June 4 - 10 2023: Issue 586
Richard Menhinick AM, CSC
Commodore RAN, (Retired), President Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch
The new President of the Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch has served Australia for almost 50 years in our Defence Forces. His story is definitely a case of 'join the Navy and see the world' along with the wide range of roles a person can undertake in our Defence Forces.
Commodore Richard Temple Menhinick AM, CSC is a retired senior officer of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Richard joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1976, finishing his training in 1980 he underwent training as a Principal Warfare Officer and in 1983 was posted as the naval Aide-de-Camp to the Governor of Tasmania, Sir James Plimsoll.
Richard went on to serve as exchange Officer with the Royal Navy on board HMS Cardiff and has served as the commanding officer of HMAS Anzac, HMAS Warramunga – 1st commission - and served as the executive officer of HMAS Hobart.
He was serving as the Commandant of the Australian Command and Staff College until 2012 when he handed over to Brigadier Peter Gates.
In transitioning into private capacity, although Commodore(Rt’d.) Menhinick’s story is one of success and being able to share knowledge that has benefitted Australia and Australians – serving still really – although it was not the smooth, supported, transition it could have been.
Richard seems to be bent on ‘getting the job done’ and not pausing for praise – he is a straight talker and one who sees all as equals. Richard genuinely cares about others, whatever their background, in whichever settings he meets them, despite the rank he achieved in the RAN and the deployments he undertook. He is essentially a man who loves his wife and family and our area, having grown up here since his family moved to Australia when he was just 2 years of age.
This Issue a small insight into the long and winding road, or sea paths, of one of our own.
Where were you born?
In Eastbourne, in Sussex England. We came out to Australia when I was 2. My father had been British Merchant Navy for 20 years and my mother had been in the Air Force for Britain during the war. Her father had died during a medical incident during the war, so she came out to Australia. Mum and dad had known each other for about 21 years before they finally got married. Dad kept disappearing at sea. So mum and her family came out to Melbourne in 1947. Dad turned up a few years later and mum agreed to marry him as long as stopped sailing around the oceans. I was the second of three children.
Mum and dad had travelled the world by then and Britain was still on rations after WWII, in fact rationing was part of everyday life there for 10 years after that conflict. They didn’t think there would offer the sort of life they wanted for their children, and they loved Australia, so mum said she was happy to move, as long as it wasn’t back to Melbourne.
We sailed out to Sydney as a result, but not as ten-pound Poms. Dad already had a job in T.V., out here as a television technician. So, we moved out here in 1962.
That job fell through and within a few weeks we had about £50 of money left. Fortunately, Dad had a TV repair business on the side and I think he found himself repairing Sir Frank Packer’s TV one day and Frank Packer offered him a job at Channel 9. He ended up being a television technician on the outside-broadcast for Channel 9 at Willoughby for 20 years or so – doing all the races, the World Series Cricket, the golf and Young Doctors. Frank Packer was a great businessman, as was Kerry Packer later on, so they used the outside-broadcast to film Young Doctors during the week. Dad really enjoyed working for them.
So, you grew up around Willoughby?
No, at Belrose. We had a house at Seaforth, so I first went to Seaforth Infants School. Then we went to Belrose as Belrose was opening up in 1965/66. I went to Wakehurst Public School and then I was in the foundation year at Davidson High School.
I played rugby for Wakehurst Rugby Club from the age of 7, used to come down here and play at the Careel Bay Playing fields against Avalon, back when it was a mud pit. Mum used to drive me home and I’d clean up and the bath water would just be mud – I think I almost drowned in the mud at Avalon a few times.
We would go to Freshwater all the time for our beach.
You joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1976?
I did, yes – at the age of 16 – I did Year 11 and 12 at the Naval College.
There were 30 Australians from all around Australia and 5 New Zealanders in my class. We did the NSW HSC Curriculum – you had to do Mathematics 3 Unit, you had to do Physics and Chemistry, and then you had English and a choice of either History or Geography. I chose History. You also did the Naval Training in and around all that – I think I spent the entire two years of doing the HSC absolutely exhausted, but you learnt a lot, you learnt a lot about survival. (laughs)
Where did you go from there?
I ended up doing 4 years at the Naval College at Jervis Bay. When I graduated, then, you could be what was called a Seaman’ Officer, Supply Officer or an Engineer. I didn’t have an Engineering bent and wanted to drive ships so I became a Seaman’ Officer – you needed to have good vision and not be colourblind, amongst other qualifications. So I started on my Junior Officers training at sea in a number of Australian ships, getting my Bridge-watching Ticket, which is a bit like getting your driving licence at sea; so you drive the ship around for the Captain. I did that for quite a few years.
I then went down to Tasmania as the naval Aide-de-Camp to the Governor of Tasmania, Sir James Plimsoll, and did 14 months at Government House.
What was the job description for that?
The job description was varied. Sir James Plimsoll, who was the Governor when I was there, was a very esteemed and well-regarded Australian diplomat. He had been an Ambassador to all sorts of places form Britain to Japan. Obviously you had the Official Secretary and staff in the House that dealt with the Tasmanian Government and the legal issues of being the Governor and Executive Council.
