The fourteen members of the newly established Prime Ministerial Advisory Council on Ex-Service Matters have met for the first time.
During the meeting, conducted on October 9 and 10 in Canberra, the Council have confirmed its terms of reference, investigated some of the current consultative arrangements for the veterans community and began considering some of the major issues facing the portfolio.
The Council also met with the Prime Minister, who said that the establishment of the advisory body was an important achievement for the Government and that he looked forward to receiving its advice.
The Chair of the Council, Dr Allan Hawke, said he was pleased by the progress of the first meeting. "We have decided how the Council will work and report to the Government. We have also begun to discuss key topics such as mental health in the veteran community and how we plan to address other priority areas," he said.
"It was encouraging to have the Prime Minister join our first meeting and hear his views on the importance of the Council," said Dr Hawke.
The Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Alan Griffin, also attended the Council meeting. Dr Hawke said the Council would work closely with the Minister in providing advice to the Government.
Mr Griffin said he expected the Council to provide advice and recommendations and identify priority issues facing the ex-service and defence communities. "I am pleased that the Council has now been established, as we promised prior to the election. Based on the outcomes of the first meeting, I believe the Council is well placed to fulfil its role of providing a collective voice for the veteran community," he said.
Prior to the next formal meeting of the Council in March 2009, it will have informal, out of session meetings.
The Council's Terms of Reference and names of the Council Members are attached.
Media inquiries: Phil Pyke 0439 445 831
Members of Prime Ministerial Advisory Council on Ex-Service Matters:
Dr Allan Hawke - Chair, ACT
Mr Frank Benfield, Queensland
Group Captain Dr Robert Black AM RFD, South Australia
Hon Graham Edwards, Western Australia
Mrs June Healy OAM, ACT
Commodore Nick Helyer MBE RANR, NSW
Warrant Officer Peter Hind OAM, Queensland
Mr Kenneth Kipping AM, ACT
Ms Gail MacDonell, NSW
Ms Anne Pahl, Victoria
Mr Phil Pyke, Tasmania
Ms Donna Reggett, Queensland
Brigadier Keith V Rossi (Rtd) AM OBE RFD ED, Victoria
Brigadier Neil Weekes (Rtd) AM MC, Queensland
Terms of Reference - Prime Ministerial Advisory Council on Ex-Service Matters
The Prime Ministerial Advisory Council on Ex-Service Matters is a body established to consider and advise the Prime Minister and Government on strategic and complex matters. Its aim is to:
* provide advice on major issues affecting the ex-service and defence communities with a view to facilitating a better future for members of these communities;
* review proposed legislation and its impact on the ex-service and defence communities;
* advise on ex-service matters which impact directly on the responsibilities of other government departments; and
* consider and assist the prioritising of issues raised or referred by the Prime Minister and/or the Minister.