Veterans boss raised concerns about private consultants interviewing families about department’s performance

Exclusive by defence correspondent Andrew Greene

Australia’s Veterans’ Affairs boss warned against attempts to investigate her department’s processing of claims, telling the minister last year she would “not support” an approach that specifically focused on families who had lost a relative to suicide.

Key points:

  • Jacqui Lambie has accused the Veterans’ Affairs boss Liz Cosson of offering different accounts to the minister and to a royal commission
  • Ms Cosson warned against private consultants investigating links between her department’s performance and veteran suicide
  • She later told a royal commission DVA’s backlog could be a contributing factor to suicides

In October, the recently installed Veterans’ Affairs Minister Andrew Gee announced private consultants McKinsey would “overhaul the Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ claims processing system”.

Announcing the move, he described the backlog of claims at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) as “unacceptably high, which is delaying veterans and their families access to vital services and funding”.

Now documents released under freedom of information (FOI) have revealed concerns were formally raised by department secretary Liz Cosson about the proposed scope of the work being conducted by McKinsey consultants.

In a ministerial submission written in October, she warned the minister:

“I am concerned with your direction that a specific focus [in the McKinsey Review into DVA claims processing] be put on families who have lost a loved one to suicide.

“I would of course be happy to facilitate a broader engagement with veterans and families with McKinsey and Co.

“I am not able to support any approach where there is a specific focus on families who have lost a loved one to suicide or any connotation that there is a direct causal link between delays in claims processing and an individual’s decision to take their own life.”

 

Liz Cosson gave evidence to the royal commisson last week. (Supplied: Department of Defence)

 

It is understood the secretary was concerned about families being approached by private consultants just as a long-awaited royal commission was about to begin public hearings where many of the same relatives were preparing to give evidence.

Last week, the secretary gave evidence to the royal commission where she was asked if “delays in claims processing at DVA” were “capable of raising the risks that veterans making those claims could take their own lives?”.

“I believe that the claims backlog could be a contributing factor, absolutely,” Ms Cosson told the royal commission hearing in Canberra.

Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie, who obtained the FOI documents, has attacked Ms Cosson, accusing her of saying one thing to her minister, but another to the royal commission.

“The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has some 60,000 claims on their books. It can take years for veterans to get compensation for their injuries,” Senator Lambie said.

“I’m glad that she told the truth under oath. But if she knows that the claims backlog is a ‘contributing factor’ to suicides, why didn’t she want McKinsey to investigate it last year? Has she changed her mind?

“Once again we’ve got a public servant saying one thing and doing another behind closed doors. It stinks to high heaven.”

If you or anyone you know needs help:

 

 

The RAAF will conduct flypasts on ANZAC Day – full list.

The RAAF will conduct flypasts in every state and territory on ANZAC Day, with COVID restrictions all but removed nationwide.

Aircraft on display will include modern platforms such as the F-35, Super Hornet and Wedgetail, alongside warbirds flown by 100 Squadron.

Separately, the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) is also putting on a flypast over seven locations across the NSW South Coast, Illawarra, and Sydney.

Full details of every flypast in every location are at the bottom of this article.

Last year, tickets for the Canberra ANZAC Day Dawn Service were capped at just 4,200 due to pandemic rules, while the traditional march itself was also scaled back to include just 200 veterans.

A three-day lockdown in Perth even saw all services cancelled.

ANZAC Day marks the anniversary of the first military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during WWI, when 60,000 Australians died.

NSW

TOWN/CITY LOCATION TIMING AIRCRAFT
Doyalson Pacific Highway, Doyalson 9.05am F-35A Lightning II
Freshwater Harbord Diggers Club, Evans Street, Freshwater 9.20am F-35A Lightning II
Sydney CBD Elizabeth Street, Sydney 9.30am F-35A Lightning II
Terrigal Wamberal The Terrigal Foreshore War Memorial, The Esplanade 9.40am F-35A Lightning II
Toukley Main Road, Toukley 9.40am F-35A Lightning II
Lake Macquarie Dora Creek Workers Club, Minnie Street, Dora Creek 9.40am F-35A Lightning II
Wangi Wangi Wangi Wangi RSL, Watkings Road, Wangi Wangi 9.40am F-35A Lightning II
Belmont Cullen Park War Memorial, 

