The Hon Andrew Gee MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the devastating September 11 terrorist attacks that killed almost 3,000 innocent people including 10 Australians.
In 2001, the world watched in shock as two hijacked planes hit the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York, with a third plane flown into the Pentagon in Washington.
Brave passengers on a fourth flight attempted to enter its cockpit, forcing the terrorists to crash the plane into a field in Pennsylvania before it could reach its intended target.
On that day, the scope of al-Qa’ida’s violent terrorist vision was laid bare. Their intent to undermine the values of freedom and democracy was clear.
Within three days of the attack, Australia stood with the United States in their time of need as Prime Minister John Howard invoked the ANZUS Treaty for the first time. Parliament supported this decision on 17 September 2001. Now in its 70th year, the ANZUS Treaty stands as a powerful reminder that neither of our two countries stand alone.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Andrew Gee reflected on the 39,000 Australian Defence Force (ADF) members who served in support of operations in Afghanistan.
“We will never forget the service and sacrifice of our Afghanistan veterans including the 41 Australians who lost their lives serving our nation,” Minister Gee said.
“All Australians owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.
“When we reflect two decades on, our thoughts are with the United States, our friend and ally, and with all those who served to protect our freedoms from the scourge of terrorism.
“Our country wants to assure our ADF personnel and veterans that their service made Australia and the world safer and more secure by fighting the architects of terrorism on the ground in Afghanistan. We will never know how many Australian lives have been saved by the extraordinary work our defence personnel carried out over two decades.
“This is a difficult time for many Australians, including for our Afghanistan veterans and their families and we encourage anyone who may be struggling with their mental health to reach out for support.
“We are here for you.”
Support is available to anyone who needs it, including:
- Defence All-hours Support Line, call 1800 628 036, a confidential telephone service for ADF members and their families.
- Defence Member and Family Helpline, call 1800 624 608, staffed by qualified human services professionals including social workers.
- Open Arms Veterans & Families Counselling, call 1800 011 046, provides free and confidential counselling and support for current and former serving ADF members and their families.
- Defence Employee Assistance Program (EAP), call 1300 687 327, a free, confidential and professional counselling service available to Defence Australian Public Service (APS) employees, Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) employees, Australian Defence Force (ADF) Reservists, ADF Cadets, Officers and Instructors of ADF Cadets and their immediate families, and their supervisors/managers.
- Safe Zone Support, call 1800 142 072 (available 24/7), a free and anonymous counselling line, for veterans and their families, providing access to specialised counsellors, with an understanding of military culture and experience.
- Lifeline Australia, call 13 11 14 (available 24/7), a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
- More information can be found on the Department of Defence’s Mental Health Portal.
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 www.OpenArms.gov.au