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Premier’s Message – December 2019

Welcome to the December of edition of Veterans ENews,

As this is the final edition for 2019 I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to members of the Veterans’ Advisory Council (VAC) who have worked hard throughout the year to advocate on behalf of all veterans across a range of issues.

Principal among them has been the VAC’s response to the Productivity Commission Inquiry Report into the rehabilitation and compensation for veterans. This milestone report has proposed a number of recommendations that are currently being considered by the Federal Government. The VAC provided advice on these recommendations and I have forwarded these views to the Federal Minister for Veterans’ Affairs for his consideration.

 To those members of the VAC who are departing I extend my sincere thanks for your contribution during your term on the Council. I would particularly like to highlight the many years of service of the outgoing Chair, Brigadier Laurie Lewis AM. Brigadier Lewis has served on the VAC since its inception in 2009, serving as the Chair for more than two years. I know that his tireless work on behalf of veterans, their families and carers is greatly appreciated by all in the veteran community and his advice to me has always been considered and presented in a way that confirmed his passion for his fellow veterans.

I would also like to highlight the contribution of Mr Leon Eddy, the President of the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Association and VAC member since 2012.  Leon has been a tireless advocate for his community and, has significantly contributed to the advice provided to government on behalf of all veterans. On behalf of the veteran community I thank Leon for his years of dedicated service.

At this time of year it is worth reflecting on Christmas 100 years ago. It is, after all, through the efforts of those who have fought our nation’s wars that has enabled us to celebrate Christmas as we do each year.

Everything was a little different at Christmas time 100 years ago. We didn’t have television or the internet. The average life expectancy was below 65.

For Australians serving overseas in WWI, celebrations such as Christmas were particularly difficult, a reminder that the war had laid waste to their routines and taken them away from their families.

Maintaining the traditions of Christmas could be logistically difficult. It was often simply a slightly larger amount of food than the normal rations, with additional treats, such as the half pound of Christmas pudding that Major-General John Monash procured for every man in his Third Division in 1917. Alcohol was a welcome addition.

Christmas dinner in 1919 saw some Australians who had served in Europe returning home on the SS Königin Luise, a German ship allocated to Britain as part of war reparations. A menu saved by Sergeant Tom Robinson Lydster bears no references to the war. 

A wreath of holly frames the menu that includes “Fillet of Sole au Vin Blanc, Asperges au Beurre Fondu” as well as “Lamb cutlets, Tomato sauce, Roast Sirlion of Beef”. The Christmas element is provided by “Plum Pudding, Brandy Sauce, Mince Pies”. More than a year after the end of the war, some surviving Australians were yet to celebrate Christmas on home soil.

Christmas traditions for Australian soldiers, nurses and medics helped maintain cultural normalcy during overseas service. Yet Christmas on active service could be a time of significant stress, a reminder of loved ones far away and of fallen friends. Unfortunately, for those who returned to Australia, forever changed by their experiences, Christmas was not always what they remembered or had imagined.

On behalf of all South Australians I extend my sincere appreciation to all in our veteran community for your sacrifice and service.

I wish you all a safe and happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.


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