Wednesday, 13th July 2022

The next meeting of the VAC is scheduled for 28 July 2022.

At its last (80th) meeting the key agenda item considered by the VAC was Veteran Homelessness. The VAC received presentations from Mr Nathan Klinge (VAC member and CEO of RSL Care/Andrew Russell Veteran Living Centre and Mr Chris Burns (VAC member and CEO Hutt St Centre) and considered the scope of veteran homelessness in South Australia, the services and supports available to veterans and the interfaces with the broader social services sector. The VAC resolved to form a Working Group to further explore these issues and formulate evidence-based recommendations to the Minister, and this will be important future work.

My tenure as Chair of the VAC concluded on 30 June 22. I take this opportunity to sincerely thank each member of the Council for their support and their considered inputs to progress issues of concern for the veteran community of South Australia. It has been a privilege to serve as Chair of Veterans Advisory Council SA over this time. Despite significant impacts of Covid on the activities of the VAC through 2020 and 2021, key highlights in the last three years include:

  • Establishment of a VAC Working Group and Response to the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran suicide, which provided a comprehensive report to government about the implications of the Royal Commission for South Australian veterans and veteran services in addition to a formal response to a ‘notice to give’ from the Royal Commission.
  • Establishment of the Torrens/TPG Steering Committee (chaired by Rear Admiral the Hon Kevin Scarce AC CSC RAN Rtd) which, after extensive consultation, provided a clear vision and recommendations for re-vitalisation of the Torrens/TPG precinct. The positive responses received from the Veterans’ community and the consistent themes through the consultation provided clear support for activities and events that demonstrate a ‘nexus’, through respect and linkage to veteran service, to the unique historical and commemorative values of the site.
  • Undertaking an independent review of the VAC Terms of Reference and membership during 2021 in order to orientate the VAC considerations towards a long term and strategic focus and to reflect the changing nature and needs of the South Australian veteran and veteran families’ community.
  • Greater alignment of VAC efforts into existing SA Government Councils/Agencies in areas of relevance to veterans, including input into the Department of Correctional Services Veteran Staff, Prisoner and Offenders – Strategy and Action Plan 2021-2015; and
  • Establishing connections between the VAC-SA and the national Veterans Families Advocate.

I would also like to thank and acknowledge the tireless work of the Veterans SA team headed by Ms Chantelle Bohan in supporting the activities of the VAC.

Mr John Godwin will step up as Acting Chair. I wish him and the continuing members every success as the VAC continues its important role of providing independent advice to the Minister Mr Geoff Brock, on matters affecting our veteran and veteran families community in South Australia.

Col (Rt’d) Susan Neuhaus AM CSC