Corner Ada Street and Pacific Highway, Belmont

9.45am F-35A Lightning II
Newcastle Civic Park, corner of King and Aukland Streets, Newcastle 10.00am F-35A Lightning II
Maitland Corner William and Newcastle Streets (New England Highway), Maitland 10.30am F-35A Lightning II
Muswellbrook Corner Market Street and New England Highway, Muswellbrook 10.35am F-35A Lightning II
Tilligerry Tilligerry RSL Sports Club, Lemon Tree Passage Road, Tanilba Bay 10.40am F-35A Lightning II
Nelson Bay Apex Park, Laman Street, Nelson Bay 11.00am F-35A Lightning II
Raymond Terrace Anzac Park, Raymond Terrace, corner Jacaranda Avenue and Port Stephens Street 11.00am F-35A Lightning II
Wyong Wyong Town Park, corner of Alison Road and Rankens Court , Wyong 11.05am F-35A Lightning II
Branxton Branxton RSL Memorial Rotunda, John Rose Avenue, Branxton 11.20am F-35A Lightning II
Cessnock Cessnock Cenotaph TAFE Park, post WW2 Memorial Veterans Park, Cessnock 11.30am F-35A Lightning II
The Entrance Cenotaph, Memorial Park, Marine Parade, The Entrance 11.35am F-35A Lightning II
Ourimbah Ourimbah Public School, Pacific Highway, Ourimbah 11.40am F-35A Lightning II
Empire Bay War Memorial Sorrento Road, Empire Bay 11.50am F-35A Lightning II
Kyogle Summerland Way (main street) Kyogle 10.21am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Woodenbong Unumgar Street, Woodenbong 10.27am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Deepwater New England Highway, Deepwater 10.47am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Emmaville Emmaville 10.51am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Glen Innes Glen Innes & District Services Club, Grey Street, Glen Innes 10.56am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Guyra Soliders Memorial Hall, Bradley Street, Guyra 11.04am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Tenterfield RSL Pavilion, Molesworth Street, Tenterfield 11.20am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Tabulam Clarence Street, Tabulam 11.27am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Woodburn Riverside Park, River Street, Woodburn 1027am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Evans Head Evans Head 10.30am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Grafton Memorial Park, Prince Street, Grafton 10.41am F/A-18F Super Hornet
South Grafton Skinner Street and Through Street, South Grafton 10.42am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Ulmarra Memorial Park, Coldstream Road, Ulmarra 10.44am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Maclean River Street and Wharf Street, Mclean 10.48am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Yamba Queen Street and Marine Parade, Yamba 10.51am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Iluka Charles and Micalo Streets, Iluka 10.52am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Ballina Ballina RSL Memorial Park, Grant Street, Ballina 11.00am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Wallendbeen Wallendbeen 9.16am No. 100 Squadron heritage aircraft
Cootamundra 9.20am No. 100 Squadron heritage aircraft
Temora 11.00am No. 100 Squadron heritage aircraft
Lockhart 11.19am No. 100 Squadron heritage aircraft
Finley 11.38am No. 100 Squadron heritage aircraft
Oaklands 11.48am No. 100 Squadron heritage aircraft
Uranquinty Wirraway Park, Uranquinty 09.00am No. 100 Squadron heritage aircraft
Wagga Wagga Victory Memorial Gardens, Baylis Street, Wagga Wagga 10.35am No. 100 Squadron heritage aircraft
The Rock 10.45am No. 100 Squadron heritage aircraft
Coolamon Cowabbie Street, Coolamon 10.59am No. 100 Squadron heritage aircraft
Ganmain Ganmain Memorial Bowling Club, Waterview Street, Ganmain 11.04am No. 100 Squadron heritage aircraft
Griffith Memorial Park, Banna Avenue, Griffith 12.00 – 12.10pm No. 100 Squadron heritage aircraft
Ardlethan 11.53am No. 100 Squadron heritage aircraft
Port Macquarie Port Macquarie RSL SB 11:00am E-7A Wedgetail
Harrington Harrington-Crowdy Head RSL Sub Branch 11.45am E-7A Wedgetail
Old Bar Old Bar Beach RSL Sub Branch 12.20pm E-7A Wedgetail
Rathmines Ex-RAAF Base Rathmines Memorial, Stilling Street, Rathmines 1.20pm E-7A Wedgetail

 