My main job was to organise his external trips and to be his Aide-de-Camp in the House as well. So when we had dinners, parties or lunches I would meet the guests with the butler and I would organise the dinner seating arrangements and then sit at dinner with him to help entertain guests.
For the away trips around Tasmanian I would do a reconnoitre trip to organise it all, to meet the people and set them at their ease and sort out the timings of exactly how long it took to go places and what we would do. I would then accompany the Governor on those trips to make sure they all worked properly.
People can be very nervous and Sir James was a lovely guy and wanted everyone to be relaxed, and was really interested in Tasmania so wanted to get at the heart of what was going on. He was a Sydney-sider himself, and a bachelor, and in the 14 months I had the privilege of serving him, he was all about the Tasmanian cuisine, Tasmanian products and very much the Governor of Tasmania rather than the Governor of Hobart. I think I did 55 thousand kilometres in my 14 months there – I should have become a Tasmanian Tour guide, there were few places in Tasmania I hadn’t been to 3 or 4 times by the time I left.
You then went to serve with the Royal Navy on HMS Cardiff?
Yes. When I returned from Tasmania I became a Fighter Controller. I was trained by the RAAF up at Williamtown to control their jets at sea from my ships. I went and did that for a while and then did the big Warfare Course to qualify myself as a Warfare Officer. My first job was 2 years in the U.K. on a British destroyer, HMS Cardiff, which was based at Portsmouth.
I was the gunnery Officer of that ship for 2 years and one part of that was doing 6 months in the Persian Gulf as part of the Royal Navy’s “Armilla patrol” towards the end of the Iran - Iraq conflict.
You have also served as the Commanding Officer of HMAS Anzac and HMAS Warramunga?
I was lucky to Commission Warramunga – she was the 5th Anzac class ship built by us at Williamstown Dockyard in Melbourne and the 3rd Australian Anzac class ship, as 2 were built for New Zealand. I was the Commissioning Commanding Officer of her and commanded her for 2 years.
I was then lucky enough to get a second Command and that was for HMAS Anzac, based in Western Australia.
What was it like being stationed in Western Australia?
It was good actually. The west is good once you get there, the only trouble is it was a long way away from all my family supports on the East Coast. Because my children were at school then, and we’d moved to Canberra, and I was going to be at sea for most of my 2-year command, (I didn’t have any refits due, she was operational), my wife and I made the decision that she would stay in Canberra with the children and I went to Perth by myself and we’d fly backwards and forth, depending on whether I was alongside or not.
You must have been exhausted?
I knew the red-eye very well, and luckily there were a couple of direct flights into Canberra from Perth as well. You could go home and spend the weekend and then jump on the plane in Canberra on the Sunday, and with the time difference, get back to Perth on the same evening. That worked quite well at the time.
Were you married by the time you were deployed to conflict zones?
We married halfway through my time in Britain. My wife was finishing a degree in Newcastle when I was posted to Britain. I went over there for 7 months and then when she finished her degree I flew home and we married and then she joined me for the last year and a half in Britain.
So you were married when you were serving in the Middle East?
Yes, aboard Brisbane for the Gulf War and also in Cardiff for the Middle East.
How did Michelle cope with you being in a conflict zone, lots of sleepless nights?
You’d have to ask her, but I’d say so. In those days there was no internet and no immediacy of communications unless you were alongside and got into a phone box and used that. All communications was by letter – we’d number each letter, which we still have today, somewhere around the house. So I’d number each letter; 1, 2 3 and so on – and then the mail would disappear and arrive in the bulk and she would try to open the letters in order and she would do the same in reverse.
You then went on to serve as the Commandant of the Australian Command and Staff College – that’s a BIG job?
It was a great job too because the command of the Staff College is about looking after mid-career Officers that are going from being single service specialities – they’re specialists – to being ready to do joint operations, combined operations and strategic policy positions. So they are in their 30’s to 40’s, so it’s an adult cohort.
We redid the Course – the course was a combined course, which had a heavy university component as well. I really enjoyed that job.
You received an AM for the work you did there, the citation reads ‘For exceptional service to the Royal Australian Navy as Director General Navy Transformation and Innovation and Commandant of the Australian Command and Staff College’ – so that ‘redid the course’ must have been a substantial shift?
The AM was also about the work I did leading the New Generation Cultural Reform for the Navy. Back in 2009 we were having we were having a hard time retaining and recruiting people and training people up, so we did this huge review of Navy’s culture and leadership and the structure. I was mainly interested in the culture and leadership so I brought in an external firm and together with them we did a combined team on changing Navy and leading change. So part of the AM was the work I did on changing culture in Navy as well.
The records show in that consultation you spoke to everyone form the junior people up top the people at the top – why did you include everyone?
My thought was the only way you can work out what is going on in an organisation is to talk to the people who are really in it. Instead of just giving it to this company to go and do we did integrated teams so the company experts and the Navy experts would go out together. We went all around Australia, all the major establishments, and those on ships. We spoke to officers and juniors in groups of six. We’d be in a big room with officers and sailors split up in groups of six – we’d ask them why they joined the Navy and why they were staying or why they were leaving. When I pooled all that information we worked out that they joined for pride, excellence, service and excitement. If we were failing them in 2 or 3 of those things they would leave – and bluntly speaking back then we were failing them in 2 or 3 of those things.
