Statement from Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel

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The Hon Darren Chester MP

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Minister for Defence Personnel

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18 December 2020

Reappointed Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Darren Chester says continuing to deliver and promote better outcomes for military families will remain his primary focus.

Mr Chester said he was honoured to remain in the roles he has held since March 2018 and would focus on changing the public commentary surrounding issues impacting defence personnel.

“We have a world-class defence force and a world-class system to support our veterans and their families,” Mr Chester said.

“It’s not perfect, and work is being done to improve both, but if we want to keep attracting a fair share of Australia’s brightest talent to serve in uniform, it’s important that we stop talking down our military community. 

“The fact is throughout history, more than two million Australians have worn with pride the uniforms of the Navy, Army and Air Force and the overwhelming majority have served with distinction. They are the first people our nation turns to for national security, or when a natural disaster becomes too big for state authorities to manage.

“If we keep feeding our military community a media diet of hopelessness and helplessness, we can hardly be surprised when they struggle to find a pathway to better health and mental wellbeing.

“Throughout the remainder of this term in government, I will be doing everything I can to change that public commentary and demonstrate the respect our government has for ADF personnel, veterans and their families.”

Mr Chester said he was confident and optimistic the reforms made by the government over the past five years were heading in the right direction and delivering results.

“I will keep standing up for the interests of our servicemen and women, our veterans and their families,” Mr Chester said.

“Despite the travel restrictions imposed by the coronavirus, I’ve met with hundreds of veterans and defence personnel this year, and listened to their ideas on additional measures the government can take to support our veterans and their families, particularly during the transition phase to civilian life.

“We are continuing to work in partnership to transform DVA and focus on the wellbeing of our veterans and their families.”

Mr Chester said he was looking forward to continuing his excellent relationship with Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and newly appointed Assistant Minister Andrew Hastie.

“As a nation, we are indebted to the men and women who serve in uniform,” Mr Chester said.

“Our government is investing heavily in equipment, resources and the defence estate to ensure we have a highly capable defence force but it is the men and women in uniform who make the biggest difference.

“My role as Minister for Defence Personnel is to ensure they continue to be well prepared for their task, they are respected by our community, and properly supported during their military service. 

“The ADF needs to keep attracting its share of the best and brightest young Australians and we will do that by looking after our serving men and women throughout their careers, and when they transition to civilian life.”

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