Radio Interview - Radio 2CC Canberra Live

The Hon Matt Keogh MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel


SUBJECTS: Expressions of Interest for the Australian War Memorial Council.

HOST, NICHOLE OVERALL: The Australian Government is currently inviting expressions of interest for future positions on the Australian War Memorial Council. Those who know me and something of my background and interest, won't be surprised to learn that I'm very keen to promote this. And they're seeking diverse candidates with a range of professional and lived experiences to enhance the Memorial's capacity and knowledge. And on the line, we have with us the Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Defence Personnel, Matt Keogh. Good afternoon, Minister.


NICHOLE OVERALL: Yeah, thanks very much for coming on. So, what's the criteria that you're looking for in candidates who are expressing interest in becoming part of the Council?

MINISTER KEOGH: So, we're looking for a breadth of candidates here. So, there's an opportunity, with a number of terms expiring over the course of this year, for us to really fill out the breadth and depth of the Council; recognising that the work of the Australian War Memorial is actually quite broad. There's the obvious thing that it is a memorial, but I'm sure, as people will appreciate it also has a museum function. It's undertaking a huge expansion project, which is a big, big task, but it also has an archive function and a research function as well. And so, we want to make sure that we've got the proper cross-section of skills, experience across the Council. And so having this expression of interest process is a way of generating that broad set of potential candidates for the Council.

NICHOLE OVERALL: And without wanting to stray into that too much, but it can't go without a mention, is that the $548 million rebuild and expansion of the exhibition halls and museum spaces hasn't been without controversy, has it?

MINISTER KEOGH: Well, certainly I know some people have had different views about that expansion, but it's really important that as our national war memorial and museum, that it's able to reflect the breadth and length of Australia's involvement in conflict. And having just concluded a few years ago, our longest-ever conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is important to have the space to properly reflect that service. And that's what this expansion project allows for. But as you point out, the size of that project is really important. And so, making sure that we've got the capability and skills across the Council to manage a project of that size, as well as oversee all the other areas that I mentioned before, is really important. And that's what this expression of interest process is about.

NICHOLE OVERALL: Yes, it is indeed. So, how many members of the Council are there?

MINISTER KEOGH: Well, there's quite a few that are expiring over the course of this year. I think it's five this year and there's a few other Council Members that have only recently been appointed, and there's the three Service Chiefs from the Defence Force as well on there. So, there'll be five expiring this year. And that's why we're trying to generate a pool through this expression of interest process to look at all of those vacancies arising.

NICHOLE OVERALL: And what are the length of the terms?

MINISTER KEOGH: The terms are for a three-year term or up to three years. So, that's what we can look to appoint to. And so we are looking out and for anyone who's interested and listening, we're looking across people who've got a background of experience in service, family members, support, history, research, but obviously also financial management, project management, legal experience, account, all of those different areas that any well-functioning board oversighting, what is a large and important organisation are able to bring to bear in having proper governance for the Australian War Memorial.

NICHOLE OVERALL: Yes, all of these questions that I'm asking, one might think that I would be interested in such a role. And who knows? Is it voluntary, Minister?

MINISTER KEOGH: Members are paid for their attendance at the meetings of the War Memorial Council, as are people on most boards for Government agencies and organisations like the Australian War Memorial. And all of that sort of information is set out. We put together a website on the DVA job site that sets out all of the information about how to put in an expression of interest and for people who want to understand the role more deeply.

NICHOLE OVERALL: And the role itself, is it very involved? I mean, you're obviously talking, as you say, major projects, really significant national institution. How much is involved in it?

MINISTER KEOGH: Well, the board meets sort of a handful of times throughout the year as a full board or as required. But then also there are committees of the Council as well for differing things, like, for example, for the expansion project, audit process and other things. So, depending on what committees of the Council the Council Member may be a part of will determine the varying nature of involvement in the role.

NICHOLE OVERALL: And can you tell us then, what do interested parties need to do if they would like to submit an expression of interest?

MINISTER KEOGH: So, they should have a look at the website. So, if they go to the DVA webpage and go to the job section, they'll find out the information there. But all we're asking for is for people to provide a resume or a CV along with a short sort of paragraph or so about why they would be a good candidate to be a Member of the War Memorial Council.

NICHOLE OVERALL: And when would you be hoping to make these new appointments, and you said, so five positions, but not necessarily all at once.

MINISTER KEOGH: Well, there's a number that will be expiring in the middle of the year, so we're aiming to be ready to be making appointments for the middle of the year when those terms expire.

NICHOLE OVERALL: Okay. Well, thank you very much for joining us. And we won't hold you up any further, just in case those division bells ring so, Minister Matt Keogh, Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Defence Personnel, thanks for being on this afternoon.

MINISTER KEOGH: Thanks a lot, Nichole. Great to have been with you.

NICHOLE OVERALL: And that's a really important one. And obviously, anyone who knows my interest in history and as a social historian, I would definitely love to be involved, but I don't think I'll be putting myself forward for it. But definitely encourage others out there to give it serious consideration. 



Media contact

Stephanie Mathews (Minister Keogh’s Office): 0407 034 485
DVA Media: 

Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling provides 24/7 free confidential crisis support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families on 1800 011 046 or the Open Arms website. Safe Zone Support provides anonymous counselling on 1800 142 072. Defence All-Hours Support Line provides support for ADF personnel on 1800 628 036 or the Defence Health Portal. Defence Member and Family Helpline provides support for Defence families on 1800 624 608