Senior Australian soldier next Repatriation Commissioner

For the first time, a former Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army has been appointed as the new Repatriation Commissioner with outgoing Commissioner Major General Mark Kelly AO, DSC completing his appointment on 30 June this year.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester today announced Mr Don Spinks AM, who recently retired from the Australian Defence Force with almost 40 years’ experience, had been appointed as the new Repatriation Commissioner and as a Member of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission for a period of five years from 1 July 2019.

“Mr Spinks is highly qualified and well-respected, has an impressive military career serving on multiple overseas deployments and has capably represented the concerns and views of soldiers to the Chief of Army and senior leadership over a lengthy period,” Mr Chester said.

“As Commissioner, Mr Spinks will be able to use his recent service experience to assist in addressing contemporary issues faced by veterans and their families, I congratulate Mr Spinks on his appointment.”

Prior to taking up his full duties on 1 July, Mr Spinks has been appointed a Commissioner on the Repatriation Commission and will receive a comprehensive handover from Major General Kelly who has served on the Commission since 2010.

Mr Chester thanked Major General Kelly for his contribution and invaluable service to the Repatriation Commission and the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission since 1 July 2010.

“The work of the Commissions is pivotal in the development of effective policy and programs, and the efficient delivery of services for veterans and their families,” Mr Chester said.

“In his almost 10 years, Major General Kelly has achieved a great deal in support of veterans and their families, most recently in advancing Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling, a service that is vitally important to the ex-service community by providing early intervention and longer term mental health treatment services.

“On behalf of the ex-service community, I thank Major General Kelly and wish him all the best for the future.”

Mr Spinks served in a number of senior roles during his Army career, including 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Multi National Force and Observers — Sinai Egypt, 1st Brigade, Joint Task Force 633 on Operation Slipper and the Command Sergeant Major Forces Command — Army.

The Repatriation Commission grants pensions and benefits, and provides treatment and other services under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 to veterans and members of the Australian Defence Force, their partners, widows, widowers and children. The Commission also provides advice to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs on related issues.

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Army News Edition 1438, March 21, 2019:

AIMING TRUE: Training Team Sierra on target training troops in Iraq  Page 3

AERIAL ADVANTAGE: Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters, Chinooks and MRH90 Taipans on display at airshow – Pages 8-9
FIREPOWER RANGES: Abrams tanks test capability at Wide Bay Training Area – Centre

And in sport:

RAMPAGE: Women dominate on the inter-service rugby league field – Pages 23-24



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2019 Major Events

Members and Friends of the RARA SA.

On Friday 5 April 2019, we will commence our Major Events with yet another successful Greek Night!  Courtesy of Tim Karasoulos and family.


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ALP Media Release

Welcome to my March E-bulletin, my quarterly newsletter updating you on my work as Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel.

Since the last Bulletin there have been a number of pressing issues.

As you are probably aware, late last year the Productivity Commission released their review into the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which made a number of recommendations including the dismantling of the Department.

Labor’s response was swift and clear, we do not support the abolishing of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs as a stand-alone entity.

We know the Department is not perfect, however, we firmly believe in the importance of the Department and will fight to retain it.

The Government’s response to the report has been to wait for the final report to come out before making any decisions – which is conveniently due after the next election. Frankly, this isn’t good enough. The Government should be clear with veterans and their loved ones before the election about their intentions for the future of the Department.

In addition, the Veterans’ Advocacy and Support Services Study was released this week. I am aware of ex-service organisations who have been waiting to see the results of this study before continuing training advocates. It took the Government more than three months from the time they received the report until they released it. Given it has only just been released, I am looking over the details of the report and will have more to say in the coming weeks.

What is clear from the report is that more focus is needed on supports for families. This is something which Labor is seeking to address through our National Family Engagement and Support Strategy.

