Commonwealth Ombudsman – release of report into DVA’s communication with veterans making claims for compensation [SEC=OFFICIAL]

Attached for your information is the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s final report into its own motion investigation into DVA’s communication with veterans who make claims for compensation for injuries and conditions released on 20 January 2022.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman is best known for looking into individual complaints or requests to investigate specific matters.  They can also initiate their own investigations that are not necessarily based on any specific complaint.  These are referred to as an ‘own motion investigation’.

As you know from previous discussions, in recent years, the number of claims received by the Department has more than doubled, leading to a backlog of claims and long wait times.

The investigation considered the appropriateness of DVA’s policy and procedural framework for communicating with veterans during the claim process.  DVA welcomed the Ombudsman’s investigation at the time of instigation and worked closely with them.  The final report acknowledges the significant improvements the Department has made to improve the experience of veterans and families as part of Veteran Centric Reform and other initiatives.

There are eight recommendations in the final report.  The recommendations offer improvements aimed at strengthening the accessibility and transparency of information available to the veteran community, and internal guidance to support decision-makers.

DVA accepts all recommendations and notes that they will improve the veteran experience with the claims process.

The recommendations will be implemented across the course of 2022 and an update on their implementation will be provided to ESORT members as the work progresses.

Warm regards

Tara Hatzismalis

Assistant Secretary Processing & DHOAS

Deputy Commissioner QLD

Department of Veterans’ Affairs



DVAs-communication-with-veterans-making-claims-for-compensation-Final-report (1)


We have been advised via Paul Dixon and Ian Finlay of the death on 7 January of Vic Claxton. Vic served with the Detachment 131 Divisional Location Battery in South Vietnam from January to December 1968.

He had endured a long illness and was in the hospital at the time of his death. Vic was 73.  No funeral details are available at this stage however we do have a phone number for his widow Andria, if any close friends would like to contact her. Please email me directly for that number.

RIP Victor Leonard Claxton.

Peter Bruce

[email protected]



Back in the early 1400s, chess became super popular in a European community. There was a certain group of people in particular who were especially enthusiastic about the game. They meet up to play chess with each other at every opportunity.

Eventually, this obsession with playing chess caught the attention of the church leaders who noticed that this group of people were skipping church to play chess instead. This was seen as blasphemous and they were ordered to stop immediately.

Unfortunately, the draw of the game proved too strong for these chess aficionados and after continuing to defy the church, they were arrested and tried for heresy. They were found guilty and sentenced to be burned at the stake.

This public execution, held in the town square, became the first recorded incident of chess nuts roasting on an open fire.



3797935 ARNOLD (Lou) HIGHAM – 4RAR

It is with great sadness we announce the passing of 3797935 Arnold (Lou) HIGHAM on 24th December 2021.

Lou served in Vietnam with 4th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment 13/5/1971 to 16/10/1971

On behalf of VVAA Victoria, we extend our deepest sympathies to family, veterans and friends of the late Arnold (Lou) HIGHAM

Naval top brass undergo self-punishment

Commander-in-chief, Sattahip base commander pay for subordinate’s misconduct

Adm Somprasong Nilsamai (left), the navy chief, and VAdm Narupol Kerdnak (right), commander of the Sattahip Naval Base. (Photo supplied)

The naval chief and the commander of a naval base have undergone self-punishment to uphold discipline and show responsibility after one of their subordinates committed a serious misconduct.

Adm Somprasong Nilsamai, commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Navy, and VAdm Narupol Kerdnak, commander of the Sattahip Naval Base, on Thursday took the responsibilty for the actions of their subordinate, according to VAdm Pokkrong, director-general of the Naval Civil Affairs Department.

Lt Alongkorn Ploddee, director of the Real Estate Division of the Sattahip Naval Base, has been involved in quarrels and made false claims on various occasions, ruining the reputation of the navy as a whole, VAdm Pokkrong said.

Last Thursday night, he was caught on video verbally abused Sattahip policemen who showed up at a restaurant for a routine inspection, saying they had ruined his happy time.

“You don’t give me due honour,” he said. He then threw a glass of liquor at them and said he could put them in trouble.

Lt Alongkorn said that the police should have known that Sattahip belongs to the navy and that he was a member of its Seals team of highly trained divers.

