetic $2.50 discount. This APOD partnership with the Federal Govt needs to be reversed as it is envisaged that this partnership may cost veterans and taxpayers dearly. It is also too difficult for many older veterans to use, especially if they do not have access to the internet. To support this petition please write to your local federal member and the Minister for Veteran Affairs, Darren Chester. In the meantime, I suggest all 33,000 of us boycott APOD and just ask for a "veterans discount" at every business you visit. Even if a business does not usually give a "veterans discount", most will if asked. There are 33,000 of us veteran about to receive a Veterans Card so let us use our strength in numbers. For more discussion from veterans visit the face book group page "Australian Veterans Card Support Group"