If Labor is elected, this strategy will be co-designed with families of both current and ex-serving defence personnel to provide a national blueprint for engagement and support for military families.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge all the winners of the 2019 Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards. Congratulations to those organisations and individuals who were recognised on the night. Thank you for the work you are doing to address the important issues of veterans unemployment and partner employment.

As always, if there is anything I can do to assist, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Feel free to pass this bulletin on to anyone you think might find it of interest.
Yours sincerely

Amanda Rishworth MP 
Federal Member for Kingston


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Australian Veterans’ Recognition Bill

In October 2018, the Australian Government launched an Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant to provide better recognition of the unique nature of military service and further acknowledge the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families.

The Prime Minister, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP and the Hon. Darren Chester, MP made a joint media statement on 27 October 2018 stating that the Government will develop an Australian Defence Veterans Covenant (Covenant), to be enacted in legislation, to recognise the unique nature of military service and support veterans and their families.

The Covenant will provide an opportunity for Australians and the business community to recognise veterans and their families and the service and sacrifice they have made as members of the Australian Defence Force.

On 14 February 2019 the Australian Veterans’ Recognition (Putting Veterans and their Families First) Bill 2019 was introduced in the House of Representatives.

On 20 February, Minister Chester announced that legislation for the Covenant – the Australian Veterans’ Recognition (Putting Veterans and their Families First) Bill 2019 – has now been introduced into Federal Parliament. Supporting the Covenant is a new Australian Veteran Card and Lapel Pin to provide a way for the public, employers, businesses and community groups to recognise and connect with current and former ADF personnel.

The Bill will create a new Act, the Australian Veterans’ Recognition (Putting Veterans and their Families First) Act 2019.

This Bill is part of the Veteran Recognition package designed to provide recognition to veterans and their families. As part of the recognition package, a lapel pin and the Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant will be distributed to veterans. The lapel pin will allow veterans to be easily identifiable by the Australian community where they choose to wear it.

Further information, including the text of the Bill, Explanatory Memorandum, and Minister’s Second Reading Speech

The Selection of Bills Committee referred the Bill to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee for enquiry and report by 22 March 2019.

The Bill was referred to provide veterans an opportunity to review, be satisfied with and have their say on the Bill.

Submissions close on 6 March 2019.Access the report.

Information on how to make a submission.

More information on the Australian Defence Veterans’ Covenant and the other Bills introduced to Federal Parliament can be found on the DVA website.


Regards, Liz


Liz Cosson AM CSC


Department of Veterans’ Affairs

t02 6289 6736 ext616736e

To support those who serve or have served in the defence of our nation and commemorate their service and sacrifice.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs acknowledge the traditional owners and we pay our respect to elders past, present and future.

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50th Anniversary Battle of Hat Dich Commemoration Service

On Tuesday 19th February 2019 the RAR Association SA conducted a combined units commemorative service for the Battle of Hat Dich (3 December 1968 to 19 February 1969).

The Service was very well supported by the 1st Armoured Regiment and attended by various members of State Parliament and the Mayor of Burnside Council, Anne Monceaux, who has been very supportive of the RARA SA.  The Service was organised by Mr Ceremonial, Adrian Craig, and Russell Campbell was the Master of Ceremonies.

Below are a number of photos of the Service, as always, click on the photo for more detail.

Burnett, Bennett, Rogers - Hat DichCatafalque Party Hat DichCatherine & Guests  Hat DichPiper Hat Dich




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Film posted by John Neervoort

I have posted a number of videos on Youtube of film that I took on 6RAR’s second tour in 1969-70. Each video is about 5 minutes long.  There is no commentary, just appropriate sounds of aircraft/guns/armour and background music. I originally did these for the National Vietnam Veterans Museum so they could be used on a free standing TV operated by the viewer alongside the museum item on display (eg, film of guns firing next to a 105mm howitzer).

