RARA National President’s Update on Various Advocacy Matters

Hi Team,

This Update brings you up to speed with a few issues in which I have been involved over the last few weeks and which hopefully will be influential in the Government’s decisions.

Recognition for KIAs NOK

Based on our RARA original submission and discussions at RARA Council meetings in relation to some form of recognition for the NOK, I appeared as a witness at a DHAT Inquiry into this subject on 13th May 2021. It was in the form of almost a fireside chat that covered a whole range of issues which the committee had already received a stack of submissions from other bodies and individuals. To their credit the committee had conducted considerable international research as to what other countries were doing to recognize this award to appropriate individuals and families.

I explained that our RARA original submission was to consider KIA only and not wounded but that our RAR family were also keen for us to look at WIA: but because this was a very complex subject, we didn’t achieve a consensus due to the matter of PTSD which we felt was a minefield of conjecture and potential dispute that we didn’t feel qualified to address.

The feeling that I got from the meeting was that the DHAT was very favourable to the award of a medal for the NOK of KIA and that they would be conducting greater investigation into some form of recognition for those that were WIA. (When asked my opinion on the classification of WIA which was a question without notice I simply answered “must have drawn blood”). They were very keen to follow the PTSD issue and although it is a bit of a pandora’s box the Canadians in their system of recognitions seemed to have managed that part of it very well. Let’s see what evolves, but I’m confident at least that the recognition for KIA’s NOK will get up in some form or the other.

DVA Contracted Staff

The matter of the contract employees, which we had flagged to DVA, has been addressed in part in the latest Federal Budget with the addition of 440 new full-time employees in DVA was discussed at an ESORT Team meeting earlier this week.

I asked what the process and timelines would be so that DVA can address the backloads of claims. The answer was that 200 of the very best current contract labour individuals would be offered full-time employment as soon as possible and that processes were already in place to recruit the other 220.

I also raised the fact that this backload of claims also involves newly widowed individuals where the slow adjustment of claims following the death of their TPI husband or partner is causing considerable anguish and anxiety. DVA is going to ring these new widows to allay them of any fears as to their adjusted claims: most are Vietnam era widows.         

Public Consultation to Inform Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide

I’ve been involved in preparing a submission for the last few weeks. In doing so I’ve taken on board what others have suggested and from my own experience made our RARA Submission as a personal one from me here

At the closing date 21st May 2021 over 1400 submissions have been received.

The DVA Minister has advised that the consultation phase has now concluded and all feedback provided to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) will be passed to the Attorney-General’s Department, who will draft the Terms of Reference.

Duty First

Michael von Berg MC OAM
RARA National

The RAR National Association is dedicated to protecting the well-being and services entitlements of our RAR family by direct advocacy and representation to Government.