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Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley today launched the key findings of the Middle East Area of Operations Census and Prospective Health Studies.

These studies are part of the Military Health Outcomes Program (MilHOP), a significant body of research commenced in 2010 to determine the impact of operational deployment on the health and wellbeing of our service men and women.

Minister for Defence Science and Personnel and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Warren Snowdon said the Departments of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs are better prepared today to help those who develop mental health concerns than during any other conflict in history.

“Defence and Veterans’ Affairs have been working closely together to improve their practices to ensure ADF personnel receive the care and support they require and that the transition from Defence to Department of Veterans’ Affairs is a smooth one.

“The health of our service men and women, and particularly their mental health, remains a priority for the Government,” Mr Snowdon said.

More than 14,000 veterans volunteered to participate in the Census Health Study which collected data from ADF personnel who had deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations between October 2001 and December 2009.

The Census Health Study included questionnaires related to deployment history, health and experiences on deployment.

The Prospective Study was also voluntary and collected data on personnel prior to deployment and again after returning home. This included ADF members who deployed to the MEAO after June 2010 and returned from deployment in June 2012.

The Prospective Study examined life experiences, lifetime trauma exposure and information on previous military service. A sub-set of primarily combat personnel also participated in physical tests and neurocognitive assessments.

General Hurley said Defence has been helping people to deal with the mental health effects of operational service for a number of years and we will continue to do so when the majority of ADF personnel redeploy from Afghanistan later this year.

“The studies showed that ADF members who have deployed on operations in the Middle East are generally healthy, both physically and mentally.

“The results of these studies will further inform policy and targeted health programs designed to support Australian Defence Force members and their families.

“Ensuring the most effective preventative measures and best quality treatment and rehabilitation for our ADF personnel remains our highest priority.

“We must continually assess and reassess our policy and programs to guarantee we remain a world leader in this field and we must continue our work to break down the stigma associated with mental health issues,” General Hurley said.

Media note:
Vision of the launch and round table will be available from Parliament House.

Transcripts will be available at: http://news.defence.gov.au/category/transcript/

Copies of the studies are available at: http://www.defence.gov.au/health/home/i-MilHOP_Message.htm

Media contacts:
Minister Snowdon’s office: Marcus Butler (02) 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999

The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel Warren Snowdon and the Minister for Defence Materiel Mike Kelly today announced changes to the way in which military superannuation retirement pay will be indexed for the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits (DFRB) scheme and the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits (DFRDB) scheme.

The schemes were closed in 1972 and 1991, respectively.

From 1 July 2014, payments to military superannuants aged 65 and over, within the DFRB and DFRDB schemes, will be indexed to the higher of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (PBLCI).

The estimated cost over four years is $34 million. Currently, there are some 56,500 superannuants in the two schemes and approximately 26,700 are aged 65 and over who will benefit from this announcement.

This measure strikes the right balance by assisting many of our older military retirees while being fiscally responsible in the current economic climate.

PBLCI was first used as an indexation factor for the age pension in September 2009 and the Government has decided to include it in the indexation of military superannuation retirement pay for the two schemes.

The Government acknowledges the advocacy of ex-service organisations on this issue and in particular the Returned and Services League of Australia and the Defence Force Welfare Association.

Today’s announcement builds on a comprehensive program of support and recognition by the Australian Government for our veteran community since 2007.

The Government will continue its commitment to engage with service and ex-service organisations to consider the benefits and support available to our current and former service personnel.

Media contacts:

Minister Snowdon’s office: Marcus Butler (02) 6277 7820

Dr Kelly’s Office: Robbie Rynehart (02) 6277 7730 or 0459 810 654

Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999

A Ceremony is being held in Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery in France this afternoon, to dedicate the headstones of five recently identified Australian First World War soldiers.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Science and Personnel Warren Snowdon said Privates William Barber, Thomas Bills, Thomas Francis, William O’Donnell and John McKenzie were identified by the Joint Fromelles Project in 2013.

“Previously the headstones of these Australian soldiers were marked ‘Known unto God,’ now they include the names of these brave men,” Mr Snowdon said.

Since 2008 the Joint Australian Army and UK Ministry of Defence Fromelles Project has resulted in the recovery and reburial of 250 Australian and British soldiers killed during the Battle of Fromelles on 19-20 July 1916.

