Letter to the Editor: ADF personnel need our support

Tuesday, November 24 2020

The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel

Dear Editor,

The last thing Australian Defence Force personnel, their families and our veterans need right now is your judgement. They need our support.

In the wake of the release of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Inquiry into Afghanistan, there has been plenty of media commentary quick to judge our servicemen and women.

But we can’t allow the alleged actions of a few people, stain the reputations and the service of more than two million Australians who have done their duty with distinction throughout our nation’s history.

They are the first people we turn to when things get difficult or too big for state authorities such as last Summer’s bushfires and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And they keep us safe in an ever-changing world with peacekeeping missions and involvement in conflicts such as Afghanistan.

The courage, service and sacrifice of those wearing our nation’s uniform who have done the right thing, must not be defined or diminished by this small minority. These are very serious allegations which require thorough investigation but all Australians are entitled to the presumption of innocence.

If you know a serving Australian Defence Force member, or a veteran, please show them your support. And if you are a Defence member, or a veteran, or one of the many families that support them, I would also ask you to please reach out if you need someone to talk to.

For all current Australian Defence Force members and their families, the Defence all-hours Support Line is a confidential telephone and online service and is available on 1800 628 036. And for all current and former ADF members, and their families, Open Arms provides 24-hour free and confidential counselling and support on 1800 011 046.

Open Arms also has support available through SafeZone and when you call, it is up to you how much or how little personal information you share. This is available on 1800 142 072.

Thank you for your service.

Darren Chester MP

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Minister for Defence Personnel

Media contacts

Rachel Tharratt: 02 6277 7820

DVA Media: 02 6289 6466

Office of the Hon Darren Chester, Canberra ACT

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 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au