Current 2022 Council Members

Mr John Godwin – Interim Chair

During his Royal Australian Navy career, John served as a Weapons Electrical Engineering Officer and spent most of his seagoing service in Anzac Class Frigates, including HMA Ships Arunta and Stuart, and an operational deployment to the Middle East in 2004 for which he received a Maritime Commander Australia Commendation as the boarding officer in HMAS Stuart.

John is currently General Manager Defence Support for Adelaide-based Nova Systems, reporting to the Chief Executive, Nova Systems Australia and a member of the Senior Leadership Team.

With Nova Systems since 2009, John has most recently been responsible for tendering, winning and delivering the complex and transformative Major Service Provider contract to Defence, a decade long engagement providing program and project services involving many hundreds of personnel through a consortium led by Nova as prime contractor, with PwC and QinetiQ, plus a large integrated supplier network including more than one hundred small and medium businesses.

John is a board member of The Road Home (Repat Foundation) Board of Governors and the South Australian Veterans’ Health Advisory Council (VHAC), which advises the South Australian Minister for Health and Wellbeing on veterans matters.

John is a member of the Naval Association of Australia, having previously served as the Vice President for the Port Adelaide sub section.

Colonel Chris Burns CSC

Colonel Burns enlisted in the Australian Army as an apprentice electrician in 1975 and graduated from the Officer Cadet School, Portsea in 1979.

A Royal Australian Armoured Corps officer, Colonel Burns has served in the 1st Armoured Regiment, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd/9th South Australian Mounted Rifles, and 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry). He has also served as an instructor at the First Recruit Training Battalion and the Royal Military College, Duntroon.

In 1988-89 he was seconded to the United Nations as a military observer in the Middle East. During this secondment he saw service on the Golan Heights in Syria, in Iran for the establishment of the ceasefire between Iran and Iraq and in the Gaza Strip during the ‘Palestinian Uprising’ or ‘Intifada’.

He was promoted to the rank of Colonel and appointed as the Director of Operations for the Australian Army in January 2002. In that appointment he was responsible for the strategic level planning and management of preparedness and operations involving Australian Army forces. This included significant operations in East Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Solomon Islands. For his role in the planning and conduct of operations in Iraq he was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC).

Subsequent to this he was posted as the Australian Defence Attaché in Manila where he focussed on counter-terrorism operations in the Southern Philippines. In this role he was awarded the Legion of Honour by the Philippine Government.

Chris is currently South Australia’s Mental Health Commissioner, Honorary Colonel of 3rd/9th Light Horse, a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management – SA, a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Certified Professional Manager and the former Chief Executive Officer of the Defence Teaming Centre. Chris is a Director on the Legacy SA Board and is a member of the RSL.

Ms Cheryl Cates

Cheryl Cates enlisted into the Regular Army on 2nd May 1973. On completion of Recruit Training Cheryl’s initial employment was a clerk administrative, then as a member of the Transport Corps in the Movements Section.

Cheryl transferred to the Military Police School in a clerical role and in 1985 was transferred to the Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps where she carried out multiple postings around Australia over the next 23 years.

On completion of her military service, Cheryl worked at the RSL National Headquarters in Canberra for 10 years and served on the Board of Directors of the Sir Leslie Morshead War Veterans’ Homes.

On moving to Adelaide, Cheryl was appointed to the RSL SA/NT State Branch Ethics Committee and has remained on that committee for 14 years.

Cheryl was President of the South Australian Women’s Football League for seven years and, with her husband, lobbied the AFL to introduce a National Women’s Competition.

In July 2019, Cheryl was elected as President, RSL SA/NT State Board. Cheryl is also on the Board of Directors of the RSL’s Avoca Hotel and RSL Care.

Air Commodore Margot Forster CSM

Margot joined the Defence Teaming Centre as Chief Executive Officer in December 2016 after a long and distinguished career in the Australian Defence Force.

Born in Adelaide, Margot joined the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in August 1982. On graduation from the RAN Naval College and completion of Supply Officer training, she undertook a number of Supply Officer roles ashore and at sea before transferring to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in late 1988.

Margot took a three year leave of absence from the RAAF in 1992 and worked as Senior Administrator with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the Australian Embassy, Washington DC. In May 1995 she returned to the RAAF to work in Air Force Materiel Division.

Over the next ten years Margot specialised in organisational reform and design, and workforce transition, supporting a number of workforce reform projects including the Chief of Air Force’s Rebalance and Reshape Program. January 2007 saw Margot’s focus shift to combat support when she was appointed as the Base Commander RAAF Base Williams and Commanding Officer Combat Support Unit Williams, for which she was awarded a Conspicuous Service Medal in the 2009 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

In 2009, Margot joined Aerospace Operational Support Group as the Staff Officer Personnel, and later the Chief of Staff. Margot deployed to the Middle East Area of Operations in November 2010 as the Commanding Officer Combat Support Unit, Rotation 3. Her efforts on this deployment saw her awarded a Chief of Joint Operations Gold Commendation for ‘contribution to significant improvements to support for forces engaged in combat operations’. Other awards include commendations from the Chief of Air Force and Assistant Chief of Materiel – Air Force for her contribution to workforce reform and for project management.