“The joint project has resulted in the identification of 124 Australian soldiers to date, including the five identified this year.

“The identification project is a result of the great work and dedication of Greek-Australian Lambos Englezos AM, his research lead to the discovery of the burial site of these soldiers of the First World War.

“The Battle of Fromelles remains to this day the worst 24 hours inAustralia’s war history: 5,533 Australians were killed, wounded, missing or taken prisoner of war in that one day.”

Mr Snowdon said the story of the 1916 Battle of Fromelles, and the recovery of the 250 missing Australian and British soldiers from Pheasant Wood some 93 years later, will be told in a new museum, due to open in Fromelles early next year.

“The Australian Government has contributed more than €820,000  (approximately 1.15 million AUD) to the development of a new Battle of Fromelles Museum, adjacent to the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery,” he said.

The Museum is one element of the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front, a commemorative trail highlighting key sites along the Western Front that allow visitors to interpret the Australian experience of war. 

An overview of the Australian Remembrance Trail sites is available at www.ww1westernfront.gov.au.  

Media note: The dedication ceremony will be held at 1700 (Paris time) Friday 19 July 2013, in Fromelles, around 0100 (AEST) Saturday 20 July.

 

Media contacts:

Minister Snowdon’s office: Marcus Butler 02 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media (02) 6289 6203

The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, today announced that the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) is now offering scholarships in science and engineering for female high school and undergraduate students through three of Australia’s leading universities.

 The participating universities are the Australian National University, the University of New South Wales and University of Adelaide. 

“These scholarships will encourage high-performing female students to take up or continue undergraduate studies in science and engineering,” Mr Snowdon said.

“There is a significant imbalance in the ratio between female and male students and graduates studying science and engineering, so DSTO is introducing this scholarship scheme as an incentive for female students.”

Each of the three universities will award four scholarships to female students enrolled in undergraduate programs in either engineering, computer science, physics, chemistry or mathematics. The scholarships will be available from second semester 2013 (July), over a four year study period.

The students will be mentored by DSTO scientists for the duration of their studies and undertake projects relevant to DSTO.

Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit either through an applicant’s Year 12 school results or undergraduate results. Other factors such as interest in a career in Defence, community leadership, involvement with extra-curricular activities and referee reports will also be taken into account.

Scholarship students who have completed a minimum of two years full time study will also have the opportunity to participate in DSTO’s Summer Vacation program.

“This is an invaluable opportunity to gain work experience on practical, real-world problems that scientists and engineers deal with every day to find solutions for Defence capability,” Mr Snowdon said.

“These scholarships demonstrate DSTO’s commitment to broadening Australia’s scientific base which will provide Defence with access to a diverse, strong pool of talented scientists for the future.”

Further information on the new scholarships is available at  http://www.dsto.defence.gov.au/female_student_scholarships/

Media contacts:

Minister Snowdon’s office: Marcus Butler (02) 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999

Fifteen NORFORCE soldiers have been presented the Operational Service Medal for their service on long-range patrols in northern Australia as part of Operation RESOLUTE, highlighting the unit’s important role in protecting the north Australian coastline.

Receiving their medal at a parade in Darwin today, the soldiers are the first of 29 NORFORCE personnel awarded the medal.

The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, joined the unit’s Honourary Colonel and Administrator of the Northern Territory, Her Honour the Honourable Sally Thomas AM, at the presentation ceremony which marked the 32nd anniversary of the raising of NORFORCE.

“Since its formation in 1981, the men and women of the North West Mobile Force have played a crucial role in Australia’s multi-agency border protection activities,” Mr Snowdon said.

“Many of NORFORCE’s soldiers come from remote communities in the region, and we rely on their local knowledge and contacts to keep our border secure.

“Today we recognise and thank them for their valuable contribution to Australia’s border security. With this award providing worthy and just recognition for all of those involved in these often difficult circumstances.”

NORFORCE personnel are drawn from throughout the unit’s Area of Operations, which covers the whole of the Northern Territory and the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

NORFORCE’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Paul O’Donnell, said he was very proud that NORFORCE soldiers were among the first Army personnel to receive the Operational Service Medal.

The Operational Service Medal was approved in 2012 and is awarded to Defence personnel who take part in operations deemed worthy of warranting special recognition.

Media contact:

Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999