In the clip, Lt Alongkorn also claimed he was a friend of “Big Joke”, a reference to Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, the assistant police chief.

VAdm Pokkrong said Lt Alongkorn had been summonsed by the navy for disciplinary action. A committee had been set up to conduct an investigation into his alleged misconduct.

To show responsibility for the misconduct committed by Lt Alongkorn, his bosses of two levels up  — VAdm Narupol and Adm Somprasong — had undergone self-punishment for seven and three days, respectively.

The self-punishment includes shaving heads, walking long distances with a backpack, running with weights, doing menial labour and three days in confinement.


Patton vs Rommel

By 1942, Rommel’s Afrika Corps has been pushed back to Tunisia and the new US tank force lands in North Africa. This is the story of the final North African battles as two of history’s most famed tank commanders – Patton and Rommel – go head to head.


A New Day in the Sunshine State

By Eamon Hale

Stephen Day DSC AM

As far as the RSL at a state and national level are concerned, RSL Queensland is a leader amongst them. Taking advantage of their significant cash assets raised predominantly through the RSL Art Union, the Queenslanders have led the national RSL in developing an impressive suite of research-informed services. Notable initiatives include the RSL Employment Program, Mates4Mates and Go Beyond.

Unfortunately, the Queensland branch has also had its share of controversy. In March 2018, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission issued a Directions Notice to RSL Queensland in in relation to governance, bookkeeping and questionable benefits to Directors. The then incoming President, Tony Ferris, had a major repair job on his hands.

Ferris, RSL Queensland’s youngest ever President, set off on a vigorous modernisation campaign to ensure the league was fit for purpose and able to stand up to legal and financial scrutiny. The culmination of these efforts came this year, with drafting a new constitution and a Membership Value Proposition (MVP), “to provide a simple and compelling description of the value and benefit of being an RSL member” and “to give a consistent message about why veterans and their families would want to join, stay and contribute to the RSL”.

The MPV set out that “RSL Queensland’s mission is to advocate for Veterans and the Defence Family. As members, you are supported to commemorate, connect and thrive throughout life.

It was a simple and dare I say sensible to attempt to draw the members of the state branch together in a unified and enduring purpose. But the delegates at Congress spoke and the MPV and Ferris as President are no more.

These outcomes must have clearly meant a hugely disappointing Congress for Ferris. The victor, Major General Stephen Day, reportedly didn’t stick around to listen to Ferris’s speech or hear the results of the election ballot. The early departure was interpreted by some as a snub and was perhaps not the graceful handover expected for an RSL State Congress. Others however commented on the positive tone of the congress and suggest that Day represents an opportunity to take the branch to a new level.

Indeed, it will be very interesting to see the style of leadership Day will bring to the role. With a CV that doesn’t require any padding his experience with RSL is however limited and he has not yet outlined his ambitions for the role. His rank and deployments to Namibia, East Timor, Iraq, and Afghanistan make his military qualifications plain to see, and his knowledge of governance through graduating from the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the United Stated National Association of Corporate Directors also put him in good stead.

Despite the election and constitution outcome, Tony Ferris deserves great recognition for a job well done. He leaves RSL Queensland in a vastly better position than when he began and he can be very proud of his record, remaining an excellent example of what a State President can be. Indeed, RSL Queensland generally is a shining example of what can be achieved with vision and willingness to get in and make things happen.

While it might have been galling for some that a relative newbie to the RSL (Day having only joined the Gaythorne Sub-Branch about 6 months ago) can nominate and win the senior position, it is at least a positive reflection on the strength of the RSL in Queensland that two quality candidates are willing to contest the presidency.

As for the future of RSL Queensland under Stephen Day, we will be watching with great hope and optimism.

With the Royal Commission into Veteran and Defence Suicide looming large, arguably the biggest veteran issue in generations, RSL members will be looking to Day to influence in champion much needed changes in response to its revelations.

My hope is that his recent strategic experience outside of the military, his reputation within it, and a personal vision will add a new and positive dimension to the way the RSL does business.

Eamon Hale is the Vice President of the Hawthorn RSL Sub-branch in Victoria, having served in the Australian Army as a cavalryman for 16 years. Eamon is a regular contributor to Australian Veteran News. Connect with Eamon on twitter: @eamhale