Wait list for Battle of Beersheba commemoration
The Sinai–Palestine Campaign began in 1916 after the Allied withdrawal from Gallipoli. While the majority of the Australian Imperial Force sailed for the Western Front, most of the mounted troops remained in Egypt to continue the war against the Ottoman Empire alongside soldiers from Britain and her dominions.
The campaign will be commemorated as part of the centenary of the Battle of Beersheba ceremony in Be’er Sheva, Israel, on 31 October 2017.
The 4th and 12th regiments of the Australian Light Horse successfully took the town of Beersheba after a mounted charge. This opened the way for British forces to break through the Ottoman line and capture Gaza and Jerusalem at the end of 1917. The Sinai–Palestine Campaign finally ended when the Ottomans signed an armistice on 31 October 1918.
Demand for attendance passes to the commemoration ceremony has been extremely high and site capacity was reached earlier than anticipated. Site capacity is limited due to the need to keep infrastructure to a minimum so that the cemetery and those who lie within are appropriately respected.
As a result, anyone who has registered since capacity was reached has had their name added to a waiting list. The waiting list is on a first-in basis, so we encourage anyone wishing to be placed on it to complete their registration as soon as possible. Those on the waiting list will be contacted if further attendance passes become available. At this stage we cannot guarantee attendance pass availability now that the site has reached capacity.
You can register on the Overseas Commemorations website.
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Medical expenses reimbursements increased
As of 1 April 2017, clients can claim a reimbursement of up to $1,000 for costs incurred in obtaining relevant documentary medical evidence to support a review or appeal by the Veterans’ Review Board (VRB) or the Specialist Medical Review Council (SMRC).
The reimbursement amount applies to each medical condition. The maximum reimbursement amount available previously was $467.50 per condition.
By reducing or eliminating costs associated with obtaining medical evidence, applicants will be more likely to obtain medical evidence to support their claim, resulting in applications to be resolved sooner.
The VRB is an independent tribunal that exists to review certain decisions made by the Repatriation Commission under the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986, and certain determinations under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004. More information is available on the VRB’s website (www.vrb.gov.au).
The SMRC is an independent statutory body responsible to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. On request from an eligible person or organisation the SMRC reviews certain decisions made by the Repatriation Medical Authority. The SMRC advises applicants to talk with the Secretariat before proceeding with any plans to obtain documentary medical evidence. More information is available on the SMRC’s website (www.smrc.gov.au).
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Sir John Monash Centre update
An important legacy of the Australian Government’s Anzac Centenary national program (2014–18) is to ensure an improved and broader understanding of Australia’s military experience, and carry forward the Anzac spirit and values.
In the horror of battle on the Western Front, a special relationship was forged between Australia and France. We do not need to look further than towns like Villers-Bretonneux to find evidence of this enduring friendship and bond.
The Sir John Monash Centre, currently being built near Villers-Bretonneux, will be integral to ensuring that legacy and strengthening that bond.
The centre, named after General Sir John Monash, who led the Australian Corps with outstanding success on the Western Front in 1918, will remain a lasting tribute to Monash and his men.
The centre will not be a traditional museum. Designed by Sydney-led international firm Cox Architecture, it will be built behind the Australian National Memorial. The heart of the centre will be a state-of-the-art integrated multimedia experience, developed in consultation with Australia’s leading historians and interpretive design teams.
The Sir John Monash Centre is likely to greatly increase the number of Australian visitors to the battlefields of the Western Front, and in so doing not only provide a lasting international legacy from the Centenary of Anzac, but also educate a new audience about Australia’s early role in international affairs.
The opening of the Centre in April 2018, marking the centenary of the historic battle to recapture Villers-Bretonneux, will be a fitting conclusion to Australia’s commemoration of the war that shaped us so profoundly as a nation.