This led to the new motto of the Navy; ‘Serving Australia with Pride’. That all came out of serving with pride and excellence.
We took that report back to the senior people and said you need to sort out this because people join for those 4 things and if you don’t deliver that early on, they will get disillusioned and they will go.
We have a photo here of you with U.S. Naval War College (NWC) President Rear Adm. John Christenson – you spent some time in the US as well as Director Combined Strategic Analysis Group (CSAG), Headquarters US Central Command as the Leader and Manager for 3 years. What was it like living in Florida – and did you take the youngsters?
We took our youngest as she was in Year 9 then. Our eldest daughter had just completed her HSC the year we left and our son was already at university. So our two eldest stayed in Australia at university and our youngest came with us for a year. As we would return home before she finished school in America she came back to Australia after a year and boarded at Barker College for 3 years.
I loved living in Florida. We were in Tampa, which is halfway up the West Coast. We used to sit there in winter watching all the storms smashing into North America going ‘why isn’t everyone in Florida?’. I got right into Ice Hockey – up the Tampa Bay Lightning!, and the baseball – up the Tampa Bay Rays! - and the footy – go the Tampa Bay Buccaneers!
I was a really great experience and I was working with outstanding people. I was lucky to do this; I was leading an international think tank. We would provide strategic advice to the American Command. In its first year this was Jim Mattis, then it was Lloyd Austin, both of whom became Secretary of Defence, from a non-American perspective. It was a really powerful thing that the Americans did, getting the viewpoint of others. So, a whole bunch of Europeans, people form the Middle East and others from around the world gathered and we would write strategic policy papers for the Americans from a non-American perspective, which they could either agree or disagree with. They did this so they could get our perspective rather than just reacting from an American perspective all the time. This was really good work and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
We don’t do that here; listen to others perspective. I’ve always thought this was something that we should do here – have the nations of ASEAN and our region out here in some form of military organisation writing respectful but interesting points of view for our people to consider.
I’ve proposed this a few times but it never got up, and I’m out now so. And this is kind of what led to my take on this year’s Dawn Service Address.
Photo: NEWPORT, R.I. (Sept. 28, 2012) Royal Australian Navy Commodore Richard Menhinick, commandant of the Australian Command and Staff College, presents U.S. Naval War College (NWC) President Rear Adm. John Christenson, right, with an official gift containing sand from the Gallipoli battlefield. Menhinick was part of a team of faculty and students from the Australian Defence College participating in briefings and classes at the NWC. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Eric Dietrich/Released)
Photo: Lloyd Austin, the current Secretary of Defence, with Royal Australian Navy Commodore Richard Menhinick
All this knowledge you have accumulated on the Middle East and Australian National Policy you have shared through lectures at the Australian National University – how did that commence?
I’m not doing it now as I’ve moved up here to Pittwater. What happened was, bluntly speaking, 12 years ago I was unexpectedly diagnosed with chronic leukaemia, which floored me as I was feeling completely healthy – I went off to do a normal operation and they told me I had leukaemia.
I was physically well so the Navy still let me go to America but I couldn’t go out and do what I intended when I left the Navy after 40 years – I was always going to go and do something high powered when I left. I was 56, just, and thought I could do a Jim Molan thing in politics or work for a big company, but, with the leukaemia I didn’t want to as I didn’t want to get stressed, I needed to look after myself so as to delay its inset as best I could. So, I knew what I couldn’t do but I didn’t know what I wanted to do – there was a real transition issue.
Because I’d been working in the Middle East and the Central Asia area for 3 years at a senior level in the US Headquarters that ran everything there from a strategic and military perspective, and not many Australians had, and had this great wealth of experience from working with locals, the Australian National Security College were aware I was around and I started being invited in to do Guest Lectures. The were running Executive Courses and I’d do the Middle East. I’d come at it from a different perspective to the normal western approach.
I did that for a few years and still did a bit of maritime stuff. I then was asked to be a Tutor at ANU by Hugh White, and tutored his ‘Australian Security in the Asian Century’ Course. By then I was back doing a little too much Defence work and so couldn’t comment publicly as well as work in the Reserve work I was undertaking and so had to pull out of that role.
I then finished up on a Navy Reserve contract working on a major Review of joint ADF exercises and training for Australia – on how we train our forces, and then was asked to author a book on campaigning and competition for defence and then we moved up to here. I am still doing a couple of days work in Defence on the side but am now much more able to comment more widely and do other things.
A photograph taken at the Anzac Day Dawn Service this year is of you and your family which shows other members have served and serve Australia in our Defence Forces as well, along with your parents who both served during WWII - it seems to run in the blood. Where does it come from – why did you want to go into the RAN and serve your country Richard, what was the spark?
I think it was my father. Dad, as I said, did 20 years as a Radio Officer in the Merchant Navy. He did Atlantic Convoys for years, came out to the Pacific – he was actually on a ship that brought Australian POW’s back from Japan after World War Two. And, I was brought up around the sea; so the books I read as a kid were Hornblower, C S Forrester, all those books about the sea and being at sea.
