Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 21 September 2017) . . Page.. 4127 ..
MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for Regulatory Services, Minister for the Arts and Community Events and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (4.17): As minister for veterans, it is indeed an honour to speak this afternoon on this matter of public importance. I thank Mr Hanson for bringing this to the Assembly. Indeed, veterans are an enormous asset to our community. Since becoming veterans minister a little under a year ago, it has been a great privilege to meet with a great many of the veterans organisations we have here in the ACT, to hear their stories, to discuss their challenges and to participate in their commemorative events.
Today I want to acknowledge the presence of Pat McCabe OAM in the chamber. Pat is a member of the current Veterans Advisory Council, as well as a member of the incoming Veterans Advisory Council. I thank her for her work in this area, as well as her important work in the broader community.
We know that there are over 5,500 veterans in the ACT who are clients of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, although not all veterans are DVA clients. DVA, however, believes that the total number of veterans in the ACT that are no longer actively serving is more likely to be around 20,000, making them a very significant number of those living in the ACT.
We also know that the average age now of people separating from the Defence Force is around 31 years. For these veterans, supporting their health, wellbeing and participation in civilian employment are key considerations relayed to me in my conversations with ex-service organisations, with DVA and with veterans themselves.
The chair and the deputy chair of my newly appointed Veterans Advisory Council have spoken to me about three key priorities for veterans and for their families in our city. These are: acknowledgement and recognition, community and health support, and transition to civilian employment. I look forward to working with the new council and I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the work of the current council, who have been instrumental in providing advice to me on how we can support the veterans of the ACT.
I have been focusing, and I will continue to focus, my efforts in each of the areas and more, but today I will concentrate my remarks primarily on employment and how we can find practical measures that will assist our veterans to make their transition to new jobs and new careers. This is work that benefits us all.
We know that employment is a key factor in being connected and feeling valued. Our veterans are some of our most highly skilled, trained and experienced people in our community. They have significant training to be leaders in a wide variety of fields, often having to perform complex and technical roles under intense pressure. Connecting and supporting veterans into compatible civilian roles not only makes good policy; it also makes good sense.
But we must also be clear about the challenges that are facing many veterans in the transition to civilian life, and work with them to overcome the barriers. For example,