Defence and Veteran Legal Services Newsletter—Issue 20 June 2024

The importance of shining a light

The Royal Commission has released a profoundly important book and I hope it will be widely read. It’s one that means a lot to our service and the people we support.

Shining a Light: Stories of Trauma & Tragedy, Hope & Healing is a book that will help people to better understand the magnitude of the issues facing veterans and their families.

Written by military writer Patrick Lindsay AM, this book “shines a light on the deeply personal experiences of serving and ex-serving ADF members, and their loved ones, who have been touched by military suicide and suicidal behaviour”.

The book outlines the experiences of many individuals who shared their personal stories with the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide. It is available as an e-book and can be read or downloaded by visiting the Royal Commission website.

This book is an important milestone for the Royal Commission and for those who have engaged with the inquiry. We fervently hope this new volume - and the Royal Commission’s forthcoming reports - will result in real, lasting and positive changes for past, present and future ADF members.

Jasmine Stanton

Director of the Defence and Veterans Legal Service

Lived experience book draws heavily on submissions

The lived experience book mentioned above does not include names or identifying details about people who made submissions to the Royal Commission. But it does include vital excerpts and information from those submissions.

The Royal Commission received submissions from almost 6,000 people and we helped about 1,500 of those individuals to engage with the inquiry.

Call us on 1800 33 1800 if you have questions about the Royal Commission, its reports and its processes. We also provide free and independent advice about issues relating to confidentiality.

The contents of the lived experience report will often be confronting. If you require counselling support or other assistance, visit our Support Services page.

DVA claims: beware of fee-charging businesses

Are you thinking of lodging a claim with DVA? There are many advocates who can advise and assist you for free.

If you want an advocate to help you lodge a claim with DVA for service-related illness or injury, we recommend using a free advocate.

You can search here for a free advocate near you. Or, our entitlements team can give you basic advice and refer you to an advocate near you.

Free advocates in ex-service organisations do accredited training and can help with claims, appeals and the complexity of DVA rules and processes.

Some fee-for-service businesses charge large and unreasonable fees. They may also charge you a large fee to terminate your contract with them. It is really important you get a copy of any contract with a fee-for-service business before you sign up with them. Make sure you understand all the charges, as well as the qualifications of the person assisting you with a claim.

Your claim will not be given a higher priority by DVA if you use a business that charges fees.

If you have concerns about the fee-for-service business you have used, you can book an appointment with one of our lawyers for free advice.

Double-dipping rules: we can help you understand offsetting

There are currently three Acts that relate to DVA claims. Your service-related injury or illness may be eligible for compensation under one or more of them.

If you are covered by more than one Act, there are ‘double-dipping’ rules to stop you being compensated twice for the same illness or injury. These rules mean DVA payments can be offset (that is, reduced).

Offsetting can be complex. And it is important you consider how offsetting may apply to you before you lodge claims and/or accept compensation from DVA.

For free advice and more information about this issue, we suggest you speak to one of our entitlements staff. Call us on 1800 33 1800

Honouring veterans, supporting veterans

Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders have been part of Australia's armed forces since the Boer War.

We were honoured to lay a wreath recently at a national service commemorating the contribution of First Nations Defence Force members.

Our staff attend ADF transition events across Australia - including this one in Canberra - to provide free legal support to current and former ADF members.

We recently attended the Brisbane Homeless Connect event that highlighted free services for people - including veterans - who are homeless or at risk of it.

If you would like us to deliver a free presentation or attend an event in your community, call us on 1800 33 1800 or send us an email.

Dates for your diary

A key date to be aware of

9 September 2024 - final Royal Commission report due


Many of our resources are available for download from our website. Where possible, we can also send printed copies and promotional materials to stakeholders.

o order our free resources, call us on 1800 33 1800 or send an email.

Free presentations about free legal support

Across Australia we work with organisations that support veterans and ADF members. This often includes delivering free presentations to their members and attending community events.

If you would like us to deliver a presentation or attend an event in your community, either in person or online, call 1800 33 1800 or email us.

At your event, we can answer your questions in a friendly and relaxed environment. Depending on your event, we can also include opportunities for confidential, one-on-one discussions.

Crisis support

For immediate help in a crisis, please contact one of the following services:

Suicide Call Back Service (a 24-hour counselling service for suicide prevention and mental health) 1300 659 467

Lifeline Australia (a 24-hour crisis support line) 13 11 14

Beyond Blue (free, immediate short-term counselling) 1300 224 636

Open Arms (a free and confidential 24/7 national counselling service for Australian veterans and their families) 1800 011 046

Defence All-hours Support Line 1800 628 036

Triple Zero 000