I never really wanted to do anything else. In those days you could join at 15 and at the age of 15 I found myself in a career interview with the Naval College, and that was it, I was in. I never thought I’d stay in as long as I did but the great thing about the Navy is, you can say you do 40 or 45 years, or whatever, but there are new jobs every 2, 3 or 4 years. As long as you are working with good people, which you generally are, and the jobs are exciting and educational, and I had a very very supportive family luckily, I kind of just kept doing that. I always thought I’d get out at the 20 year mark or the 15 year mark but then suddenly 40 years had gone past and I was still in and still enjoying it.
Family photo taken after Anzac Day 2023 Dawn Service at Avalon Beach RSL Cenotaph
Do you go sailing or cruising now?
Yes; I’ve always mucked around sailing. We actually leased a sail-time boat when we were in America for 18 months, we leased a sailing yacht in 2018 when we were in the Greek islands and sailed those. What we have now is a classic wooden 11m 1954 Moreton Bay cruiser – Michelle and I are part owners with my two brothers-in-laws and my sisters and another great couple. We have her on a mooring in Pittwater and she’s a beauty – an old timber boat – which we putter vey happily around Pittwater in.
Your CV and Transition out of the Navy reads like a success story – was it so from your perspective, and specially as you are now serving as the President of Avalon Beach RSL Sub Branch? Do you have any experience you could share on how that could be made a more positive and optimised experience?
When I was transitioning in 2016 it was a little bit hit and miss. We are very bureaucratic in Australia and you had to do certain things within a certain time. So, the framework was set up so they don’t care whether you’ve spent 20, 30 or 40 years in the Defence services, they don’t really care if you’ve still got children at school, or there are other reasons why you can’t move house in the year you are leaving. They put in arbitrary time limits on entitlements.
When you get out of Defence you are entitled to a final removal. For some reason they put a 12-month time limit period on this. So, you could only take it within the first 12 months when I got out, I think it may be 2 years now. Even so, after then, you lose that entitlement.
It’s the same with doing training. So, if I decided I wanted to become a writer or an antique clock repairer I had to do that course in the first year.
When we first came back from America, and I had leukaemia, it took me a long time to work out what I wanted to do. By then I’d lost all the entitlement to the training and removals, so everything we’ve had to do we’ve done ourselves.
I think Canada is much better as they don’t have a time limit on it. A final entitlement is for an extended period, perhaps life there, until you use it.
My view, and I’ve written this, is if you have been in for an extended period, why is there a time limit? If it doesn’t suit you for schooling or your wife’s work or for medical reasons, why do you have 12 months to make a decision or you lose all entitlements?
It’s a very bureaucratic Australian approach and I think that has led to a lot of the issues the Royal Commission is discovering. I’ve written 3 submissions to the current Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, underlining that people don’t look at those 2nd and 3rd order of things happening in people’s lives.
Bluntly speaking I think we have too many organisations doing stuff. I’m a big fan of the RSL and the RSL Sub Branch, which is completely different to the RSL Club. We are a charity at the Sub Branch, we only exist to look after the welfare of veterans and their families.
There is a plethora of charities that have sprung up in Australia to do this. When you go onto the website of the Royal Commission there is about 15 different areas they tell you to go to. My view is there should be Legacy, the RSL, of NSW in our case, and one or two others and then everyone else should work through us.
One of the problems has recurred under all three Acts, and even I with all my knowledge and education gets confused by which Act I’m under, and therefore, things get lost between the Acts.
The other thing is of course that people love to blame the DVA, it’s an easy target. In actual fact, it’s the system that has systemic problems. The DVA is the only entity that is legislated by parliament. Politicians can change legislation at any time they see fit to make it a less adversarial system. At the moment it has to be a causation, not an association through the DVA. The other aspect is the Repatriation Medical Authority which is up in Brisbane, which is what writes the Statement of Principles. If there is a Statement of Principle for a disease or condition they are very narrowly written, they don’t always agree in my opinion with the best medical evidence, and I’ve written this to the Royal Commission.
In my case, with leukaemia, what they said caused it was completely different to what all the specialists in America said would have caused it. The DVA delegate who makes a decision goes by the SOP which is written by the Repatriation Medical Authority, which never gets looked at, and so everyone blames the DVA.
The DVA is working in a very legislated and difficult area. I’ve got a lot more time for the DVA because they do the best they can in a system that is not actually set up to do this. So, I hope the Royal Commission looks at that a bit more. Once you are in the system the DVA is fantastic – it’s not the DVA’s fault that there are issues; it’s the way the legalisation is written and the system works.
Our system is a very adversarial one and I think it needs to be more association based rather than just causal. The DVA wants to do the best by everyone – it’s how you make it a fairer and more equitable system without the confusing of legalisation.
I have a myriad of paper work from the DVA telling me to do this, do that, buy this, do that and most of it is due to the legalisation that has been written by the parliamentarians.
The Minister will say I’ve put on 500 extra delegates to deal with the backlog, whereas if their system wasn’t so confusing they wouldn’t need the 500 extra delegates, whose wages should go towards helping Veterans. You could halve the size of the DVA and the Repatriation Medical Authority if you said ‘everyone after serving 30 years has a Gold Card’ or something like that. Or, instead of age 70, or if someone has already jumped through 15 million hoops, they should get the help they clearly have applied for, over and over.
