Mayo veterans take issues to the Minister
Mental health services for younger veterans, cuts to advocacy funding and improving disability access at veteran facilities were some of the key issues raised by community leaders and veteran groups when the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Darren Chester, visited Mayo today.
Photograph: Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester with Mount Barker RSL Vice President June Perry and Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie at a morning tea at the Macclesfield RSL Sub-branch.
The Minister was the guest of the Federal Member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie, who organised a round table discussion on veteran support services for stakeholders at the Strathalbyn RSL followed by a morning tea for local RSL and veteran group representatives at the Macclesfield RSL.
“The Minister was extremely generous with his time and I know he appreciated the welcome he received from our veteran community as much as they appreciated the opportunity to raise their concerns directly with him,” Rebekha said.
“He made a point of saying he was here to ‘ground truth’ veteran service policies going into the Federal election and the Minister made a number of positive comments about the value of veteran advocacy and the importance of access to appropriate mental health services for our younger veterans.
“Our community representatives were able to raise their concerns about funding cuts to RSL advocacy services in South Australia and the condition of ageing RSL and Memorial Halls in this State, particularly in relation to disability access.
“I was also encouraged about the Minister’s support for the Headstone Project to ensure the graves of all our WW1 veterans are suitably marked, a campaign I have been very supportive of locally and nationally.
“I thank the Minister for taking the time to visit our electorate and chat informally with our veterans.
“I know local WW2 veteran and Mt Barker RSL member Colin Wagener, aged 101, was pleased to receive a commemorative poppy badge from the Minister during the morning tea at Macclesfield.”
Special guests at the two functions included Department of Veterans’ Affairs Secretary Elizabeth Cosson, Repatriation Commission Deputy President Craig Orme, Bob Willis from Legacy South Australia, Di Greene from Soldier On, John Mannion from the Breakthrough Foundation and the Mayors of Alexandrina Mayor Keith Parkes, Mount Barker Mayor Ann Ferguson and Adelaide Hills Mayor Jan-Claire Wisdom.
Minister Darren Chester was sworn in as the Minister for Veterans' Affairs in March 2018 and is responsible for the operations of the Department of Veterans' Affairs.