Queensland

TOWN/CITY LOCATION TIMING AIRCRAFT
Townsville The Strand, Townsville 9.00am C-27J Spartan
Kalbar Kalbar War Monument, Engelsburg Memorial Park, Edward Street, Kalbar 9.54am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Brisbane Brisbane CBD 10.05am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Stanthorpe Stanthorpe 10.37am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Palm Beach Currumbin Palm Beach RSL Cenotaph, Duringan Street, Currumbin 11.11am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Tweed Heads Chris Cunningham Park, ADJ to Twin Towns Services Club 11.13am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Brisbane Brisbane CBD 11.30am F/A-18F Super Hornet
Springbrook Cenotaph at Centenary Park, Carricks Road, Springbrook 11.40am F/A-18F Super Hornet

 

Victoria

TOWN/CITY LOCATION TIMING AIRCRAFT
Templestowe Templestowe Remembrance Gardens, corner Foote St and High Street, Lower Templestowe 9.40am PC-21
Melbourne CBD Shrine of Remembrance, Birdwood Avenue, Melbourne 10.56am PC-21
Montmorency Petrie Park, 16 Mountain View Road, Montmorency 10.47am PC-21
Inverloch Civil Hub, A’Beckett Street, Inverloch 10.34am PC-21
Korumburra Coleman Park, Queen Street, Korumburra 10.30am PC-21
Portarlington Portarlington Cenotaph, Pier Street, Portarlington 11.01am PC-21
Crib Point 10.42am PC-21
Flinders 10.45am PC-21
Rosebud 10.48am PC-21
Drysdale 11.00am PC-21
Berwick 11.20am PC-21
Phillip Island 11.28am PC-21
Bentleigh 11.00am PC-21
Upwey 11.03am PC-21

 

WA

TOWN/CITY LOCATION TIMING AIRCRAFT
Wanneroo Wanneroo War Memorial 12.00pm PC-21
Rockingham Corner Flinders Land and Kent Street, Rockingham 12.30pm PC-21
Mt Hawthorn Axford Park, corner Osford Street and Scarborough Beach Road 11.50am PC-21
Victoria Plains ANZAC Memorial, Victoria Plains 12.00pm PC-21
Yanchep Yanchep National Park 12.25pm PC-21
Mt Barker War Memorial, Centenary Park, Mt Barker 10.55am PC-21
Walpole Walpole Memorial, corner Pier Street and Latham Avenue, Walpole 11.10am PC-21
Albany Albany War Memorial 11.30am PC-21
Lancelin Memorial, Gingin Road, Lancelin 12.15pm PC-21
Busselton Busselton War Memorial, Albert Street, Busselton 10.00am PC-21
Kwinana and Medina Medina War Memorial, Pace Road, Medina 11.10am PC-21
Geraldton Birdwood House, corner Chapman Rd and Forrest Street, Geraldton 11.05am PC-21
Dwellingup Dwellingup Memorial Park, Dwellingup 10.30am PC-21
Toodyay Anzac Park, Anzac Avenue, Toodyay 11.25am PC-21
Bakers Hill Hooper Park, Great Eastern Highway, Bakers Hill 11.20am PC-21
Waroona-Hamel Waroona Memorial, South Western Highway, Waroona 10.35am PC-21
Northampton 239 Hampton Road, Northampton 11.15am PC-21
Mandurah Mandurah War Memorial, 11 Leighton Pl, Halls Head 11.00am PC-21
Boyup Brook Sandakan Park, Abel Street, Boyup Brook 11.55am PC-21
Jurien Bay Jurien Bay War Memorial, Jurien Bay 11.45am PC-21

 

SA

TOWN/CITY LOCATION TIMING AIRCRAFT
Edithburgh Edithburgh Memorial, Main Street, Edithburgh 09.00am P-8A Poseidon
Adelaide CBD King William Street, Adelaide 10.30am P-8A Poseidon

 

NT

TOWN/CITY LOCATION TIMING AIRCRAFT
Timber Creek Nackeroo Monument Timber Creek 8.00am F-35A
Dundee Beach Dundee Beach Cenotaph (Old Boat Ramp) 8.30am F-35A
Wagait Wagait Tower Road, Wagait 8.35am F-35A
Darwin Esplanade, Darwin City 9.00am F-35A
Palmerston Palmerston War Memorial Park, Palmerston 9.02am F-35A
Adelaide River and Coomalie Adelaide River War Cemetery, Memorial Terrace, Adelaide River 9.10am F-35A
Katherine Katherine Cenotaph, Railway Terrace, Katherine 09.15am F-35A
Kalkarindji Kalkarindji, Butine Highway 09.45am F-35A
Elliott Elliott Memorial Park, Elliott 10.30am F-35A
Katherine Katherine Country Club 40 Pearce Street, Katherine 11.00am F-35A

 

Tasmania

LOCATION TIME AIRCRAFT
Bicheno 08.30-09.30 am KA 350 King Air
Hobart 10.00am-12.30 pm KA 350 King Air
Westbury 10.40-11.30 am KA 350 King Air
Queenstown 11.00am-12.00 pm KA 350 King Air

 

ACT

A C-130J Hercules will fly over Anzac Parade at 9.35am.