I don’t have a Gold Card. Everything I’ve done since I left Defence has been covered through my White Card, but I don’t have a Gold Card, wont probably get one unless I live to 70 and I’m still paying private health insurance. And you think, ‘I’ve done 40 years permanent Service, been in two wars and also done 7 years Reserve Service’. This isn’t a whinge, it’s just reality for most veterans that many in the public do not know about.
In America they have a completely different approach, which has its good and bad points. There if you have done 20 years you get medical for life, and for all your family as well. The problem with the American system is you get nothing under 20 years service; so it’s not a very good system either as people can get very damaged in 5 years or 2 years or even on their first deployment.
So my perspective is that there should be a more graduated approach – I mean, where does age 70 come from? This is not the fault of DVA – this is the legislated set up.
We are supported once you are through the complicated gates. The politicians will blame the DVA, the RSL will blame the DVA, but it’s actually the restrictive way the Statements of Principles are written by Repatriation Medical Authority and the legislation that the politicians have written that causes the issue, not so much the people in the DVA itself, who I have found on the whole to be very helpful and kind.
You are now the President of Avalon Beach RSL Sub Branch – why did you take on that role?
You have got to give back and I was always keen to do some charity work – and I’m still keen to help out with the Leukaemia Association as well. The Sub Branch is a charity and the more you get involved and realise what it does the more you appreciate what it gives to Veterans and the community. I was never one to go to RSLs prior to this. I became a member at Forestville RSL Club at 18 because my father was a member, and they had fantastic snooker tables – they still do. Me and my mates from school would go up there and play snooker. Then I dropped out at 22 or 23, dad passed away and I was away in Tasmania and other places, and the RSL wasn’t relevant to us because it was the Returned Services League. They then changed it to Returned and Services League and started to be more welcoming to non-WWI and WWI Veterans, including current Serving Defence members. Even so, I didn’t re-join until I moved back up here from Canberra.
Prior to joining I didn’t realise what a community-based organisation Sub Branches are. When you become part of a great community like Avalon Beach you want to pay back to that community, and look around for what you can do that helps out a bit. So, for me Avalon Sub Branch, which is very much for the community of Veterans that live here, and for those currently serving, and connecting to the community of Avalon itself, was a perfect fit – and… I couldn’t say no to Tamara.
No, no one can say ‘no’ to Tamara, she’s relentless.
Avalon Beach RSL Sub Branch also has a history or legacy of connections to the community and sharing information with the younger generations so they have an understanding of what Defence personnel do and have done. I knew Graham Sloper, he was Captain of Perth in 1985 and I was on board with him for about 6 weeks at that stage. He did a lot to revive the Branch.
In looking at our membership we have 40% women, which must be amongst the highest for any Sub Branch. Even so we have a RSL wide reality too where 60% of our Members are over 70 and I think we are among the youngest of Sub Branches across Australia, so there are challenges going forward. It’s all about making the Sub Branch a welcoming place for young serving Defence personal, young Veterans, and ensure it is a place where they have a great social connection as well as a place where they can get great support when they need it.
I didn’t think I needed support when I was in my 30’s and 40’s, but actually, my family did. We didn’t realise it because I was away the whole time – that’s just what you do – but they needed support, and to be able to access that in their community.
So, one of the things we’re trying to do through the Sub Branch is to get more serving people involved as it’s better for them and better for us too.
One of the great things about Anzac Day in Avalon Beach is the Community March. It’s not just a Veterans March, it’s a Community March; we lead it but we’re joined by all the schools and community sports groups and service organisations – you see all the parents watching proudly from the side and that’s what it is really about, community.
Anzac Day is about engaging the whole community, because the whole community is engaged in these operations in supporting the country, so I think what happens at Avalon is one instance of how we do this very well.
We’re fortunate that we have a little village there and the main street which makes it easier to do this. This is why Pittwater RSL joined us this year, which I think went well as well.
What are your favourite places in Pittwater and why?
Bangalley headland looking north across Lion Island towards Terrigal is a walk we did during the Covid lockdowns which became a favourite of ours. I could also talk about Pittwater and one of 15 million moorings you could sit on and just enjoy the breeze and watch the dawn and dusk – but sitting on the seats at North Avalon Beach is definitely my favourite among these. I take the dog down and we just sit there and watch the surfers. Having lived in Canberra for a long time, which I loved by the way (it’s a much better place than people realise and very nice to bring up a family in), it's great for a seaside person to get back to the other place they really love – the sea.
When my father died in 1983 they hadn’t begun upgrading Mona Vale Road or Wakehurst Parkway, and that view, as you came over the top from the Baha’i temple, when you get that first glimpse of the water, and then that whiff of salt air, even when we lived in Canberra that was it – that was ‘wow, we’re back home.’.
What is your ‘motto for life’ or a favourite phrase you try to live by?
Manly to win!
You can’t have that! We’ll put it in – but something else?
How fortunate we are to live in the country we do in the period we do. Being a democracy is something to be treasured – so be positive, be happy – and remember the best thing you can do in life is improve; improve yourself and improve this place for who comes next.
When you read the media or listen to the news there’s so much down news all the time about us, about ourselves, our country Australia – but I’ve travelled the world and lived in and worked and sailed into some pretty interesting places and I can tell you, you only really treasure and appreciate Australia when you come home after being away from here for a long time. We need to treasure Australia more – we need less negative media and social media and we need some positivity in public and political service to attract the best to do it.
