2023 Council Members

The 2023 Veterans’ Advisory Council membership was announced by the Minister on 2 December 2022.

Robert Manton – Chair

Rob Manton served in the Australian Army for 30 years retiring at the rank of Colonel in 2011. His military career was predominantly in command and leadership appointments culminating in a formation level appointment as Commandant, Combat Arms Training Centre.

His operational service included peacekeeping operations with the United Nations and on Operation Catalyst as the Deputy Chief of Staff, Multi-National Forces Iraq.

His final appointment in the military was as the Military Advisor to the Australian Ambassador to the United Nations in New York.

Following his transition from the Army Colonel Manton was appointed Director, Veterans SA, the South Australian Government’s veterans’ affairs agency from 2014 -2019.

In February 2020 he was appointed as the South Australian Government’s Recovery Coordinator for the Kangaroo Island bushfires.

Colonel Manton is a graduate of the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies and has a Master of Arts from Deakin University. He is a Board member of Trojans Trek, an organisation that plans, conducts and evaluates wilderness-based peer support interventions to assist service, ex-service, and first responders, adversely affected by their service. He is also the Virtual War Memorial Australia’s Ambassador for Government Relations.

Miranda van Hooff – Deputy Chair

Associate Professor Miranda Van Hooff is an experienced research scientist who has devoted the last 15 years to better understanding and supporting the mental health and wellbeing of current and former serving Australian military personnel and their families.

Miranda is one of Australia’s leading researchers in the field of ADF transition and wellbeing. She has led two studies which ascertained the prevalence of ICD-10 Mental Disorder in current and ex-serving ADF members which have subsequently been strong drivers of change in relation to policy and service provision. She has also published extensively in this field.

Miranda has held a number of research roles and advisory appointments at the University of Adelaide during her career and is currently the Executive Director of Military and Emergency Services Health Australia (MESHA), a charity of The Hospital Research Foundation Group. MESHA undertakes research and provides programs and training that support the mental health and wellbeing of current and ex-serving military and emergency service Save personnel and their families.

Miranda is also the partner of a current ADF Reservist with a 30-year career in the UK and Australian Navy. She has vast experience in veteran health care and social services.

Hayley Boswell

Hayley Boswell is a military spouse, practising lawyer and a mother of two defence children.

In 2019 she founded Defence Kidz and through this organisation advocates on behalf of defence / veteran children, young people, defence spouses and families. She has created and published children’s books and cartoon animations to enable ADF children to feel connected with their parent while they are on deployment and to educate the community about defence life and the effect on defence children. Hayley actively participates in regular meetings with State and Federal Government Ministers and non-government organisations and makes significant contributions on behalf of defence and veteran families. Hayley understands the importance of collaborating with other Defence and Veteran organisations, and is working with many organisations to implement various initiatives in 2023.

Hayley is the firm owner and principal solicitor at Lynch & Co Lawyers, and has also worked in a number of community related positions with an advocacy focus, particularly in relation to homelessness, domestic violence and victim / human rights.

In 2022 Hayley was a Finalist in the Prime Minister’s Veterans Employment Awards (Entrepreneur Category), The Princes Trust – Beyond Service Awards (Defence spouse business category), Women in Defence Awards (People and Culture Category) and Department of Human Services Volunteering in SA Awards. Hayley has also recently been nominated for the Australia Day Awards (Civilian of the Year category).

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.

Taylor Cowell

Taylor Cowell served in the Australian Army within the Royal Australian Regiment and deployed to Afghanistan on ATF-1 in 2012. After discharging, Taylor spent several years working in diplomatic security operations at the Australian Embassy in Kabul.

With a commitment to advancing his education and leveraging the skills and experiences gained during his military service, Taylor pursued higher education, earning a Bachelor of Project Management from the University of Adelaide. His understanding of the challenges faced by veterans during the transition to civilian life led him to found the Adelaide University Student Veterans’ Association in 2021 with the mission of bringing veterans and their families together to empower them to thrive at university and beyond.

Taylor’s diverse professional background encompasses government, consulting, diplomatic operations, and health and defence industries. Taylor is an Associate Project Manager at Saab Australia and is deeply committed to advocating for and supporting the needs of serving and ex-serving defence personnel.

Bill Denny

Bill Denny graduated from the Officer Cadet School, Portsea and served in a variety of postings in the Australian Army over 21 years including South Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, on exchange with the British Army in Germany and as Aide de Camp to the Governor-General. He resigned from the army in 1990 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Following his service Bill was employed in a number of management positions in the manufacturing, real estate, retirement villages and transport sectors and completed a Bachelor of Laws at Flinders University. In 2006 he joined the State Government as an advisor to the Attorney-General and in 2009 was appointed as the inaugural Director of Veterans SA and was subsequently involved in the establishment of the Veterans’ Advisory Council.

Bill has held a number of board positions within the South Australian community including Deputy State President of the RSL, Chair of the State Government’s Anzac Day Commemoration Council, the RSL Anzac Day March Committee, the Vietnam Veterans’ Association, the Vietnam Veterans’ Federation, the Veterans’ Health Advisory Council, Reconciliation SA and the Consortium of Ex-Service Organisations. In 2006 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia and was awarded the Bravery Medal in 2014.

