The Hon Andrew Gee MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
SCOTT EMERSON: This week is Legacy Week, is a chance for people to honour the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect Australia and support their widows and loved ones. And this year it comes at a particularly challenging time for our soldiers, especially for those who served in Afghanistan. Andrew Gee is the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence personnel, and he joins me on the line now. Minister, thank you for being on 4BC Drive.
ANDREW GEE: Thanks for having on the show, Scott. And good afternoon to all of your listeners.
SCOTT EMERSON: Now, just before we get on to Legacy Week, Minister, obviously, we heard the devastating news coming out of Townsville about two soldiers who have lost their lives this afternoon. Any update?
ANDREW GEE: No, I haven't got further details and the families are just in the process of being notified. Obviously a very, very tragic incident just outside of Townsville at Dotswood. There was a vehicle rollover and unfortunately, we've lost two members of the Australian Defence Force and it's a terrible tragedy. And as I said in the Parliament today, our hearts and our sincere condolences go out to the families and also the work colleagues of those who lost their lives today. And it's a very small community, the defence community. When these incidents happen, it rocks a whole communities. It rocks towns and cities and it rocks the defence community. So we just want all of the families and friends and colleagues to know that our whole nation is very devastated. And we will just keep you posted as to what the situation is. I think the family are in the process of being notified and we'll just have to respect that process and just make sure that they are okay if any other Defence Force personnel need any help or support, we've got Open Arms which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we have safe zone support as well. So please access those numbers if you do need help. But this is a very tragic incident and quite shocking and will rock many communities today. So it's an awful situation. And I think the Parliament was very shocked, very subdued. And the whole Parliament and the nation sends it condolences to the loved ones of those as today.
SCOTT EMERSON: I'm talking to Andrew Gee, the Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Defence Personnel, yes, it was a tragedy up there. And we'll look forward to more information about that. This is Legacy Week, what we've got you on the programme to talk about now. And look, my father is a veteran, so I know how important Legacy is. Just explain to the listeners what Legacy does.
ANDREW GEE: So Legacy supports the families and dependents and loved ones, of all those who lost their lives serving Australia or those who've been seriously injured serving our country. And so it's played a vitally important for our nation and we can't do without Legacy. And so that made a difference to so many people's lives and are still working today. Widows that many local Legacy organisations are working with from the Second World War. And the work goes on and there are 43000 families and dependents that Legacy supports, but they can't do this work without valuable fundraising. And that's why Legacy Week is so important. I guess the thing about this year's Legacy Week, is we normally in so many communities around Australia, including my own, I'm from Orange in New South Wales and you normally see the school students are out selling Legacy badges, I used to do it when I was at school. We see cadets. We see ADF reserves and personnel out selling these merchandise. But because so many communities are in lockdown this year, it's not going to be that possible to do that. Some communities can, but a lot can't. And so we need to get the message out there, the thing that all Australians can do in lockdown is get out and support Legacy and you can do it online by going to legacy.com.au. You can buy the traditional badges, you can buy Scott, some cute Legacy teddy bears. And there's a Legacy Bear for every branch of the service, even an Anzac Teddy bear, there's all sorts of things you can buy or if you just want to make a donation, you can do that as well. But if it's one thing that you can do in lockdown that can make a difference, is to support Legacy Week and their all important work.
SCOTT EMERSON: Well, thank you for that, Minister. It does do a great service out there and I appreciate you being on the show to talk about it as well as giving update regarding that situation in Townsville.
ANDREW GEE: Thanks for having me on the show and thank you for your support for not only ADF personnel but veterans, 4BC has always been right behind our Defence Force men and women, and that continues to this day.
SCOTT EMERSON: Thank you for that, Minister.
** End of transcript **
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