Veteran Family Advocate appointed to the MRCC

Thursday, March 4 2021

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

The perspectives of veteran’s families will continue to be represented in veteran policy and the administration of veteran entitlement and compensation claims, after the Veteran Family Advocate was appointed as a member on the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (MRCC) today.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said the inaugural Veteran Family Advocate, Commissioner Gwen Cherne, brought expertise and passion to the Commission that would result in even stronger outcomes for Australia’s veterans and their families.

“Gwen was appointed as Veteran Family Advocate last August and as a standing Commissioner on the Repatriation Commission is already making a significant difference, providing me and my Department with important insights into the perspectives of veteran’s families,” Mr Chester said.

“I congratulate Gwen on her appointment and look forward to continuing to work with her as she expands on this important work. Her passion and experience in supporting the ex-service community will help to ensure the Government continues to put veterans and their families first.”

The appointment is made as part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring the perspectives of veterans’ families are represented on and directly inform the work of the Commission in setting veteran policy and the administration of veteran entitlement and compensation claims.

The MRCC was established under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA). The MRCA provides compensation and other benefits for current and former members of the Australian Defence Force who suffer an injury or disease due to service on or after 1 July 2004. It also provides for the dependants of members whose deaths were the result of an injury or disease due to service on or after 1 July 2004.

The Repatriation Commission is responsible under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (VEA) for granting pensions, allowances and other benefits, providing treatment and other services and generally administering the Act.

For more information on the Commissions, visit the DVA website.

Media contacts

Rachel Tharratt or Cedric Szigeti: 02 6277 7820

DVA Media: 02 6289 6466

Office of the Hon Darren Chester, Canberra ACT

Biography — Veteran Family Advocate — Commissioner Gwen Cherne

Gwen Cherne, the Veteran Family Advocate Commissioner, standing in front of a lectern and speaking. She is wearing a black and white stripey dress.

Gwen Cherne was appointed as the inaugural Veteran Family Advocate, and standing Commissioner on the Repatriation Commission in August 2020. Gwen is an Australian War Widow and the mother of a currently serving Defence member.

Since the death of her husband to suicide in 2017 she has dedicated herself to advocacy for Australian war widows, defence and veterans’ families, suicide prevention and mental health awareness.

Gwen was appointed to the Council of the Australian War Memorial in 2019, was an inaugural Member of the Council for Women and Families United by Defence Service, served on the board of the Australian War Widows’ NSW chapter, was an Ambassador for the Commando Welfare Trust and Gotcha4Life and was a 2018 Invictus Games Ambassador for ClubsNSW.

Born in the United States, her career has taken her all around the world, including the US, Australia, Afghanistan, Africa, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, with a focus on stability, relief, and development for youth, women, and families living in crisis and extreme poverty.

In her early career she co-founded a school for low-income children in Brooklyn, NY. She worked in Afghanistan off and on for three years as an international development worker in the Central and South Regions and as Regional Director in Jalalabad and Kabul. After returning to the US Gwen worked as a Senior Trainer and Manager for Curriculum and Training for military, Foreign Service Officers and other civilians preparing for deployment.

More recently, she spent seven years working at the Australian Civil-Military Centre as a Program Manager and Assistant Director for Research.

Gwen has a Bachelors degree in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies and a Masters degree in Public Administration with a concentration in International Policy from the NYU Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service.

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