Bill initiated the Vietnam War Memorial and was involved in the completion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial on Torrens Parade Ground.

Alex Houthuysen (Hill)

Alex Houthuysen (Hill) is a proud Aboriginal man from the Yamatji Nation of the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Alex served with the Royal Australian Air Force for many years and then continued his service within the airline industry and with several non-government organisations. He is currently working at St Johns Youth Service in a senior management role, supporting First Nations clientele within the social services sector.

Alex is the Deputy Chair of the Port Adelaide Enfield Council Aboriginal Advisory Panel, a Board member of Turkindi Information Network of SA Inc and a board member of Aboriginal Veterans SA.

In 2021 he joined the Board of the Aged Rights Advocacy Service and is a member of the ARAS Reconciliation Action Plan Committee.

He has a continuing interest in promoting the importance of recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women, of shared service and the sacrifice of all Australians.

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.

Kay Matthias

Kay Matthias is a qualified journalist who also holds a Diploma of Community Services and a Graduate Diploma of Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Kay is currently a member of the Energy and Water Industry Ombudsman Board; the Energy Regulator’s Consumer Council and Bowls SA.  Her previous directorships have included the Premier’s Council for Women, the SA Council on the Aging Policy Council and the Northern and Yorke Peninsula Regional Development Board.

Kay has received a number of awards and nominations including the 2015 Rural Media SA President’s Award for services to rural and regional SA.

Kay has considerable experience in working with and developing policies for those affected by domestic violence and was a volunteer and inaugural treasurer of the South-East Women’s Emergency Shelter. In her role as Chief Executive Officer of Rural Business Support her work involved supporting farmers affected by mental illness as a result of drought, floods, fire and animal health diseases.

Kay has a personal connection to Vietnam through her brother’s service which included two tours of Vietnam with the Royal Australian Air Force. Her brother was subsequently involved in establishing an orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City to assist war orphans.

Kerryn Smith

Kerryn Smith is a veteran who served for eight years in the Royal Australian Air Force in a range of education and training roles.

She has been involved in the local Defence Industry at Executive level for over 20 years, including as the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Industry and Defence Network-NT and is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Legacy SA & Broken Hill, managing the delivery of support and welfare services to the families of veterans who have given their life or health in the line of service.

Through her experience on Defence Industry, Business and Charity Boards and a range of Federal, State, Technology and Education Executive Committees, Kerryn has represented the concerns of veterans on issues such as welfare and pensions support, youth education and development, small business and supply chain growth.

Kerryn has personal experience of family trauma and grief and is a strong advocate for ensuring veterans and their families are well supported.

Malcolm Thiele JP

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 and is a member of the Consortium of Ex-Service Organisations in South Australia.

Chris Tilley

Chris 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 ADF separation Chris was employed by the Department for Correctional Services (DCS) SA as a Custodial Officer where he has established Veteran-centric strategy and a Veteran Services Pilot Program as the DCS Senior Advisor for Veteran Services. This initiative provides rehabilitation opportunities for Ex-military justice involved veterans and their families, supports veteran staff, provides links to support services, and encourages readoption of the service identity, values 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.

Chris is a member of the RSL, a Director for the Royal Australian Regiment Corporation, a member of the Younger Veterans – Contemporary Needs Forum and represents South Australia on the National Veteran Incarceration Policy Working Group.

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 Tim Orders

Colonel Tim Orders is an Australian Army officer that enlisted from Adelaide in 2000. An Armoured Corps officer by background, Colonel Orders’ has completed a number of command and staff appointments across Defence and on Operations. In 2023 Colonel Orders will take up the appointment of Deputy Commander of the 9th Brigade at Keswick Barracks.

From 2020 to 2022, Colonel Orders had the privilege of commanding 1st Armoured Regiment at the Edinburgh Defence Precinct in Adelaide. During his command, Colonel Orders lead the Emergency Support Force in response to the 2019/20 bushfires on Kangaroo Island as well as the COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria.

Colonel Orders has deployed on Operations to Iraq in 2006 as an embed with the British Multi National Division Headquarters; to Afghanistan in 2014/15 as Chief of Staff of the Australian National Headquarters and as Military Assistant to the US Deputy Chief of Staff Operations and to Egypt in 2019, as the Executive Officer to the Force Commander, Multinational Force and Observers, Sinai.

Colonel Orders is a graduate of Australia’s Capability and Technology Management College, the UK Joint Services Command and Staff College and the Australian War College. He holds a Master of Management from University of New South Wales, a Master of Arts from Kings College London and a Master of International Relations from Deakin University.

Colonel Orders’ wife, Hannah, will complete her nursing studies at the University of South Australia in 2023 and looks forward to working in the South Australian health system as a registered nurse. Together they have two young daughters; Abigail aged five, who will commence school in 2023, and Harriet who will turn two early in 2023.