Defence and Veteran Legal Services Newsletter—Issue 19 April 2024

Reflecting on Anzac Day

Dear supporters,

Anzac Day holds a special place in my heart.

As shown in this picture, I joined the Royal Australian Navy as a young woman. It was a rewarding, challenging and remarkable period of my life.

I eventually realised, however, that I wanted to serve my community as a lawyer working in the justice system. While I studied law, I continued to be a member of the Army Reserves.

I am proud to have served in the ADF. And I am equally proud to work for a service that supports current and former members of the Defence Force.

Throughout the year, and on Anzac Day in particular, I reflect on the contribution, and the sacrifice, of those who have served and those who have died.

Lest we forget.


Jasmine Stanton

Director of the Defence and Veterans Legal Service

Lest we forget

Photo of a man, Taras, with a wreath at a war memorial

They are just three short words set within a modest circle of flowers.

But they mean so much.

Lest we forget is a simple but enormoulsy profound phrase.

During the Anzac Day period we reflect on the contribution, and the sacrifice, of those who have served in Australia’s armed forces.

We remember the men and women who lost their lives while serving their country or when they returned home.

During this period, we attended commemorative ceremonies across Australia.

A photo of Karen with a wreath

Our staff member Karen laid this wreath at an Anzac Day event at a retirement village.

A man addresses the event.

We also attended this Coloured Digger event honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who served our country in overseas conflicts.

Taras with a wreath

Our staff member Taras laid a wreath in memory of those who lost their lives while serving their country or when they returned home.

1,000 enquiries and rising

We are priviliged to support high numbers of Australians who served their nation.

Since the closure of Royal Commission submissions in October, more than 1,100 people have contacted us for assistance.

Many of those enquiries relate to problems identified by the Royal Commission regarding veteran entitlements such as pensions, compensation and healthcare.

Our message to veterans is simple: tell your mates that free, independent and confidential legal support is available across Australia.

Stat Decs: how they work and why they matter

You might be asked to make a Statutory Declaration statement when applying to DVA, Comm Super or the ADF after you discharge.

People sometimes ask us about the purpose and value of a Statutory Declaration (also known as a Stat Dec).

A Statutory Declaration is a type of legal document that sets out facts that you declare to be true and accurate.

A Statutory Declaration could be used, for example, in situations where there might be a lack of other evidence regarding your application.

If you deliberately make a false statement in a Statutory Declaration, you can be charged with an offence.

For information or advice about legal documents, call us on 1800 33 1800.

Our assistance is free, independent and confidential - and we always strive to speak in plain language that avoids legal jargon.

Role Call: our Victorian lawyer John McDougall

Two photos of John doing mountain trekking.

John, what do you like about serving and ex-serving ADF people?

I have been particularly struck by the ongoing commitment to service that so many of our serving and ex-serving clients have demonstrated.

Many of them have recognised that the Royal Commission findings are probably not going to have any direct impact on them, or resolve their individual problems, but they have a commitment to ‘make things better’ for the next generation of service personnel.
It has also been quite inspirational to witness the bravery so many have shown in reliving traumatic events and telling their stories, often for the first time.

What do you most enjoy about your role?

Not coming from a service background, working as a DAVLS lawyer meant I had to develop a deeper understanding of a new area of law and new vocabulary; this is consistent with my philosophy of lifelong learning.

The role has allowed me to spend considerable time with clients and to fully hear their stories and understand the issues they are facing. Most importantly, it has provided an opportunity to support and empower those individuals.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?

Spending time with family; I’ve been married for more than 50 years and have two daughters and five grandkids. I enjoy ultramarathons (but am now reduced to walking rather than running) and I am a keen spectator of most sports. And as you can see in the photos, I love high altitude trekking.

What did you do before working as a lawyer with DAVLS?

I was a late entry into the law field, having previously had a career in the academic sector as a biomedical researcher, consultant and research manager. As mentioned, I have a very strong commitment to lifelong learning.

Call us on 1800 33 1800 for free legal assistance

Smiling woman, Jasmine Stanton, beside text that is as follows. "We provide free legal support to those who have served. That support can include information, general legal advice, preliminary assistance and guided referrals."

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. 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 in your community

three pictures of woman and men lawyers sitting at tables with DAVLS branding

We 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

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.

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.

Serving members

We travel widely to inform Defence Force members and their families about the support we provide to those who are currently serving.

Defence families

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.

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