Senator McGRATH: Many people and many organisations assist those who have served and those who are serving in the defence of our country, and their families. One organisation that I’ve had a bit to do with is the Defence Force Welfare Association. On Monday, their longstanding national president, Colonel David Jamison AM, announced his retirement. I met with David and his colleagues numerous times on a range of issues that impacted the Defence and veterans’ community—from an Australian defence covenant, to recognition of awards for service and helping with veterans’ super and veterans’ support. David and his colleagues have met many people in this building and you would have seen him as a regular in corridors blue, green or red. I have always found David to be a genuine servant for the interests of Defence personnel and veterans. He has worked towards practical outcomes to improve life for them and their families. So tonight I want to pay tribute to David for his service and thank him, however briefly, for all his work and all the counsel that he’s provided on behalf of the veterans’ community.
David was elected as a National President of the Defence Force Welfare Association in May 2007. An ex-Army ordnance officer, he served in the Australian Defence Force for 23 years in varying command positions, including command of the Army’s Field Supply Battalion in the Operational Deployment Force in South Vietnam. He’s been a member of the Returned and Services League since 1967 and President of the successful Ringwood RSL sub-branch since 2014. David also served as a member of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs ex-service round table consultative forum. David’s successes as National President are many. During his distinguished and successful 10-year tenure, the Defence Force Welfare Association has grown in its effectiveness as a representative advocacy body for better service conditions and support for all members of the Australian Defence Force, and their families, both during and after their periods of service. Moreover, the association has been at the forefront of promoting unity within the wider ex-service community. That unity has translated into a firmer, more cohesive and louder veterans’ voice being heard within government and the media nationwide. David’s drive and vision was instrumental to the formation in 2010 of the Alliance of Defence Service Organisations, which now includes 17 associations. More recently, David has worked towards the establishment of an even wider group of Defence community focused bodies, including the Returned and Services League and Legacy. Each member of this group has agreed to collaborate in an environment of respect and trust to better promote and protect the wellbeing of members of the Australian Defence and Veterans Community.
Arguably one of his greatest passions has been his work as a driving force to have the unique nature of military service recognised widely. I have spoken in this place before about my belief in properly recognising the service, and I can attest to the efforts and support that David has given to this cause. Indeed, in his very first ministerial statement on veterans and their families, Minister Dan Tehan stated with clarity: ‘It is important that all Australians understand the unique nature of service.’ David’s considered advocacy has played an important role in bringing this concept to the forefront of our national consciousness, along with many others in the community who cannot all be named here tonight. Proper recognition of that concept can be of benefit to the serving and ex-service communities for many years to come. All governments can do better, but I’m proud that this coalition government is standing with our Defence and veterans’ community and is committed to doing better where needed.
To David and your family: thank you, and all the best for your future endeavours. To David’s successor, Kel Ryan; to the executive director, Alf Jaugietis, who is here in the gallery this evening; and to the rest of the team at the Defence Force Welfare Association: I commend you and wish you all the best.