Veterans and their families

17 Oct 2019 speech

I'm pleased to support the third annual statement on veterans and their families today, and would like to recognise the Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel for his commitment to supporting the men and women who have served our nation.

One of the great privileges of serving as the member for Boothby since 2016 has been working with my veterans community in my local area to ensure that veterans receive the support and the recognition that they deserve. I'd like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the following local organisations and thank them for all that they do as fierce advocates for our veterans, as supporters of one another and supporters of the families of our veterans,
and as the people who commemorate and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, our safety, our freedom and our democracy. They are the Blackwood RSL; the Marion RSL; the Brighton RSL; the Plympton Glenelg RSL; the Plympton Veterans Centre; the Vietnam Veterans Federation SA Branch; the National Malaya & Borneo Veterans Association, South Australia & Northern Territory Branch; RSL Care SA; the Mitcham RSL; the Colonel Light Gardens RSL; and the William Kibby VC Veterans Shed. To all of these wonderful volunteers, I say thank you.

The Morrison government is supporting our veterans in a range of ways. We have a particular focus on supporting veterans' wellbeing, mental health, housing and post-service employment. I'm particularly proud of our $30 million investment to establish a network of six new veterans wellbeing centres that will bring together key services for our veterans and their families. This includes the establishment of a centre at the repat hospital site at Daw Park in my community. Working together with the South Australian Marshall Liberal government and my local community, particularly my veterans community, we are reactivating this iconic site that the former state Labor government cruelly shut down so that once again it is a safe and caring place for our veterans and the broader community to receive the very best health care and support.

We also want to help ex-service organisations to find veterans civilian jobs when they decide to finish their Defence service careers. We will be providing $16.2 million over four years to support non-profit organisations, including Soldier On, Team Rubicon and the state branches of the RSL, to deliver tailored, innovative support to help veterans find meaningful civilian employment. Through the Prime Minister's Veterans Employment Program, we have introduced the Veterans Employment Toolkit. This provides information to veterans on how to translate skills based on their Defence rank, prepare a resume and job application, prepare for interviews and adjust to the civilian workplace. As part of the program, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel announced the Veterans Employment Commitment last November, inviting businesses to make a public commitment to the employment of veterans. More than 150 organisations have signed this commitment, and almost 2,000 vacancies have been advertised on the government's jobactive website, flagging
Defence Force experience as desired. Our Supporting Younger Veterans Grants Program has delivered more than $157,000 to Flinders University, in the heart of my electorate, in partnership with the William Kibby VC Veterans Shed, to develop a program to support younger veterans to undertake tertiary education. This program leads to improved pathways for younger veterans as they move into civilian life.

Our government has also recognised the civilian doctors and nurses who served our nation alongside our ADF personnel during wartime. I note that, of course, nurses have taken a very active role in a range of combat zones throughout our history of military involvement in wars. Last year, after decades of fighting for recognition, our government extended the DVA gold card entitlement to the SEATO medical team who served during the Vietnam
War. I worked closely with SEATO nurse and local Boothby resident Helen Taplin to secure this outcome and was able to gain a small insight into the rewarding and heartbreaking things she experienced in Vietnam. My local community is home to the Women's Memorial Playing Fields—an eight-hectare site that was established by Liberal Premier Sir Thomas Playford in 1953 as a memorial to the 21 nurses who were massacred on Radji Beach during World War II. Each year, we hold a ceremony to commemorate their service and remember their lives and their sacrifice. I'm incredibly proud to have secured a $500,000 grant to upgrade the memorial to commemorate the lives of these brave nurses and all female service personnel.

The privileges and freedoms that we all enjoy as Australians are only possible because of the sacrifice and service of our veterans and Defence Force personnel. Our government is committed to supporting our veterans and their families and honouring their service and sacrifice for decades to come. To all who have served our nation, we thank you most sincerely.