A message from our Director
We have passed a major milestone but the journey is far from over.
Thousands of people have lodged a submission with the Royal Commission and we were privileged to assist about a quarter of those individuals.
The deadline for submissions has now passed, but there is still much to be done. The inquiry is considering almost 6,000 submissions and it continues to have Private Session meetings that allow individuals to speak about their experiences.
SUBMISSIONS END, LEGAL PROBLEMS DO NOT
The closure of submissions does not put an end to the legal problems that are sometimes faced by people who have served their country.
The Defence and Veterans Legal Service continues to provide free legal support across Australia to help people with a range of legal issues commonly experienced by current and former ADF members.
For example, we provide free legal advice, preliminary assistance and guided referrals regarding issues such as:
- family law problems (including parenting arrangements and the division of assets)
- veteran entitlements and compensation
- family violence and domestic violence orders
- employment law (including discrimination, harassment, unfair dismissal, and the transition into civilian industries)
- consumer law (including issues relating to insurance, consumer credit and debt)
- wills and estates
- redress for abuse in the Defence Force
- mental health rights
- traffic issues.
FREE ASSISTANCE ACROSS AUSTRALIA
We specialise in helping members of the Defence and veterans community, and all our services are free. If you have questions or want to chat about a legal issue, call us on 1800 33 1800.
And please remember: our assistance is independent, completely confidential, and you can remain anonymous if you wish to.
In the news and on the move
Our Hobart lawyer Andrea recently spoke to Seven News about the assistance we provide in that region and on the mainland.
Meanwhile, our North-West Tasmania solicitor Rose met with the president of RSL Launceston and senior advocates. They spoke about services that are, and will be, provided at Veteran Hubs in Launceston and Burnie.
Role call: Tanya – our Project Officer, Community Engagement
What brought you in to working with veterans?
Both my grandfathers served in World War Two and so did one of my grandmas (that’s her in the pictures above).
One grandfather was an ‘Angel’ helping Australian soldiers on the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea. My other grandfather, and my nan, both served in the army.
I wanted to work for DAVLS because it provides a unique opportunity to give back to our servicemen and servicewomen. I also have a strong personal interest in social justice, equality and mental health.
Tell us about your role.
My work focuses on areas including community and stakeholder engagement, governance, strategic planning and policy development, data requests and the preparation of reports. I also work closely with our Community Engagement Officer, and I attend outreach events where we highlight the services we provide.
What do you enjoy about your role?
I enjoy going through the policies, analysing data and monitoring our output and achievements. We’re a national team and I am lucky to work with great people around Australia. For example, when we have national and state video conference meetings, it’s great to hear what our solicitors have been doing in each state and territory.
What are your strategies for managing stress and burnout?
Burnout is real; we aren’t superheroes after all! When things are difficult, sometimes you just gotta laugh it off, debrief, or ask for help from colleagues and your support networks. I try to engage in open conversations with people and to listen to my body.
Client feedback: "Have a drink on me, you really deserve it!"
We have really appreciated the kind remarks of clients who sought our assistance when preparing their submissions to the Royal Commission. Here are just a few messages of thanks.
“Preparing the submission was a very important process for me and I really appreciate your kind and considerate approach in supporting me to go through it.”
“Thank you so much for your help. It really has made things so much easier to do and less stressful!”
“Thank you for all your hard work and effort that you have gone to for my submission. The work you've done for the veterans and the wider veteran community is exemplary.”
“I am happy with the submission. I have enjoyed working with you and found you to be kind, pleasant and understanding but above all extremely competent and professional.”
“Thank you so much for all your help, support and patience with this. (After the submissions deadline passes on October 13) have a drink for me, because you really do deserve it!”
Award nomination recognises the power of partnerships
Assisting veterans and ADF members is a team effort.
Across Australia, we greatly value our partnerships with other organisations that support those who have served.
Our WA team has been shortlisted for a major public service award that recognises its collaborative work with the RSL in Western Australia.
Our Perth lawyers (Mitch and Jim are pictured above) are finalists for an award provided by the Institute of Public Administration Australia. Winners will be announced in December.
Assistance for LGBTQIA+ people
Our assistance for LGBTQIA+ people has been highlighted in this ABC article on its Instagram platform.
In that piece, LGBTQIA+ veterans Joel and Yvonne (both pictured above) talk about the support we provide to those who have served.
Outside the wire - outreach across the nation
Across Australia, our staff have been working very long hours helping people to draft and lodge their Royal Commission submissions.
Where possible, we have also been attending Defence and veterans events to highlight the free support we provide.
As shown in the pictures immediately below, we’ve recently been at functions in metropolitan areas such as Hobart and in regional locations including Hexam and Orange in NSW.
The power of a cuppa in the Top End
Face-to-face conversations are a key part of our service.
And we know that catching up over a cuppa can be especially productive – particularly for people who have experienced trauma.
We were in Darwin last month to meet with our NT clients. While there, we attended the Billeroy House weekly morning tea and we also chatted with veterans at the Mad Snake Café.
We will be back in Darwin in early November. In the NT, and across Australia, we continue to provide free support to those who have served.
Future hearings and dates for your diary
The Royal Commission has held public hearings in Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Townsville, Hobart, Darwin, Wagga Wagga, Adelaide and Melbourne.
Key dates to be aware of:
Early 2024 - Royal Commission public hearings in Sydney (precise dates are to be confirmed)
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.
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 us at DAVLS@legalaid.nsw.gov.au.
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.
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 with legal issues.
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.
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.
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