Eminent Scientist to lead Advisory Panel on Impact of War Service on Veterans' Children
- Wednesday 18 October 2006


A distinguished epidemiologist will lead a new expert advisory panel on the intergenerational effects of military service on the children of veterans, including Vietnam veterans, Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Bruce Billson, announced today.

The Minister said the appointment of Professor Elizabeth Waters to chair the new Advisory Panel on Intergenerational Effects was part of the Government's comprehensive approach to addressing the health needs of the children of Vietnam veterans.

"The Australian Government is committed to being at the leading edge of international research into the effects of war service on children of veterans. We wish to ensure that the services and support we provide current veterans and their families are world class, while also reducing the potential harm of future deployments," Mr Billson said.

"I am pleased that Professor Elizabeth Waters will lead this expert panel and advise me on scientific developments in the intergenerational effects of military service and appropriate improvements and measures to address new insights that impact on the nature and shape of my Department's service delivery and support for veterans' children."

Professor Waters is an epidemiologist and Professor of Public Health with Deakin University's School of Health and Social Development. She has a proven track record studying health indicators in children and the effectiveness of public health interventions.

The Advisory Panel on Intergenerational Effects will conduct peer reviews of future research concerning the health impact on children resulting from a parent's military service and deployment and report to Government on any pertinent findings.

"Professor Waters' experience as a Director of the Health Promotion and Public Health Field of the Cochrane Collaboration, undertaking reviews of research findings in order to influence service provision and clinical practice, is directly relevant to the primary role of the Advisory Panel," Minister Billson said.

"The Department of Veterans' Affairs will now work with Professor Waters to identify the necessary cross disciplinary academic expertise required on the Advisory Panel.

"Combined with the recent appointment of the Centre for Military and Veterans' Health to develop a research protocol to enable further research into the health of children of Vietnam veterans, we now have both a practical and responsive framework in place to ensure the timely evaluation of clinical insights and new research, while providing immediate, improved access to services and support," Mr Billson said.

The Australian Government recognises that the sons and daughters of Vietnam veterans experience higher rates of some health conditions compared to the wider population. As a result, a range of programs to address health needs, including mental health support, have already been implemented.

This includes free access to the Vietnam Veterans' Counselling Service. The service was recently extended to provide support for the sons and daughters of Vietnam veterans who are aged 36 and over.

"The Vietnam Veterans Children's Support Program also sees treatment-related benefits provided to the sons and daughters of Vietnam veterans who were conceived after their parents' Vietnam War service and who are medically certified as having spina bifida manifesta, cleft lip, cleft palate, adrenal gland cancer or acute myeloid leukaemia," Mr Billson said.

Cameron Hill
Mobile: 0419 355 226