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The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC


19 October 2018

Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling Launch

The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) has been relaunched today as Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling based on feedback from veterans and veterans’ families.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the counselling service, originally founded as the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service, has been providing essential face to face counselling services to Australian veterans for more than 35 years.

“Our Government is putting veterans and their families first and provides more than $11.2 billion each year to deliver the essential services and programs they rely on,” Mr Chester said.

“If you have served one full day in the Australian Defence Force you can access free mental health care whether that condition is service related or not.

“Last year alone, around 100,000 counselling sessions were provided to more than 27,000 veterans and their families.”

Mr Chester said the rebrand was designed through extensive consultation and feedback from VVCS clients, veterans, staff and Ex-Service Organisations to increase awareness of the service so more veterans and their families know where to go for help if they need it.

“This new name and brand will help promote the service, especially to younger veterans and their families, to ensure more veterans and families know where to gain access to the help they need.

“Along with face-to-face counselling, the service now offers training programs and peer support networks, relationship retreats, group treatment programs and suicide prevention courses.

Open Arms is a lasting legacy of the Vietnam veterans who identified that the psychological impacts of war, and also military service itself, often last decades after the physical wounds have healed.”

More information

An animation explaining the name change

Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling

Media contacts

Whil Prendergast: 0427 672 815
DVA Media: 02 6289 6466

Office of the Hon Darren Chester MP, Canberra

Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546) or visit