To all young people, and older, I’d say; Australia is a great country – make it better.
Anzac Day 2023 Requiem Address At The Dawn Service At Avalon Beach RSL Cenotaph: By Commodore Richard Menhinick AM, CSC, RAN, (Retired), President Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch
Good morning everyone and welcome to the Avalon Beach RSL Dawn Service for ANZAC Day 2023. I commence this morning by acknowledging the Garigal people, the traditional custodians of the land in and around Pittwater and pay respects to their Elders, past, present and future.
My name is Richard Menhinick and I have the honour of being the President of the Avalon Beach RSL Sub Branch. I served some 40 years in the Royal Australian Navy and amongst other postings had the absolute privilege of Commanding the frigate HMAS ANZAC at the 90th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings in 2005.
I will never forget the view of ANZAC Cove from so close to the shore, just a few hundred yards off, literally as close as the surf line off Avalon beach. As day dawned we conducted our own commemorative service, looking at the land as our sailors and soldiers did in 1915. Dignitaries and other visitors were all gathered at ANZAC Cove for the official service, but we hundred or so sailors were the very few to witness that dawn from the sea, with the Nek and the vertical landscape behind ANZAC Cove that rises almost straight up, revealing itself as the sun rose. It is something that stays with you, forever.
In a similar fashion we gather this morning in the early dawn, with quiet reverence, perhaps for some or many of us with sadness at loss, we can reflect thankfulness for love, family and community. We pause, honour and contemplate especially this dawn the sacrifices of Australian, New Zealand and Allied sailors, soldiers, aircrew, merchant mariners and families who have served and in too many cases, have paid the ultimate sacrifice, for their loved ones, for their mates, for their country – for us.
Especially at this time with the recent discovery of the wreck of the Japanese merchant vessel Montevideo Maru, in the Luzon Strait off the Philippines after 81 years, the agony of loss and cruelty of war has been brought back into stark reality for the families and descendants of the 979 Australians who did in that tragic incident.
Since Federation, Australians have been called on many times to serve in operations, conflicts and wars. They have served in all theatres, on or under the seas, on land and in the air. This day, this dawn service, is intrinsically linked to the beach landing at Gallipoli in the early dawn of 25 April 1915.
The eight months of fighting on that tiny peninsula and at sea around it, has become a rallying symbol of courage, tenacity, loss and sacrifice. However, it is just a piece of the story, albeit an important piece of our nation’s story. Since then almost two million men and women have worn with pride the uniforms of the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Air Force and merchant navy in times of conflict and peace. Meanwhile women, men, children and families at home have banded together with resilience to mobilise industry, food production and to keep society running in some dire times.
The current state of the World means that sadly days such as this are perhaps more brooding or contemplative. All of us here today, young and old, are indeed fortunate to live in a democratic country where our government is decided at regular intervals via orderly queues of citizens, pieces of paper with names of candidates on them and a cardboard voting box with a pencil supplied; not by guns, secret police, government terror, dictatorial elites or single party systems and pervasive censorship.
The fact we can all enjoy a democracy sausage, a cake, a chat on voting days, is due in large part to the sacrifices of those who have gone before us, who have fought and defeated regimes who have sought to impose totalitarian yokes on us.
As we consider this day, this dawn, as we listen to the birds, as we look around us at this beautiful part of Australia, we cannot escape the fact that today Australia is at the centre of a dynamic, uncertain and perhaps even dangerous strategic environment. Our armed forces are deployed as I speak, to uphold international norms that until recently we took for granted, such as freedom of navigation of seas vital for our trade and that of our neighbours in accordance with United Nations conventions.
Unfortunately, there is increasing instability in the world and our region. There is erosion of international conventions and the rise of authoritarian powers, who threaten and seek to coerce us. Sadly, news is chockful daily with discussion about trade sanctions, cyberattacks, the actions of dictatorial leaders invading or threatening democracies such as Ukraine and Taiwan, to name but two. As a result, we, a liberal democracy that really wants to focus our funding on health, welfare and education, on ameliorating disabilities, on providing housing and feeding our people is forced to increase Defence budgets and acquire complex and expensive weapons and platforms.
As a democracy and as a victor in World War Two, Australia was present at the formation of the United Nations. The preamble to the Charter of the United Nations, forged out of the unthinkable horror of that conflict basically says it is up to all of us to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which has brought untold sorrow to mankind.
The Charter asks us to reaffirm our faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small. It establishes conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.
It is hard to find much fault with such entreaties or ideals.
Our focus today, at this Dawn Service, on this the most important commemorative day for Australians and New Zealanders, should be to uphold these principles to which our country is bound, to honour the sacrifice of so many that achieved this. We especially thank and remember those who so sadly have no grave but the cruel sea, no tombstone but a rusting hulk, those who fell on land, who are buried either here or in countless graves overseas and those who perished in the skies here and around the world.
We do this today by remaining strong and proud in this Commonwealth, in this democracy and above all united to never forget.
HMAS Anzac visited Albany, the ship's adopted city, from 8-11 March 2005, before leaving for a six-month global deployment. The ship departed Albany, the mustering point for the 1914 World War I convoys, and follow the route of the convoys on to Turkey. HMAS Anzac will anchor in Anzac Cove for the 90th Anniversary ANZAC Day commemorations.
