Significant new appointments to help shape the future of veterans' support

Sunday, August 23 2020

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

FUTURE support for our veteran community has been given a significant boost with the appointment of two senior positions to the Repatriation Commission.

Ms Kate Pope PSM has been appointed to the role of Deputy President and Major General Stuart Smith AO DSC (Retd) will act in the role of Defence Engagement Commissioner.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester congratulated Ms Pope and Major General Smith on their appointments and said he looked forward to working with them both to ensure the Government had the best possible policies in place to support Australia’s veteran community into the future.

“Deputy President Pope will be heavily involved in the decision making of the Repatriation Commission and Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission, which make critical decisions about the services and support for 300,000 current and former members of the Australian Defence Force and their families,” Mr Chester said.

“Kate will also be the Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ senior executive responsible for leading the development of veterans and families’ policy and ensuring DVA’s service delivery functions are shaped and directed by Government policy.

“As the Defence Engagement Commissioner, Major General Smith will be responsible for engaging with Defence on behalf of the Repatriation Commission, with a focus on strategic planning and advising on what future generations of veterans will look like.

“He will provide advice to Government on the future direction of the ADF, ensuring our future veterans have the support they need, when and where they need it.

“Australians recognise the significant contribution of our Defence Force personnel and the Government provides over $11 billion annually to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs to support our veteran community.

“These two appointments are crucial in helping to determine how that investment is utilised both now and into the future. I congratulate both Kate and Stuart on their appointments.”

The Repatriation Commission and Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission, through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, provide income support, compensation, health care, rehabilitation and other benefits and services for current and former members of the Australian Defence Force and eligible dependants.

Please see below for further detail on the profiles of the new appointments.


Media contacts

Rachel Tharratt: 02 6277 7820

DVA Media: 02 6289 6466

Office of the Hon Darren Chester, Canberra ACT

Short profiles

(please contact DVA Media for further information)

Ms Kate Pope PSM  - Deputy President of the Repatriation Commission

Ms Kate Pope PSM has been appointed as Deputy President of the Repatriation Commission for a 5-year term. Kate has over thirty years experience in the Australian Public Service, including at a senior level in the Departments of Immigration and Health. Kate has a passion for supporting our veterans and has been a Senior Executive at DVA since 2016, most recently as First Assistant Secretary, Veterans’ Services Design Division. She has acted in the Deputy President role since May 2020.

Kate has made a significant contribution to the Department and the veteran community and has been a key contributor to DVA’s Veteran Centric Reform Program, which has transformed the way we provide services and support to veterans and their families in recent years.

Major General Stuart Smith AO DSC (Retd) - Defence Engagement Commissioner

Major General Stuart Smith AO DSC (Retd) has been appointed as the Commissioner for Defence Engagement for an initial 12-month period.

Stuart had a distinguished military career prior to his retirement from the ADF in 2017. He was promoted to Major General in 2012 when he became Commander of Australia’s 3,000 Defence Force personnel in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Following his return to Australia he was appointed as Commander, First Division ADF Brisbane (2013 - 2015) and in the two-year period leading up to his retirement was Deputy Commander of Joint Operations, ADF (Canberra).

After leaving the ADF he became an Advisor to the Queensland Premier on community solutions to Youth Crime and from late 2018 until mid 2019 he was State Disaster Recovery Coordinator for the Central Queensland Bushfires and the North Queensland Monsoon Floods, where he led the community infrastructure environmental recovery operations across Queensland.

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