Home' Vetaffairs : Summer 2015/16 Contents 2 — Vetaffairs Summer 2015
Vetaffairs is published by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs as a
free newspaper for Australia’s veteran community.
Editor James Caulfield
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mail GPO Box 9998 Canberra, ACT 2601
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As 2015 draws to a close, it’s natural to look
back on the year that was, and the achieve-
ments of DVA. I am pleased to say that we have
made a number of improvements and achieve-
ments throughout the year, particularly in
The Choice and Maintainability in Veter-
ans’ Services (CMVS) programme concluded
on 30 June 2015, with its functions rolled into
business as usual for the department. CMVS
delivered MyAccount, where clients can check
payments, claim reimbursement of approved
medical travel expenses, book medical trans-
port, request and download official letters, and
many more activities. It has been a major step
forward in the department’s online delivery of
The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
initiative has been trialled in NSW and the
ACT since 1 January 2015 and I am delighted to
report that it has been a success. In the first six
months of the trial, applications that had been
referred to ADR were finalised on average in 27
days and more than 51% of applications were
finalised without the need for a hearing.
We have continued to improve the efficiency
and timeliness of compensation claims pro-
cessing, with the pleasing result of reducing
claims processing times by three days under
the VEA, 35 days under MRCA and 20 days
under SRCA by mid-2015. The foundations
have been laid and processing times continue
to trend downwards.
2015 was of course a big year for commemo-
rations, with the 100 year anniversary of the
Gallipoli landings, as well as a number of
other significant anniversaries throughout
the year. The Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experi-
ence, which is supported by the Department,
the Australian War Memorial, the ADF, Telstra
and the Commonwealth Bank was recently
launched in Wodonga. The launch was the cul-
mination of a lot of hard work by the partners
and we look forward to the reactions of all Aus-
tralians who visit it as it tours the country over
the next couple of years.
We have a lot to look forward to in 2016.
You may recall that the Minister recently
announced his six priorities for DVA, as out-
lined in News from the Minister in the previous
edition of Vetaffairs. These priorities, along
with DVA’s Strategic Plan, will guide DVA activ-
ity over the next 12 months.
We expect to implement the next phase of
the Veterans’ Employment Assistance Initia-
tive, following the successful trial in 2015. This
initiative is an enhanced vocational rehabilita-
tion programme for former ADF members and
employers. Mental health will continue to be
a major focus for the department, as will con-
tinuing to strengthen our relationships with
ex-service organisations and the Departments
of Defence and Human Services.
January 2016 will see the end of an era for
DVA as our ACT staff move from our building
of 40 years, Lovett Tower in Woden, to the Gna-
bra building in Canberra’s centre. The move
will occur over two weekends and should not
disrupt client services.
Finally, I would like to wish all members of
the veteran and ex-service community a very
happy and safe festive break.
News from the Department
Simon Lewis, PSM
The Spring 2015 edition of Vetaffairs contained an
error in the article Where There’s Smoke...
The article stated that funding towards installation
costs for battery operated smoke alarms was limited
There is in fact no limit of funding towards the instal-
lation costs for battery operated smoke alarms.
Installation of battery operated smoke alarms and
installation of hard-wired smoke alarms under-
taken by a qualified electrician, will be funded under
RAP minor modifications for eligible beneficiaries.
Apologies for any inconvenience caused by this error.
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70th BCOF Anniversary
March of next year 2016 sees
the 70th Anniversary of the
formation of the British Com-
monwealth Occupation Force
(BCOF) an important commemo-
ration of which I have not seen any
The primary objective of BCOF
was to enforce the terms of the
unconditional surrender that had
ended the war.
The task of exercising military
government over Japan was the
responsibility of the United States
forces. However BCOF had the
important, and sometimes peril-
ous role, of maintaining military
control and supervision of the
demilitarisation and disposal
of the remnants of Japan’s war-
making capacity. To this end,
Australian Army and RAAF per-
sonnel were involved in locating
and securing military stores and
installations. Intelligence was
given targets to locate and investi-
gate by BCOF Headquarters, in the
form of grid references, for dumps
of Japanese military equipment.
Warlike materials were
destroyed and other equipment
was either retained by BCOF or
returned to the Japanese. The
destruction or conversion to
civilian use of military equip-
ment was carried out by Japanese
civilians under Australian super-
vision. Regular patrols and road
reconnaissance was initiated and
carried out in the Australian area
of responsibility as part of BCOF’s
general surveillance duties.
The Korean War is frequently
referred to as “The Forgotten War”
but BCOF in my opinion is far less
It is odd, particularly in this year,
when we have seen a number of
Commemorations, BCOF has not
been recognised and remains forgot-
ten except by those of us, who were
part of it and are still alive. And, this
number is rapidly diminishing as
the force, from my memory, seemed
to be mostly comprised of Second
World War veterans. BCOF was dis-
banded in 1951 and as a consequence
there would not be many of us who
are less than 90 years old .
Editor’s note: The Anzac Centenary 2014-
2018 program of events was developed in
close consultation with key stakeholders,
the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board and
the former Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.
Given the high number of campaigns,
conflicts and peacekeeping missions
that have occurred over the Century of
Service, it is not possible for the Australian
Government to formally commemorate
every significant anniversary. This in
no way takes away from the significant
role played by the members of BCOF
during the occupation. The Department
will also post about the BCOF on Anzac
Centenary social media channels over the
next few years, given the significant BCOF
anniversaries during that time.
Forgotten Honour Rolls
In October I was at a function at
the Uniting Church at Castlemaine.
Previously, this Church had been
a Methodist Church. During the
course of the afternoon a lady col-
lapsed and as I am a retired nurse
they located me to look after her
until the ambulance arrived. This
lady had been put in a storeroom.
I was concerned to see the Honour
Rolls of the Methodist boys that
had served in the First World War
were hanging in a storeroom. I men-
tioned this to one of the ambulance
officers and he told me that he had
seen similar Honour Rolls at the tip.
While I have no useful suggestion on
a practical solution, I just feel that
this memorabilia deserves more
respect. Probably there are many
other boards in a similar situation.
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Christmas Pension Payments
Pension payments that would normally be paid on Thursday 24 December will be
paid into bank accounts on Wednesday 23 December 2015. The first pension pay-
ment in 2016 will be made on schedule on 7 January 2016.
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