HMAS Anzac took with her two five-inch cartridges, one filled with peace messages from the City of Albany, to be presented to the Mayor of Gallipoli. The other was, in turn, to be filled with peace messages from the Turks to be carried back to Australia onboard HMAS Anzac and presented to the City of Albany.
HMAS Anzac visited ports in Asia, Europe, the United Kingdom, and South Africa before returning to Australia later that year.
On 12 March 2005 the frigate HMAS ANZAC, (CAPT Richard Menhenick, CSC, RAN), departed Australia on a six month world cruise, (Operation Northern Trident). During the cruise the ship took part in the Gallipoli 90th Anniversary commemorations at ANZAC Cove, and also the Battle of Trafalgar 200th Anniversary and the Festival of the Sea celebrations in the United Kingdom.
The International Fleet Review held off the coast of Portsmouth. The Commanding Officer of HMAS ANZAC, Captain Richard Menhinick on the Starboard Bridewing of HMAS ANZAC with the Cruise Liner, Queen Elizabeth 2 in the background. Date: June 28, 2005. Photo: RAN
The International Fleet Review held off the coast of Portsmouth. Pictured is the Commanding Officer of HMAS ANZAC, Captain Richard Menhinck on the Starboard Bridewing of HMAS ANZAC with his wife Michelle. Date: June 28, 2005. Photo: RAN
Members from HMAS ANZAC and the Defence Staff of the Australian Embassy, Paris, attending 60th Anniversary Celebrations for VE Day. Pictured (L-R) at the Arc deTriomphe are Leading Seaman Electronics Technician Lee Yorwarth, Petty Officer Boatswain Billy Swann, the Commanding Officer of HMAS ANZAC, Captain Richard Menhinick, Major Edward Choice, Commander Simon O'Brien, Captain Wayne Haynes (Defence Attache Paris), Major James Allen, Squadron Leader Brady Cummins, Major Heath Pratt and Petty Officer Photographer Damian Pawlenko. Photo: RAN
The surname Menhinick was first found in Cornwall where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor of Mwnwynick.
Articles by: "Richard Menhinick" at: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/author/richard-menhinick/
Honours and awards
Member of the Order of Australia (AM) 26 January 2012
Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) 26 January 2000
Commendation for Distinguished Service
Australian Active Service Medal
Australian Service Medal
Defence Force Service Medal with 4 Rosette's for 35–39 years of service
Australian Defence Medal
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Meritorious Unit Citation with Federation Star: For HMAS Brisbane during the Gulf War
Commander Richard Temple MENHINICK
Award: Conspicuous Service Cross
Date Granted 26th of January, 2000
Citation: 'For outstanding achievement as the Deputy Director Surface Warfare Development at Australian Defence Force Headquarters.'
Commodore Richard Temple MENHINICK
Award: Member of the Order of Australia
Date Granted 26th of January, 2012
Citation: 'For exceptional service to the Royal Australian Navy as Director General Navy Transformation and Innovation and Commandant of the Australian Command and Staff College.'
Lieutenant Commander Richard Temple MENHINICK
Award: Commendation for Distinguished Service
Date Granted 4th of November, 1991
Citation: 'For distinguished service as Direction Officer in HMAS BRISBANE during the Gulf War.'
Announcement Event: Special List 1991 Honours List
Introduction to the RMA
In 1994 the Australian Government requested the Repatriation Commission, in consultation with veterans' organisations, to prepare legislation to reform the process of decision making about disease causation. The aim was to create a more equitable and consistent system of dealing with claims for disability pensions received from Australian veterans and their dependants. One of the outcomes of the legislative reform was the formation of the Repatriation Medical Authority (RMA) which is an independent statutory authority responsible to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs.
The RMA consists of a panel of five practitioners eminent in fields of medical science. Their role is to determine Statements of Principles (SOPs) for any disease, injury or death that could be related to military service, based on sound medical-scientific evidence. The SOPs state the factors which "must" or "must as a minimum" exist to cause a particular kind of disease, injury or death.
In carrying out its duties the RMA is bound by relevant sections of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986: PART XIA.
The SOPs are disallowable instruments which are tabled in both Houses of the Australian Parliament and they are binding on the various decision makers. The matters of fact relating to an individual veteran's case, including the nature of service and any connection between eligible service and the factors in the SOPs, are determined by the various decision makers. These decision makers include the delegates of the Repatriation Commission, the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission, the Veterans' Review Board and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
On this website you can access information about the RMA, its membership, processes and publications. The website includes a comprehensive sitemap in the footer and a search facility at the top of each page. The website is easy to access and view from smart phones and tablets. Copies of all SOPs produced by the RMA since 1994 and information about investigations and reviews can also be found. The site features significantly improved capacity to search and find Statements of Principles (SOPs) - and other information. You can search by SOP number, year, the name of the condition or ICD code, and now hundreds of commonly used names of medical conditions can be entered in the search field to identify the applicable SOP. All information relating to a condition (the current SOPs, past SOPs, historical documents such as declarations or reasons for decision, and the most recent Explanatory Statements tabled in Parliament) are now available together in a single page relating to each condition. A range of common questions raised by stakeholders can be found on the FAQs page.