HARS

The Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) is also putting on a flypast over seven locations across the NSW South Coast, Illawarra, and Sydney. The aircraft on the schedule include an Orion, Mustang, Harvard, and Huey Helicopter, which will fly over the South Coast from Kiama, Kangaroo Valley and Wollongong, while a Tracker, Dakota, and Caribou will fly past Cronulla, Coogee and Sydney City. First, all seven aircraft will overfly the HARS Aviation Museum at Shellharbour in a long line astern sequence, led by the Orion at 8:10am. The display will include two passes before the aircraft return to the airport. Full details can be found here.

Then and Now Tour Nui Dat

Then and Now Tour Nui Dat Australian Vietnam Base Long Tan Horseshoe – 20 minutes

Then and Now Study of the Australian Vietnam base of Nui Dat. Nui Dat was the operational base for 1 ATF from 1966 to 1971. In this video, we compare old maps, and photos, to current maps and remnants of The Dat. An Australian motocycle tour from Vung Tau.

 

Using the Repatriation Health Card — For All Conditions (Gold)

Health Entitlement
Using the Repatriation Health Card — For All Conditions (Gold)
Overview
This Factsheet describes the health care you can access and payments you may receive
with your Repatriation Health Card — For All Conditions (Gold Card).

It provides information on:
• What services you can access and what restrictions may apply; and
• using the Gold Card when travelling overseas.
Am I eligible for the Gold Card?
For information on eligibility for the Gold Card, see Factsheet HSV59 Eligibility for the
Repatriation Health Card – For All Conditions (Gold).
When do I use my Gold Card?
Your Gold Card identifies you as being eligible for treatment and care for all your health care
conditions at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) expense.
You should present your Gold Card whenever you visit:
• a doctor, medical specialist, dentist, pharmacist, dental prosthetist, optometrist or other
health care professionals who provide services under DVA arrangements; or
• a hospital or day procedure facility.
Note: DVA will not pay for treatment of a disease or injury for which you have received
compensation or damages.
Using the Repatriation Health Card – For All Conditions (Gold),
continued
HSV60 – Last updated: 8 Jul 2010 Page 2 of 6
What health care services can I access?
Your Gold Card allows you access to:
• acupuncture performed by a medical practitioner
• chiropractic services
• community nursing
• convalescent care
• diabetes education
• dental services
• dietetic services
• emergency short-term home relief
• exercise physiology
• hearing services
• medical consultations and procedures listed on the MBS*
• medical services and surgical procedures listed on the MBS* in public and private
hospitals and day procedure centres
• medical specialist services listed on the MBS*
• medication reviews
• nursing home care
• occupational therapy
• optometric consultations and aids
• orthoptics
• osteopathic services
• palliative care
• pathology services
• pharmaceutical items prescribed by your doctor
• physiotherapy
• podiatry and medical grade footwear
• psychology, including hypnotherapy
• rehabilitation aids and appliances
• social work
• speech pathology
• transport including ambulance and travel assistance to obtain health care
• Veterans’ and Veterans’ Families Counselling
• Veterans’ Home Care
− domestic assistance
− personal care
− safety-related home and garden maintenance
− respite care
• referral for delivered meals
• referral for community transport
• X-rays, nuclear medicine imaging, ultrasound and computerised tomography.
Note: *Generally the only medical services available are those listed on the Medicare
Benefits Schedule (MBS), but exceptions can be made in special circumstances.
Refer to the ‘Other Factsheets’ section for more details.
Using the Repatriation Health Card – For All Conditions (Gold),
continued
HSV60 – Last updated: 8 Jul 2010 Page 3 of 6
Are there other services I can access?
HomeFront
You can have a free home assessment under the HomeFront falls and accident prevention
program. DVA makes a financial contribution in the form of a subsidy towards the cost of
recommended aids and minor home modifications. The recommended aids and appliances
are generally low-cost items such as handrails or the provision of non-slip strips on steps.
The cost of recommended aids and minor home modifications over and above the subsidy is
to be met by you. This service is available each calendar year. Prior approval is not required.
To arrange an assessment, telephone 1800 801 945 and ask for HomeFront.
Veterans’ Home Maintenance Line
The Veterans’ Home Maintenance Line (VHML) is a toll-free telephone service that provides
advice on general property maintenance matters and referral to local reliable and efficient
tradespeople. The tradespeople have appropriate qualifications, and both professional
indemnity and public liability insurance cover. VHML can also arrange home inspections to
identify current or possible future maintenance problems.
The VHML advice is free but you will need to pay for work done by tradespeople, including
callout fees. You can receive an unlimited number of services from the VHML.
You can access this service by telephoning 1800 801 945.
