A message from our Director
We support a wide cross-section of people, but in this newsletter I want to highlight our assistance for a particular group that has faced particular challenges.
While women make up just 20% of the Defence Force, they represent 42% of our registered clients across Australia.
In addition, more than 30% of calls to our national Info Line come from women. That Info Line (free call 1800 33 1800) recently received its 2,000th enquiry.
Nearly all our female clients report they have experienced sexual harassment, or sexual abuse or sexual assault in the Defence Force. Some of those experiences involved rape.
This terrible issue is not limited to females. A significant number of men in the ADF have also been victims of sexual harassment, sexual abuse and sexual assault – including rape.
Many people feel unable to speak up about the treatment they endured in the ADF. That’s why we are urging them to contact us because we can help them share their story with the Royal Commission in a safe, informed and supported manner.
As a former member of the ADF, I know it can be hard to speak up. However, submissions to this inquiry can help to right past wrongs and improve the treatment of those who serve today and in the future.
We support male and female veterans and serving ADF members, plus their families, to make submissions to the Royal Commission. That assistance is free, confidential, independent, and provided across Australia.
If you want to share your story with that inquiry, we can support you to do that. Call us on 1800 33 1800.
Outside the wire - outreach across the nation
Across Australia, we continue to support our clients and help them to share their stories with the Royal Commission.
We travel widely to inform people about that free assistance. The round-up below provides some highlights of our outreach work across the country.
At the Australian War Memorial, we attended a NAIDOC Week Last Post Ceremony.
It honoured Indigenous serviceman Private Edward Mussing who served in World War Two.
Our Canberra staff have also been attending ADF transition events, and providing outreach assistance, in NSW. They have delivered that assistance at the Nowra Veteran Wellbeing Centre and in other parts of the Shoalhaven region.
Our Melbourne team members have been on the move, providing information and assistance to people across Victoria.
As you can see, they said g’day to the Legacy bear mascot when they attended a Family Fun Day for veterans in Geelong.
They have also spoken to regional radio stations and newspapers, and delivered presentations to organisations that help people dealing with alcohol abuse.
From a prison to a Men’s Shed, our Perth team members have been spreading the message to WA veterans.
Our lawyer Mitch spoke to a support group for veterans incarcerated at the Acacia Prison in the Perth hills.
Mitch also spent four days in Albany, providing outreach assistance to veterans in the Great Southern region of WA. He spoke with veterans at RSL sub-branches, and also visited the Albany Men’s Shed and the National ANZAC Centre.
Our SA team members continue to liaise with a number of veteran support services including RSL Care and the Jamie Larcombe Centre in Adelaide.
That $15m centre (shown in these pictures from Veterans SA) provides mental health assistance to veterans, including specialist PTSD services.
Our lawyers across Australia all receive specialist training to assist our many clients who deal with PTSD.
New South Wales
We continue to travel around NSW providing assistance to current and former ADF members and their families.
In Newcastle, for example, we attended an ADF transition event for Defence Force members and their families.
At this event we spoke with more than 75 people about the free support we provide.
We are pleased to welcome our new lawyer, Rose Diamond, to the DAVLS Tasmanian team.
Like some of our clients, Rose is also a keen motorcyclist!
Rose is based in Launceston and looks forward to assisting our clients in the North and Northwest regions.
She has extensive experience working as a Welfare Rights advocate at a Community Legal Centre, and also has a psychology degree.
In Darwin we attended the official opening of the Mates 4 Mates Veteran & Family Wellbeing Centre at Stuart Park.
The centre supports veterans and their families. It offers a community room, a veterans’ lounge, medical and legal consultation rooms, a gym, outdoor area, and conference facilities.
The centre also has a social worker and an exercise physiologist who can assist veterans at the gym.
Stories from the Frontline
Our podcast series, Stories from the Frontline, showcases first-person stories from veterans that have a connection to our service.
The episodes are powerful and short - usually about five minutes long.
Listen to them here.
Call us on 1800 33 1800 for free support
We provide information, referrals and help with Royal Commission submissions through our free Info Line. Its number is 1800 33 1800.
The Info Line is staffed by a specialist team that is highly experienced in assisting current and former members of the Defence Forces, as well as their family members.
On your initial call to this number, we can:
- provide introductory information about engaging with the Royal Commission
- direct you to our free resources
- arrange to email or post information to you
- book you a free appointment with one of our lawyers, anywhere in Australia (these appointments are confidential and there’s no obligation on you to act as result of that appointment).
When you call the Info Line, you can remain anonymous if you wish.
The help provided by the Info Line, and by all our staff, is free, confidential and completely independent of the Royal Commission, DVA , the ADF, the Defence Department and all other agencies.
If you don’t feel like talking, you can also find online information at
If you call 1800 33 1800 out of hours, please leave a message so we can call you back.
DAVLS in your community
Our lawyers work with local ex-service and veteran support organisations across the country, delivering community presentations and attending community events.
Book a presentation
If you would like DAVLS to deliver a presentation or attend an event in your community, either in person or virtually, contact Karen Mills at DAVLS@legalaid.nsw.gov.au.
At your event, we can answer your questions in a friendly and relaxed environment. This includes questions about engaging with the Royal Commission, what is involved, and how it can benefit you and others.
Depending on your event, we can also include opportunities for confidential, one-on-one discussions.
Royal Commission hearings
You can also find us at Royal Commission hearings.
We attend all the hearings and we have an information stall at the hearing venues. These stalls help us to connect with members of the Defence and veteran community.
This webinar includes information from our staff about the support we provide and some of the options that are available to our clients.
Helping groups that can face additional barriers
We work closely with support organisations across Australia to spread the word about the specialist services we provide. Through this work, we have identified some groups (see below) that may face additional barriers when it comes to engaging with this Royal Commission.
We travel widely to inform Defence Force members and their families about the support we provide to those who are currently serving.
We attend many events and locations involving Defence families. This includes family fun days and sessions at wellbeing centres that support ADF families. At these locations and others, we highlight the important role that family members can play in shaping the Royal Commission’s recommendations.
Sex and gender diverse communities
We have engaged the help of various organisations that represent LGBTQIA+ personnel and veterans, and we provide support to help them tell their stories to the Royal Commission.
First Nations people
Through close consultation with First Nations communities, we have developed a range of resources including posters and brochures for First Nations people. We also liaise with key stakeholders and attend events focussing on Indigenous veterans and ADF members.
Veterans in prisons
We strive to ensure people in prison can access our services wherever they are in Australia. We have created resources for use in prisons. We also provide outreach services in some correctional facilities and deliver our support to inmates via phone or video.
First Nations resources
The Royal Commission has produced resources to support and encourage First Nations people to share their stories with the inquiry.
These resources can be found here.
Future hearings and dates for your diary
The Royal Commission has held public hearings in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Townsville, Hobart, Darwin, Wagga Wagga and Adelaide.
Key dates to be aware of:
28 August 2023 - public hearings commence in Melbourne
13 October 2023 – Royal Commission submissions close
17 June 2024 - final Royal Commission report due
Many of our resources are available for download from our website. We are also happy to send out printed copies to our stakeholders.
Where possible, we can also send them our promotional materials that help to spread the word about our free services.
To order our free resources (including posters, brochures, wallet cards and factsheets etc) please contact us at DAVLS@legalaid.nsw.gov.au.
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