Friday, 14th February 2020

A Veterans’ Advisory Council (VAC) meeting was held on Thursday 13 February 2020.

The meeting was chaired by Major Sally Heidenreich who introduced the new members of the VAC.


Commander Alastair Cooper

Commander Alastair Cooper joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1988. A Maritime Warfare Officer, he served at sea in HMA Ships Canberra (II), Melbourne (IV) and Fremantle (II), and ashore, including three years as the research officer to the Chief of Navy, in Navy Headquarters in Capability Division and the Sea Power Centre – Australia, and was the co-founder of the Navy’s Oral History Program. He has also worked in private sector telecommunications and as a public servant in the Department of Defence, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Attorney‑General’s Department.

Alastair Cooper graduated from the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra with a first class honours degree in history and is the author of several chapters, articles and online posts on Australian naval history and military strategy, including ‘At the Crossroads: Anglo-Australian Naval Relations, 1945-1971’ in the Journal of Military History, two chapters in The Australian Centenary History of Defence: Volume 3: The Royal Australian Navy and ‘The development of an independent Navy for Australia: correspondence between the First Naval Member and the First Sea Lord, 1947-1959’ in The Naval Miscellany, Vol. VII, and co‑author of Upgrade or replace: a cost comparison of Australian warship service lives.

Commander Cooper assumed command of Navy Headquarters – South Australia in December 2019 and is looking forward to the role, not least as the son of parents from Adelaide and Koolunga.


Lieutenant Colonel Adam Gower

Lieutenant Colonel Gower grew up in regional South Australia and was commissioned in 2002 following the completion of training at both the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Royal Military College-Duntroon. His regimental postings include service in the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) as a Platoon Commander, 2nd Battalion RAR as a Company Commander and Operations Officer, and his current appointment as Commanding Officer 7th Battalion, RAR.

Lieutenant Colonel Gower has completed staff appointments at Headquarters 3rd Brigade in operations and planning roles and Army Headquarters in the Soldier Combat Systems Program. His Training appointments include the Land Warfare Centre – Victoria and the Royal Military College – Duntroon.

A graduate of the Australian Command and Staff College,  Lieutenant Colonel Gower holds a Bachelor of Arts (Politics and Information Systems), a Master of Business (Information Technology), and a Master of Military and Defence Studies.

Lieutenant Colonel Gower has deployed to East Timor on OPERATION CITADEL, to Iraq on OPERATION CATALYST, to Afghanistan on OPERATION SLIPPER, and assisted in planning Queensland’s recovery from Tropical Cyclone Debbie on OPERATION QUEENSLAND RECOVERY.

Lieutenant Colonel Gower is a keen marathon runner, a passionate Australian Rules football player and Adelaide Crows supporter. His other interests include playing sport with his children and landscaping.


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.


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.


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.


The Prince’s Trust Australia

The VAC received a briefing from Ms Jasmine Cooper Sutton, Director, Defence Members & Their Families, Prince’s Trust Australia.  The Prince’s Trust assists veterans and their families with the confidence, enterprise skills and networks they need to thrive in the rapidly changing world of work and explore self-employment.

The program is underpinned by ten internationally recognised enterprise capabilities and is informed by emerging workforce trends and guided by an Advisory Council, Chaired by The Governor-General, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd).

If you are a veteran or Australian Defence Force member or family member you can register for the free program via

The program is open to:

  • Transitioning defence members
  • Ex-serving members at any stage
  • ADF family members (partners) of current or former serving members

The program is designed to support participants:

  • Exploring self-employment or working for themselves
  • Interested in Intrapreneurship
  • Working in an existing small business
  • Seeking professional development
  • Exploring new career opportunities
  • Building confidence for the future of work

Participants do not need a business idea to attend the program.

Self-employment includes freelancers, entrepreneurs, home or hobby businesses, contractors, consultants, and franchisees.

A Prince’s Trust Boot Camp will be held in Adelaide from Tuesday 5 May to Friday 8 May.  To register please visit

The Prince’s Trust also provides a virtual mentoring platform and is seeking business mentors to support the veteran community.


Working Age Veterans’ Forum – Friday 13 March 2020

Veterans SA is presenting a Working Age Veterans’ Forum on 13 March 2020.  The following items will form the agenda for the forum:

  • Veterans SA introduction and overview
  • Partnerships Hub introduction and overview
  • Transition
  • Employment (incorporating Higher Learning)
  • Mental Health and Welfare

To ensure that those in attendance receive well-informed information, questions for each topic will be discussed by a panel of specialists in each field. Attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions on the day.

Following feedback received in the expression of interest, Veterans SA is pleased to be holding forums at two convenient times:

  • Afternoon Forum – 2.00pm – 5.00pm
  • Evening Forum – 6.00pm – 9.00pm

This event is open for registration to all current and ex-serving ADF personnel, families and carers, ex-service organisations and anyone who has an interest in the veteran community. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 8226 8552 or

Other matters considered by the VAC included:

  • Ex-Service Organisation Fire Relief Response
  • Australian Community Housing Association, Homeless Veteran Initiative
  • South Australia’s Ex-Service Commemorative Calendar 2020
  • Torrens Hub Master Plan
  • Upcoming Commemorative Services
  • Productivity Commission Inquiry into compensation and rehabilitation for veterans
  • Veterans’ Advocacy and Support Services Scoping Study

The next VAC meeting will be held on Thursday 9 April 2020.  Please contact Paul Sykes at or via telephone: (08) 8226 8552 if you would like any further information.