Veteran Advocate Criticizes Government’s Commitment to Veterans

Sky News

Former Special Forces Commando Heston Russell has accused the Albanese government of “paying lip service” to veterans, criticizing the Prime Minister for not fulfilling promises made to them. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has denied a grant application for a documentary on Afghanistan veterans’ post-military lives for the second consecutive year. The documentary, planned to be filmed at the Veteran Games in August, aims to highlight veterans’ positive transitions but requires additional funding.

Russell expressed frustration on Sky News, stating that the grant was denied because the Games are considered a sporting event. He emphasized the importance of showcasing positive stories to support at-risk veterans, a demographic identified by the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide.

Russell accused Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of breaking his 2021 promise to support veterans, noting the appointment of a non-veteran to the Veterans Affairs portfolio despite having experienced veterans in the cabinet. He highlighted the systemic issues and bureaucratic obstacles veterans face in getting support, despite government assurances.

The Royal Commission’s interim report, delivered in August 2022, made 13 recommendations to address veterans’ issues, including simplifying compensation legislation and eliminating claims backlogs. The final report is expected by September 9.

Sky News Australia has sought further information from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs regarding the grant decision but received no specific response.

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