In May 2012 Margot was promoted to Group Captain and appointed as Director, Pathway to Change. In this position she was responsible for coordination, reporting and oversight of Pathway to Change implementation within Air Force. Margot served in this role until January 2013 when she took up the position of Chief of Staff Air Force Personnel Branch. Margot is a graduate of the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies (2015), with a Masters of Arts in Strategic Studies. Margot was promoted to the rank of Air Commodore and appointed to the post of Commandant, Australian Command and Staff College in December 2015 before retiring from the Air Force in December 2016 to take up the position of CEO of the Defence Teaming Centre.

Ms Jo Hanrahan

Jo enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force as a signals operator. In 1980, after a short period of service, Jo discharged from the Air Force to get married and join her Air Force husband in South Australia.

Jo commenced her Australian Public Service career in 1982 working for the Department of Defence at the Defence Science and Technology Organisation at Salisbury. In 1988, Jo was appointed as the Family Liaison Officer at RAAF Base Edinburgh. Over the following years, Jo worked for Defence in a variety of administrative and human resource management roles. Mainly for the Air Force’s Aircraft Research and Development Unit and the Aerospace Operational Support Group.

In 2013 Jo was offered the opportunity to become the Ministerial Adviser on Defence Personnel matters for the then Assistant Minister for Defence, the Hon Stuart Robert MP. In a subsequent ministerial reshuffle, Jo then took on the adviser role for Veterans’ Affairs and the Centenary of Anzac.

Jo returned to the Department of Defence when Minister Robert resigned his ministry to return to the backbench. The following three years, Jo undertook a variety of project and administrative work at the Australian Defence College. At the end of April 2019, Jo retired from her Public Service career and relocated back to Adelaide.

Major Sally Heidenreich

Sally Heidenreich was commissioned as an officer of the Australian Regular Army on 19 January 2001. On her graduation from Duntroon, Sally joined the Australian Intelligence Corps.

During her full-time career Sally deployed to Iraq in 2005/6 as the Information Operations officer with the second Al-Muthanna Task Group, and to Iraq a second time in 2008 in an independent counterintelligence role, from where she was later redeployed to Afghanistan. In 2009/10 Sally deployed again to Afghanistan as the Officer-in-Charge of the Fusion and Targeting Cell with the ninth rotation of the Special Operations Task Group, in which role she was responsible for the dynamic prosecution of insurgent targets.

Sally transferred to the Army Reserves in 2011 and embarked on an undergraduate Law degree at the University of Adelaide. In 2013 Sally completed part of her degree at the Chuo University Graduate School of Law in Tokyo as the recipient of a Prime Minister’s Endeavour Award, studying the impact of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution – the “Renunciation of War” clause – on Australia-Japan bilateral security relations.

In 2014 Sally deployed on Operation Southern Indian Ocean as the Liaison Officer and interpreter for the Japanese P-3 contingent assisting with the maritime search for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370.

Sally is now a practising barrister.

Sally has completed the South Australian Governor’s Leadership Foundation program. Following her military career, this program gave Sally an excellent opportunity to deepen her understanding of a broad variety of social issues impacting our State.

In 2015 Sally completed the 56km Yurrebilla ultra-marathon to raise funds for Soldier On. With respect to veterans’ issues, an area of particular interest for Sally lies with the mental health of contemporary veterans and especially the obstacles and challenges faced by contemporary veterans leaving the military to resume civilian life.

Sally is married to Alex, a former Special Air Service Regiment officer turned cyber security entrepreneur. Her two step-children are Macy, 11, and Nicholas, 8. Sally enjoys reading, gardening, hiking, Japanese language and travel.

Mr Nathan Klinge

Nathan has been the Chief Executive Officer of RSL Care SA since 2015.

Having spent most of his 23 years of full-time service in the Australian Defence Force as a Commissioned General Service Officer within the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps and having discharged from the Regular Army in 2014 Nathan remains a member of the Army’s Active Reserves.

During his time in the Regular Army he performed a variety of training and operational roles, including deployments to East Timor with the 6 RAR Battalion Group and Iraq.

Nathan is a passionate advocate of veteran health issues and he serves on the Veteran Health Advisory Council and SA Health’s Southern Consumer Advisory Committee (as a veteran representative).

Nathan is President of the RSL’s Adelaide Sub Branch and is an active member within the Lutheran Church of Australia where he serves on several boards and committees.

