I am honoured to have been reappointed as Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel as part of the Morrison-McCormack Government.
I understand this is the first time in 27 years the Veterans’ Affairs portfolio has been included as a Cabinet portfolio, reflecting our Government’s commitment to putting veterans and their families first.
During my time as Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel, I have met with hundreds of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel, veterans, and their families right across Australia. Their feedback and suggestions have helped form government policy to further support our veterans and their families, particularly during their transition back into civilian life.
We have implemented free mental health care for life for all veterans, regardless of whether the condition is a result of their military service. We will continue to implement policies such as the six veterans’ wellbeing centres across Australia, new employment initiatives, the digitisation of Second World War service records, the Veteran Covenant, Card and Lapel Pin and improved access to mental health first aid for ex-service organisations.
Yesterday’s announcement that our Government will establish a National Commissioner for Defence and Suicide Prevention is a priority as we work to ensure our veterans and their families have the help they need, when and where they need it.
I look forward to continuing to work closely with Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC, on ensuring the men and women who serve our country in the ADF are well supported both during and after service.
While we have achieved a lot, we know there is more to do and we are absolutely committed to ensuring our veterans and their families are looked after.
Following the recent callout of ADF personnel in response to bushfires across the country, there is no question of the essential role our Defence Force plays in times of disaster. I will be working closely with my colleague the Minister for Emergency Management, the Hon David Littleproud MP, the ADF and federal and state agencies to see how we can fully utilise our personnel when we face these difficult times in the future.
Our ADF personnel are highly skilled and well-renowned around the world for their professionalism, expertise and humanity. As their Minister, I am committed to ensuring they are well supported and have the training and resources they need to perform at their best.
The ADF must continue to attract its share of the best and brightest young Australians to serve in uniform and we are committed to ensuring they will receive the support, respect and recognition they deserve.
I offer my thanks to the departmental staff at both Defence and DVA for their support and dedication to looking after our Defence personnel and veterans.
I say to all current and former members of the ADF, thank you for your service.