Note: This is a home maintenance and emergency service only. It cannot give financial or
legal advice, or answer questions about pensions or other DVA matters. If you have
questions about pensions or other matters, ring DVA on the telephone numbers
listed at the end of this Factsheet.
Can I use my Gold Card overseas?
You must contact DVA before you travel overseas for information about arrangements for
treatment overseas.
Are there any limits or restrictions?
Yes, there are limits that apply to some services. For example, medical services are subject
to the requirements of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). Some treatments require
prior financial authorisation from DVA.
Using the Repatriation Health Card – For All Conditions (Gold),
continued
HSV60 – Last updated: 8 Jul 2010 Page 4 of 6
Do I need to pay for treatment?
No, you should not pay for any treatment received under DVA arrangements. If you are
billed do not pay the account and contact DVA immediately.
You may be required to make a contribution towards the cost of pharmaceutical items,
nursing home care and some dental services. There may be an extra fee, called the gap fee,
charged for higher cost brands of some pharmaceutical items.
Do I have to get prior financial authorisation before receiving treatment?
No, you do not need to make any arrangements for prior financial authorisation before
receiving treatment. If prior financial authorisation is required your doctor or health care
provider will arrange this for you. Services requiring prior financial authorisation are:
• admission to non-contracted private hospitals and non-contracted day surgery facilities;
• ambulance transport (in some States) except in an emergency;
• any health care provided overseas;
• any medical service that is not listed on the MBS;
• medical grade footwear;
• allied health services in public hospitals and for high level residential aged care facilities;
• orthoptic services;
• respite care;
• some pharmaceutical items;
• some rehabilitation appliances and surgical aids;
• a car with driver, where your doctor certifies that it is medically essential; and
• some hospital services, such as convalescence, dental procedures and cosmetic surgery.
Can I choose to be treated as a Medicare or private patient?
Yes, you can choose to be treated as a Medicare or private patient. However if you take this
option, DVA will not pay for any services that have been paid in part or full by Medicare,
private health insurance or a third party compensation benefit.
If you do choose to be treated under Medicare you may still receive, at DVA’s expense,
additional health care services that are not covered by Medicare.
Note: DVA will pay for health care services arranged in accordance with DVA
requirements. DVA will not pay the difference between the Medicare refund and the
cost of the treatment.
Using the Repatriation Health Card – For All Conditions (Gold),
continued
HSV60 – Last updated: 8 Jul 2010 Page 5 of 6
When does my Gold Card expire?
The expiry date is shown on the front of your Gold Card. You will receive a replacement card
about one month before the expiry date. If you don’t receive your replacement card ring
DVA.
DVA will notify you and ask you to return the card if you are no longer eligible for it.
If you change your address please contact DVA so your replacement card is sent to the
correct address.
What do I do if my Gold Card is lost, stolen or damaged?
If your Gold Card is lost, stolen or damaged you must contact DVA immediately so your card
can be cancelled and a new Gold Card issued.
It may take up to four weeks for a new card to be issued. DVA will provide a letter of
authority for this period if you need one, or your health provider may phone DVA for
information about your eligibility and entitlements.
Other Factsheets
Other Factsheets related to this topic include:
• About Veterans’ Home Care: HCS01
• Chiropractic: HSV13
• Community Nursing Services: HSV16
• Dental Services: HSV17
• Diabetes Educators: HSV29
• Dietetic Services: HSV21
• Eligibility for the Repatriation Health Card – For All Conditions (Gold): HSV59
• Exercise Physiology: HSV30
• Health Services for Veterans with Cancer: HSV66
• Hearing Services: HSV22
• HomeFront: HAC04
• Local Medical Officer Services: HSV80
• Medical Expenses Privately Incurred: HSV64
• Occupational Therapy Services: HSV23
• Optical Services and Supplies: HSV18
• Osteopathic: HSV14
• Oxygen: HSV24
• Physiotherapy: HSV19
• Podiatry and Footwear: HSV20
• Psychology Services: HSV25
Using the Repatriation Health Card – For All Conditions (Gold),
continued
HSV60 – Last updated: 8 Jul 2010 Page 6 of 6
• Receiving Health Services While Overseas: HSV65
• Recovery of treatment costs where compensation claimed or received: HSV100
• Social Work Services: HSV26
• Specialist Services: HSV81
• Speech Pathology Services: HSV27
• Vietnam Veterans — Eligibility for Treatment of Anxiety and Depression: HSV68
• War Widow(er)s and Orphans’ Pension: DP60.
More information
All DVA Factsheets are available from DVA offices, and on the DVA website at:
www.dva.gov.au.
You can phone DVA for the cost of a local call on 133 254 or 1800 555 254 for country
callers. Use a normal landline phone if you can. Mobile phone calls may cost you more.
You can send an email to DVA at: [email protected]
You can get more help from any DVA office.

