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El Alamein and Kokoda anniversaries

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The next two weeks represent an important time in the Anzac Centenary program with the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein on 23 October, followed by the 75th anniversary of Kokoda Track and the Beachheads on 2 November.

Three major battles occurred around El Alamein in Egypt between July and November 1942, and the Australian Imperial Force figured prominently in two of them. Over the five months, Australia suffered almost 6,000 casualties.

The battle was a decisive victory for the Allies, halting the Axis advance on Cairo and enhancing the already formidable reputation of the Australian 9th Division.

Twenty-six veterans of the Battle of El Alamein will attend a Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) on 23 October to mark the anniversary.

Between July and November 1942, Australians were also fighting along the Kokoda Track in some of the most iconic battles in Australia’s history.

On 2 November 1942, Australia retook the village of Kokoda and, joined by American troops, went on to win the final battles of the campaign at the Buna, Gona and Sanananda Beachheads.

Dislodging the Japanese from Papua came at an enormous cost, with the entire Kokoda campaign resulting in more than 1,800 Australian lives lost and more than 3,600 wounded or struck down with illness.

Eleven Kokoda veterans will attend a Last Post Ceremony at the AWM on 2 November to commemorate the anniversary of the campaign.

The public is encouraged to attend both Last Post Ceremonies and to pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice of the Australians who fought in both campaigns.

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New rehabilitation and compensation legislation

From 12 October 2017, the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA) replaced the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA) for current and former members who have injuries or illnesses arising from their service prior to 1 July 2004.
 
The DRCA duplicates the SRCA, but has been modified to cover only current and former ADF members and their dependants.

Eligibility and benefits under the DRCA will be the same as those that were available under the SRCA. Those members and dependants with existing claims and entitlements under the SRCA will now be automatically covered by the DRCA instead. 
 
The commencement of the new Act does not alter the eligibility and benefits currently available under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 or the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986.
 
The new Act gives the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs responsibility for all rehabilitation and compensation schemes that cover current and former ADF members and will recognise the unique nature of military service. 
 
Further information on the DRCA, and on making a claim for rehabilitation and/or compensation due to a service-related injury or illness, can be found on the DRCA page of the DVA website.

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Mental health support and abuse compensation made simpler

Are you struggling to cope because of something that happened to you in the Australian Defence Force (ADF)?
 
All current and former members of the ADF who have at least one day continuous full-time service, including Reservists, are able to access treatment for any mental health condition. The condition does not have to be related to ADF service and a diagnosis is not required.
 
To access treatment, call
1800 555 254 or email nlhc@dva.gov.au.
 
The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service also provides the veteran community and their families with specialist free counselling and group programs. 
 
This service is available at all times by phoning 1800 011 046, or via its website at www.vvcs.gov.au.
 
If your condition relates to having been sexually or physically abused while serving, DVA has introduced measures that may make it simpler for you to access compensation and to receive the mental health support you need.
 
DVA has broadened the use of statutory declarations as part of abuse compensation claims, making it possible for such a declaration to constitute sufficient evidence to establish that abuse took place, in some instances. 
 
For example, if you were abused before 11 April 2011 and you were a child at the time, a statutory declaration alone will now be sufficient to establish that an abuse event occurred (provided that there is no contradictory evidence).
 
Please note, however, that if you were an adult at the time of the abuse, or the abuse took place after 11 April 2011, supporting evidence will also be required in addition to a statutory declaration. A statutory declaration in these instances will be taken as strong evidence in favour of the claim.
 
Claims will be determined on the basis of all available evidence.
 
These changes make it easier to prove that abuse occurred, if it was not reported at the time. This change will benefit those who may not have reported abuse at the time it occurred or may never have previously spoken about it.
 
DVA has established dedicated teams to manage all new claims relating to sexual and physical abuse, ensuring that all claims are managed with sensitivity and discretion.

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Remembrance Day educational kits

Schools across Australia will receive an educational kit developed by DVA to help them plan personal and respectful learning and commemorative activities for Remembrance Day (11 November).

The kit contains a Remembrance Day commemorative poster, the 2018 DVA calendar, an educational resource, and flyers promoting new online publications about Australian peacekeeping and the 2018 Anzac Day Schools Awards.

It will build students’ understanding of Australia’s involvement in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

This year’s Remembrance Day poster will honour the significant contribution of Australian Peacekeepers over the last 70 years, while the 2018 calendar will feature works by Australia’s official war artists, from the First World War to the present.

The educational resource is a key part of this year’s kit. Entitled Comradeship: Stories of friendship and recreation in wartime, it is the sixth instalment in the Century of Service series.

The resource explores stories of Australians finding joy and laughter in simple pleasures like sport and music among the horrors of war.

Schools will receive the educational kit in October with resources also available to download on the DVA Anzac Portal.

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS)

A free and confidential counselling service for Australian veterans, peacekeepers and their families. For more information on VVCS services and eligibility, please visit the VVCS website or phone 1800 011 046.

Veterans' Affairs e-News is a regular service provided by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

Comments or feedback on Veterans' Affairs e-News may be sent to AMBENEWS@dva.gov.au

Department of Veterans' Affairs

GPO box 9998

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