Mr Frank Lampard OAM

Mr Lampard is an Aboriginal Elder of Ngarrindjeri and Kaurna descent.

In his work life, he was a school teacher for more than 30 years, before holding several senior roles in the Public Service, including that of the Acting Chief Executive of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. Later he took up roles in the NGO Sector such as the Executive Director of the Aboriginal Prisoners and Offenders Support Services Incorporated.

He has also served on several advisory government and NGO bodies and is currently Co-Chair of Aboriginal Veterans SA. He also once held the post of Deputy Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial Committee.

Mr Lampard has received numerous awards and recognition, including an Order of Australia Medal and the National NAIDOC Elder of the Year Award.

Whilst passionate about retaining Aboriginal languages and culture in schools and the tertiary sector, he has demonstrated a strong commitment to the wellbeing and prosperity of Aboriginal people in SA with a particular interest in the Aboriginal Veteran sector.

Mr Lampard was a national servicemen from 1967-69 and served in the Australian Army as a medic with 2 Field Ambulance at Albert Park and Victoria Barracks in Melbourne.

Mrs Jan Milham

Jan is the State President of the War Widows’ Guild of Australia.

Jan’s husband served in Korea and Jan was widowed at the age of 45. Jan lived in the country and has since moved to Adelaide.

Jan has three adult daughters, is a grandmother and great-grandmother.

Jan is a volunteer for Anglicare and is involved with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Jan enjoys the theatre, movies, music and travel.

Mr Malcolm Thiele JP

Mr Malcolm Thiele served for 22 years in the RAAF. During that time, he saw active service in South Vietnam.

During his time in the RAAF he served at many bases all around Australia and in Malaysia, beginning his service as an apprentice and ending his career as a Warrant Officer in the Health Services. During his service he developed a training course for new clerical staff, developed a syllabus and trained these staff. He was posted to the Directorate General of Air Force Health Services where he developed service wide policies to manage health administration throughout the RAAF.

Upon discharge in 1986 he joined the S.A. public service as a Health Information Manager and oversaw the closure and the merging of all paper and electronic records of Glenside Hospital and the records of the closing Hillcrest Hospital he was also involved with the formation of the South Australian Mental Health Service (SAMHS) and policy development for health information management and the further devolvement of Mental Health Service into the community and public hospitals. He was also an active member of the Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA) and coordinated sponsorships and organisation of annual national conferences for this Association, not only in Adelaide, but interstate. He retired from the Public service in 2009.

He is an active member of the Royal Association of Justices South Australia (RAJSA) and has been for some fifteen years.

He joined the Vietnam Veterans Federation in 2012 and served on the committee then assumed the role of Vice President and subsequently elected as President in 2014. He is also Vice President of the National Office of the Vietnam Veterans Federation of Australia.

Mr Chris Tilley

Mr Tilley served in the Royal Australian Army from 2004 until 2012 as a Private in the 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment and Australia’s Federation Guard where he was awarded the Soldier’s Medallion for exemplary service for significant contributions to his unit. He saw service on Operation Astute in East Timor in 2006, East Timor once again in 2007 and Operation Slipper in Afghanistan in 2008.

On discharge Mr Tilley was employed by the Department for Correctional Services SA as a Custodial Officer. He currently runs a program for the rehabilitation of Ex-military members serving prison sentences. This program provides links to support services, encourages pride of service and the readoption of the military identity and community.

Both Chris and his wife Jemma have spent most of their lives residing in South Australia with the exception of time spent in the Australian Defence Force. Jemma was the bookings officer and tour guide at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra whilst Chris was based there and she continues to do ANZAC and Remembrance Day presentations at local schools.

Mr Tilley is a member of the RSL and the 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment Association.

Ex-Officio Members

Air Commodore Ross Bender

Air Commodore Ross Bender studied as a Mechanical Engineer at the University of Queensland and joined the Royal Australian Air Force as an Aeronautical Engineering Undergraduate in 1989. Following graduation in 1990 Air Commodore Bender completed two postings as an Aeronautical Engineering Officer. Air Commodore Bender was selected, and subsequently graduated from, pilot training on No. 170 Pilot Course in 1996 and was posted to 36 Squadron to fly the C-130H Hercules and then the C-130E Hercules at 37 Squadron.

Following this Air Commodore Bender completed post graduate training as a Qualified Flying Instructor in 2001 and a Flight Commander tour at the Australian Defence Force Basic Flying Training School. He then completed test pilot training at the United States Navy Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, USA in 2003 and was posted to the Aircraft Research and Development Unit as a Qualified Test Pilot completing multiple flight test programs on the C-130 and PC/9A aircraft.

Air Commodore Bender returned to 37 Squadron in 2006 as executive officer of the newly combined C-130H and C-130J fleet and participated in a wide range of operational, humanitarian and exercise deployments. In 2009, Air Commodore Bender became Executive Officer 86 Wing responsible for supporting the Combat Air Mobility provided by C-17 Globemaster, C-130 Hercules, DHC-4 Caribou and B300 Kingair aircraft.