Vale: 1410793 Frank Gulyas – 105 Fd Bty – First Tour

We have received advice of the death on Monday morning, 18 April 2022, of Frank Gulyas. Frank served with 105 Field Battery in Vietnam from September 1965 until June 1966. He stayed on in Vietnam with 1st Field Regiment until September 1966 to complete his 12-month tour. He was 82. No other details are available at this stage.

RIP Frank Gulyas

Peter Bruce

Obituary Resource Officer

RAAHC

[email protected]

0419 349 317

RSL clubs lack young veterans for Anzac Day events as NSW president calls for change

 A member of the 324 Squadron during the Anzac Day dawn service at Coogee Beach in Sydney. 
The NSW RSL says young veteran volunteers are in short supply.(AAP: Steven Saphore)
The future of Anzac Day events is at risk due to a lack of young veterans signing up to volunteer with RSL clubs, long-serving members have warned.

A report by the NSW RSL found that 90 per cent of their volunteers were over the age of 55.

“If we don’t get our young veterans involved in that sort of area, things will start to look quite grim,” he said. 

“The age bracket of those that are in sub-branches today are in their 70s and 80s.”

Large group of people marching for Anzac day with Australian flags.
Geoff Robinson says less than 10 per cent of their volunteers are Middle East veterans.(Supplied: Mudgee RSL Sub-Branch)

‘We have to change’

NSW RSL president Ray James called on sub-branches to become more accommodating of young veterans.

“A lot of sub-branches do meet at times that conflict with family and work,” he said.

“Most of the branch members at the moment are retired so they could have a meeting at any time that would suit the younger veterans.”

Close up photo of an older white male with blue eyes
Ray James spent 10 years serving in the Australian Navy and fought in Vietnam.(Supplied: NSW RSL)

Mr James, who is a veteran of the Vietnam War, said while the needs of veterans in the 21st century had changed, the challenges they faced had not.

“We have to change the way we do business to accommodate the veterans of today while realising that the veteran of today is no different to the veteran of yesterday,” he said.

“We still suffer the same way, we still have to deal with issues that come into our lives as we serve.”

A Middle East focus

This year’s commemoration services are the first since the Taliban retook Afghanistan in 2021, sparking concerns for the mental health of former Australian Defence Force members.

Mr Robinson from the Mudgee RSL said its service on Monday would have a particular focus on veterans who served in the Middle East.

“Anzac Day encompasses all the conflicts since World War I and I think we need to put a bit more emphasis on the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans,” he said.

“At our dawn service, we are getting a poem read out that was written for those who served in the Middle East.”

Camaraderie ‘is missing’

The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran suicide was launched last year after the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found more than 1,200 former defence members had died by suicide in the past two decades.

Australian soldier
Mr James says the Royal Commission proves the importance of RSLs to veterans.(Supplied: Australian Defence Force)

Mr James said many of the stories and issues highlighted in the royal commission so far illustrated the importance of RSLs in assisting veterans.

“You are meeting with like-minded people who speak the same language and engage with other people who have gone through what you have and that helps them resettle back into civilian life,” he said.

“A lot of the issues that are coming out is that the camaraderie is missing once you leave the military, but the RSL brings that back.”

On Every ANZAC Day

The song, ‘On Every Anzac Day’, was launched at the Australian War Memorial during a performance by the song’s creator (John Schumann OAM) who wrote the renowned military tribute I was only 19.