Friday, 28 May 2010

Minister for Veterans' Affairs Mailing List - VA030

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel Alan Griffin encouraged Australians to reflect on the important contribution of peacekeepers in restoring and maintaining peace on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers tomorrow, 29 May.

“Peacekeepers serve in some of the most dangerous environments in the world – often risking their lives to help the people of countries in need,” Mr Griffin said.

“Currently there are more than 480 Australian Defence Force personnel on peacekeeping missions in locations including the Solomon Islands and East Timor.

“Australian peacekeepers comprising Australian Defence Force personnel, police officers and civilians have served in unstable countries, helping to restore order and protect the innocent victims of conflict.”

Funded by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the University of Melbourne is undertaking a study into the long-term effects on mental health and the quality of life of Australian Defence Force peacekeepers.

Some 1770 veterans will be randomly selected from deployments to Namibia, Western Sahara, Cambodia, Rwanda, Somalia and East Timor between the 1990s and 2002. Recruitment of study participants is expected to begin in July.

“This research will help us to better understand and respond to the future health needs of peacekeepers and peacemakers, now and into the future,” Mr Griffin said.

May 29 is the 62nd anniversary of the first United Nations approved peacekeeping operation to supervise the truce following the first Arab-Israeli War in 1948.

Australia’s first operation took place in 1947 when four military observers were sent to the Netherlands East Indies (present-day Indonesia). Their task was to observe a cease-fire between Dutch colonial forces and Indonesians seeking independence. Since then Australia has participated in more than 50 peacekeeping operations in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Pacific.

Australia’s peacekeeping roles have included providing a military presence, leadership, observation, enforcement, weapons destruction, de-mining training, democratic election support and disaster relief.

Media inquiries: Sasha Nimmo 0437 863 109

The VVCS – Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service can be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 011 046.