One special film is when I went on a flight with Jade 8 (between operations) and witnessed an airstrike by Canberra bombers from the air. Years later after contacting Chris in Texas, he said he had taped the cockpit conversations between the Forward Air Controller (himself) and a flight of Canberra bombers on a similar airstrike. I have included that to add to the authenticity. I believe the film of the bombs dropping from the Canberra is unique in that can only be done from the perspective of a Forward Air Controller.

Vietnam War Aussie Armour

Vietnam War Aussie Artillery

Vietnam War Aussie Airstrike

Vietnam War Aussie Infantry

Vietnam War Aussie Hueys

Vietnam War Aussie Navy

Vietnam War Aussie R&C Vung Tau

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We need your stories!

Your contacts in the Vietnam veteran community have an opportunity to record personal stories for the future.  Can I ask you to put the question and encourage stories to be told.

The Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia is working towards the production of a record of our history.  We need your stories! A book on the war is in the works, thanks to a top Australian publisher.

And we need your stories, yarns, reflections, anecdotes and more to make it be the book we aim for. This book will tell the history of the war under the working title of “Our Vietnam, Heroes, The People, The Stories & the facts”

Any stories funny or wry, sad or sombre, offering insights, untold tales and thoughts that reflect what the 50,000 Aussies who went to Vietnam went through.

Many histories are told through the memories of top brass and we want a dinkum account that as near as possible captures the spirit of Vietnam Diggers as the war retreats from the memory of some people, but remains alive to so many others. We want to preserve those memories forever in the best way possible.

Send your stories to the Editor V.V.A.A. Debrief, at aim for up to 1000 words, and they will be forwarded to the publisher.

Ken Foster OAM JP

Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia

National President

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Crowd Funding Exercise

There are strong reasons to support this campaign.

Duty First

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December 2018 Edition of the Infantryman

This is the current issue of the Infantryman

Infantryman December 2018 FINAL

Below for August 2018

Infantryman August

Below for March 2018

Infantryman final 2 March 2018

Below is December 2017

Infantryman December 2017 Dec 4

Below is the August 2017 issue

Infantryman August 2017

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RARA SA 70th Birthday Party

We had a very successful and entertaining party with guests and members enjoying the display provided by Ken Duthie, the jocularity of Rod Graham and historical perspective provided by Fred Fairhead.

Attached is the address given by Fred and a copy of the handout provided for all attendees.

RAR 70th Address

RAR Postcard

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A Duty Done 2nd edition – as of 16 Nov 18

Here is a copy of the 2nd edition of A Duty Done;

A Duty Done 2nd Ed

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Latest Issue of Holdfast for August 2018, Issue No 32

Here is the latest Holdfast.

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Regimental Dinner 2018

Yet again, a highly enjoyable and successful Dinner with fabulous food, great friends and wonderful comradeship.

A selection of photos below


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Latest Photos from the RARA SA

Greek Night – 4 May 18.

A highly successful evening with more than 65 guests enjoying a feast provided by Tim, Tas, Con & Sia.


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RARA SA Wine Tasting 25 March 2018

What a great afternoon of eating drinking and generally making merry with wonderful friends along with our two very learned wine experts in William Smidmore and Mike von Berg.  Of course without the wonderful team of workers who made it all happen and come together  and of course the Caterers who did a fabulous job and making life a little easier for the team – if I mention names then sure as eggs somebody will be left out and we cannot let that happen.    

So a great day had by all. Cheers. Mrs. Vice (aka Lynn Graham)

And photos – courtesy of Penelope & Bruce Forster – below, as always, click on photos for better viewing and captions.


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RARA SA Regimental Dinner 19 Aug 2017

Here are a few photos of our highly successful dinner.  As always, by selecting a photo you will be able to view a better photo as well as the caption for it.

And some nostalgic memories of our May 2013 Regimental Dinner


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Two Items Worth Revisiting

Click on the image for improved viewing, 1967 I think.


Join Army

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RCB Update

Please view the latest news on the RCB campaign here RCB Update

There is an extensive history to this campaign under the Advocacy tab (above).

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