JOINT COMMUNIQUÉ – Veterans’ Ministers’ meeting
The third meeting of federal, state and territory Ministers responsible for veterans’ issues was held on the final day of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 to discuss opportunities for closer collaboration in supporting Australia’s veterans and their families.
Ministers acknowledged the success of this year’s Invictus Games and recognised the important platform the games provide for raising public awareness around veterans’ issues and showcasing the courage, strength and resilience of our wounded, injured and ill veterans.
At this year’s Veterans’ Ministers’ Round Table, Ministers discussed how members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) transition back into civilian life as well as employment, homelessness, mental health, veterans’ incarceration and suicide prevention efforts. Ministers were united in their commitment to ongoing collaboration and information sharing in these areas of joint interest.
A key focus of the discussion was around improving the transition process for those leaving the ADF, particularly as it relates to supporting veterans to access civilian employment. Ministers discussed research that highlighted the unemployment rate amongst veterans of 9 percent, 10 months after transition. Ministers agreed that the best support is the economic independence that comes with finding meaningful civilian employment. While significant work is being done at both the state and territory and federal levels to address this, more needs to be done across the jurisdictions in a concerted way. They further agreed the importance of promoting the skills, attributes and capabilities of Australia’s veterans and reinforcing the message that ‘hiring a veteran is good for your business.’
Ministers all recognised the need for robust data on veterans’ issues and strongly endorsed the need for a veteran indicator to be included in the 2021 Census.
The Round Table discussed the upcoming Centenary of the Armistice and plans for commemorations on Remembrance Day along with education and awareness activities surrounding this important anniversary. The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs updated the Round Table on the proposed Australian Veterans’ Covenant, Veterans’ Card and Veterans’ Lapel Pin which are intended as a legacy of the Anzac Centenary period. The Ministers committed to continued collaboration and to analyse harmonisation of state based concessions and grants programs.
The meeting took place in Sydney and coincided with the Invictus Games and a series of related veterans’ events, including the Veterans’ Families Forum, the Veterans’ Employment Forum, the Invictus 18 Symposium on transition, and the International Ministerial (5-Eyes) Conference on Veterans’ Issues.
In recognition of the importance of working together on veterans issues, Ministers endorsed a proposal to elevate the round table to a Veterans’ Ministerial Council. Terms of Reference for the Council will be determined at a future meeting.
Present at the Round Table were Federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, The Hon Darren Chester MP, Mr Mark Taylor MP, NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Veterans Affairs and the Centenary of ANZAC, The Hon John Eren MP, VIC Minister for Veterans, Mr Glenn Butcher MP, QLD Assistant Minister for Treasury, The Hon Peter Tinley AM MLA, WA Minister for Housing; Veterans Issues; Youth, The Hon Vickie Chapman MP, Deputy Premier, South Australia, The Hon Guy Barnett MP, TAS Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Mr Gordon Ramsay MLA, ACT Minister for Seniors and Veterans. The Northern Territory was represented by Ms Linda Fazldeen AM, NT Department of Trade, Business and Innovation.
The new Veterans’ Ministerial Council will next meet in the first quarter of 2019.