Page 3753 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 26 August 2009

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The ACT, perhaps more than any other place in Australia, is touched by its defence community. We have over 5,000 defence personnel currently serving in the ACT. There are approximately 13,000 ex-service personnel and veterans living in the ACT. When you take in the defence families and the families of all the ex-serving personnel, it is a very significant number. The number of ADF personnel, indeed, is over 3,000. When you consider the number of children in schools and the wives and husbands in the workplace, it is an incredible proportion of our community. Most of us are touched by somebody that we know who is a serving member, a family member or an ex-service member.

Currently we have a number of ex-service personnel deployed on operations in harm’s way who are ACT residents. Our thoughts should go out to their families and friends. It is not easy being a member of a defence family. When we consider the issues of relocation, isolation and fitting into a new community, we should be doing everything that we can in the ACT to make the families of defence members welcome.

There are many hundreds of widows and dependants of service personnel who have died on active service or subsequently who live in the ACT. When all those factors are taken into account you find the ACT has the highest proportion of defence personnel of any state or territory in Australia. When you consider why the service community is so important, in very pragmatic terms it plays a significant role in our economy. Taking defence housing as an example, there are 1,800-plus homes in the ACT region. The economic activity that arises from defence is significant.

But more important is the recognition of the service of those members of our armed services who have served overseas and indeed in Australia. Last week we commemorated Vietnam Veterans Day. It was most encouraging to see the Chief Minister at that event. Next week is Legacy Week. No doubt we will all be encouraged to buy a badge as Legacy seeks to look after the dependants and widows of members who have served in the armed services and have passed on. It gives us pause to reflect. Unfortunately, in recent times we have had many occasions to do so.

At 6.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.

MR HANSON: When we reflect on the members that we have lost in Afghanistan of late, it serves to remind us of the contribution that is still being made by the Defence Force. There are many issues that affect defence families, but I want to turn specifically to those that affect veterans. There are many who have come back from overseas with physical harm and disabilities who also suffer mental anguish. War is not a pleasant place and many of our veterans have come back with problems. In particular, I note those who have come back from wars such as Korea, and in particular Vietnam, when the community’s support for those veterans was not what it should have been.

Many of our veterans are facing issues to do with ageing. There is much that can be done to support them in their later years. Community organisations play a very

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