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Senator Wright on Veterans Affairs

On behalf of the Australian Greens, I would like to speak to the reports that have been tabled by the Minister for Veterans Affairs and reiterate the importance of having good research into the effects of service on Australia's military personnel, including peacekeepers, and also into the effects of that service on their families and dependents. My experience in meeting both veterans and their partners and children has confirmed for me what the research has indicated and what was referred to by Senator Ronaldson-that is, that there is substantial evidence to suggest that for those who serve on our behalf war has not only many physical costs but also costs from the dislocation of their lives and the necessity for them to reintegrate into the civilian workforce when they demobilise from their service. There are also the ongoing effects, sometimes psychological and in relation to stress. Those costs transfer to those who support them. The role of partners and families is absolutely crucial. It is incumbent upon us as a community that, when we ask people to serve on our behalf and put themselves in the frontline, at risk of physical and psychological injury, we support those who support them.


I will look forward to reading the reports that have been tabled today. We need to see important, reliable research translated into sensible and reliable policy that acknowledges the contribution that our veterans and their families make on our behalf. That is the big, really important question.

I think that Australian society needs to be particularly grateful for not only the families, partners and children of veterans but also some of the organisations that work tirelessly to try to highlight the importance of having good research and good policy, including the Partners of Veterans Association of Australia and also their state counterparts and many small and large organisations that work for the welfare of partners and veterans throughout Australia. A matter that I have raised with the minister is that some of the partners associations, or many of them, do not actually have any real funding to keep them going, and I think it is important that we ensure that they can carry out that important advocacy and caring role, particularly in terms of reaching out to partners and families in rural and more isolated areas of Australia who often do not have the support networks that people in urban areas have. It can be very expensive to try to get out there to meet them. I know from the partners that I have spoken to how absolutely valuable that contact can be in keeping people going in their important work, in holding families together and in supporting their veterans.

I look forward, on behalf of the Australian Greens, to having a closer look at those reports.

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