Air Commodore Bender then returned to Aircraft Research and Development Unit in 2010 as Commanding Officer responsible for execution of flight test activities for Air Force and Army aircraft. In 2012, Air Commodore Bender became Officer Commanding Development and Test Wing and was also appointed as the Flight Test Approval Authority for Air Force and Army aircraft. The responsibilities also extended to oversight of Defence Aviation Medicine, Aeronautical Information and aircraft stores compatibility.

His staff appointments within Air Force Headquarters include Director Combat Capability and Director Strategic Design. In 2017, Air Commodore Bender deployed to the Middle East as Commander of the Air Task Group providing the Australian air power contribution to US led coalition under Operation INHERENT RESOLVE.

Air Commodore Bender was promoted to his current rank in January 2019 and commenced duties as Director General Capability Integration, Test and Evaluation. He returned to RAAF Edinburgh as Commander Air Warfare Centre in January 2021.

Air Commodore Bender holds a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Honours), Master of Business Administration (Technology Management) and a Master of Strategic Studies obtained on posting to US Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama in 2008-09.

Air Commodore Bender and his wife Kelly have two daughters, Emily and Sarah, and he enjoys most sports and keeping fit through running, cycling and rowing.

Commander Emma McDonald-Kerr 

Commander Emma McDonald-Kerr was born in Gisborne, Victoria, and joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1999, as a Midshipman at the Australian Defence Force Academy. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in 2001, majoring in Oceanography and Politics.

Upon graduation she commenced Maritime Warfare Officer professional training, and in 2004 was awarded her Bridge Warfare Certificate in HMAS Success. Following a period as an Officer of the Watch in Success, she was posted as the decommissioning Navigator in HMAS Launceston (II). After decommissioning, she joined a cross-functional team in the Defence Community Organisation Darwin, supporting ADF members and their families, often in times of crisis.

In 2009, she posted to the Defence Force Recruiting Centre in Melbourne, before commencing a land-based deployment to Timor-Leste in 2012. After returning from operations she managed the Navy’s overseas recruitment program, and subsequently accepted dual specialisation as a Maritime Warfare and Management Executive Officer (human resource management).

In 2013, she deployed as the Military Assistant to the Commander of Combined Task Force 150, responsible for maritime security and counter terrorism operations in the Middle East and Indian Ocean region. Back in Australia she undertook a workforce planning role, before returning to sea as the Executive/Boarding Officer in Cape Class Patrol Boats Cape Byron and Cape Inscription.

Her selection as the Staff Officer to the Chief of the Defence Force in late 2017, provided a unique opportunity to work for the ADF’s most senior military officer. After this role she studied at the Australian War College, before her appointment as the Deputy Director Navy Workforce Requirements Planning. In December 2021, Commander McDonald-Kerr will assume command of Navy Headquarters – South Australia.

Commander McDonald-Kerr’s career highlights include navigating a ship through the busy Singapore Strait, and working alongside colleagues from allied and partner militaries. She has a Master of Business from the University of New South Wales and a Master of Military and Defence Studies from the Australian National University. In her spare time she enjoys planning her next travel adventure, spending time with family, friends and her greyhound, Charlie, and exploring the great outdoors.

LTCOL Roland Spackman

Lieutenant Colonel Roland Spackman, RAINF is a graduate of the Australian Defence Force Academy, the Royal Military College, Duntroon, and the Australian Command and Staff College (Joint). On commissioning from the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 2004, LTCOL Spackman was allocated the Royal Australian Infantry Corps and posted to the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (Parachute). LTCOL Spackman is a broadly experienced infantry officer, having served in Parachute, Standard, and now Mechanized Infantry Battalions as well as filling staff and training appointments within the Australian, British, and United States Armies.

LTCOL Spackman served as a rifle platoon commander with the Ready Battle Group on Operation ANODE in the Solomon Islands in 2006 and served on Operation SLIPPER in Afghanistan in 2009 with the Election Task Force. In 2014 he was the Officer Commanding Rifle Company Butterworth Rotation 105 in Malaysia, and in 2017 was the Chief of Staff for Joint Task Force 661 during Operation QUEENSLAND ASSIST in the wake of Cyclone Debbie. Most recently he was seconded to Home Affairs to assist their planners develop the Department’s response to COVID 19.

LTCOL Spackman’s academic achievements include a Bachelor of Arts (major in English with minors in English and Indonesian) from University Campus of UNSW at ADFA and a Masters Degree with Distinction in Defence and Strategic Studies from the Australian National University.

LTCOL Spackman and his partner enjoy spending their time travelling, listening to music, skiing, eating well and generally enjoying the great outdoors.