Requests for the RMA to undertake an investigation or review or review of the contents of an existing SOP or make a submission in relation to an existing review, can be lodged online, with the capacity to upload supporting documentation and print a copy of the completed request for your records. If you have any questions, please contact us. Retrieved from: http://www.rma.gov.au/
Information provided on this website is prepared by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) for general information only and does not provide professional advice on a particular matter. This information reflects policy made by DVA and is used in the assessment of claims. It does not reflect the views or opinions of any other government body or authority.
While we make every effort to ensure that the information on this site is accurate and up to date we accept no responsibility whether expressed or implied for the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information.
Before relying on the material you should independently check its relevance for your purposes, and obtain any appropriate professional advice.
For reasons of succinctness and presentation, the information provided on this website may be in the form of summaries and generalisations, and may omit detail that could be significant in a particular context, or to particular persons.
Important legislative change
Note that the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA) commenced on 12 October 2017.
As a result of this legislative change, the Department is updating its published information, including hardcopy and website content, as well as CLIK. While this process is well underway, it will take some time before all changes are complete. In the meantime, references within CLIK to the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 or SRCA should now generally be understood to be references to the new DRCA (with the exception of intended historical references to SRCA). It is important to note that the same provision references (i.e., sections, subsections and paragraphs) from the SRCA have been retained in the DRCA.
We appreciate your patience during this change process.
Causal relationship of injury or disease to service
For a claim in respect of a death, disease or injury to be accepted, the death, disease or injury needs to be causally related to the veteran's or member's VEA service. Service does not have to be the only cause however, provided that the person's service contributed to a material degree.
Service contributed to or aggravated a pre-existing condition
A pre-existing injury or disease may be accepted as defence-caused on the grounds that defence service or peacekeeping service materially contributed to, or aggravated the disease or injury. The injury or disease must be made worse permanently not just temporarily. It is likely that eligible service has aggravated the condition if:
- the member sustains further injury during eligible service such that surgical intervention is required, and/or
- the person is discharged medically unfit for further service.
Occurrences of injury, disease or death that may be covered under the VEA
The VEA provides for compensation for injury, disease or death if it is linked to the veteran or member's service. These provisions also cover, in certain situations, injury, disease or death that occurs due to:
- participation in sport,
- travelling to and from duty,
- domestic activities or incidents in live-in accommodation,
- medical treatment,
- attendance at social occasions.
Serious default, breach of discipline or wilful act
The Commonwealth is not liable in respect of the death, injury or disease where it:
- resulted from the member's serious default or wilful act during or after eligible defence service, or
- arose from a serious breach of discipline committed by the member, or while the member was committing a serious breach of discipline.
Retrieved from https://clik.dva.gov.au/compensation-and-support-policy-library/part-4-disability-compensation-eligibility/44-causal-connection-injury-or-disease-service/441-overview-causal-connection-injury-or-disease-service
Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide
Submissions close Closes 13 Oct 2023: - https://submissions.defenceveteransuicide.royalcommission.gov.au/general/submissions/
DVA claims processing among urgent recommendations in Royal Commission interim report
11 August 2022
The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide has made 13 urgent recommendations in its interim report, which was handed to the Governor-General, David Hurley, and tabled in Parliament in Canberra today.
The Commission Chair Nick Kaldas said suicide in the veteran community was a national tragedy that required immediate action.
"We acknowledge every serving and ex-serving member who has died by suicide – each life lived and each life left behind," Commissioner Kaldas said. "We also recognise those serving or former ADF members who have experienced suicidality."
Key recommendations include:
- Clearing the backlog of Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) claims
- Simplifying and harmonising complex and confusing veteran compensation and rehabilitation laws
- Increasing legal protections for serving and ex-serving ADF members to engage with the Royal Commission
- The exemption of the Royal Commission from parliamentary privilege, to make it easier for the inquiry to hold Defence and DVA to account
- For Defence and DVA to improve access for serving and ex-serving members (and their families) to their service information, including medical records
Commissioner Kaldas said one of the most pressing issues was the unacceptable backlog of DVA claims – almost 42,000, as at the end of May this year – that were still awaiting processing.
"We know that the long wait to receive entitlements can have a terrible effect on veterans' mental health and in some cases leads to suicide and suicidality," he said.
"Behind each claim is a veteran who needs support, and it is gravely important that this assistance is provided as quickly as possible – lives and livelihoods depend on it."
The Commission has recommended DVA be given until 31 March 2024 to eliminate the backlog of claims and that the Australian Government provide the necessary resources to ensure this occurs.
Accountability – permanent body
The Australian Government has formally responded to fewer than half of the 57 previous inquiries or reports submitted to it in relation to matters that relate to Defence and veteran suicide.
The Commission is considering what should follow this Royal Commission, including the need for a permanent body to report on the progress and quality of the implementation of recommendations from this Royal Commission and previous inquiries.
Further work – including public consultation – will be carried out in 2023 so that such a body can be in place by mid-2024 when this Royal Commission delivers its final report and recommendations.
Other areas of focus for the remainder of the inquiry include suicide prevention and wellbeing, the role and support of families, ADF culture and transition to civilian life.
Separate issues not detailed in this interim report may be included in any special reports or recommendations produced before the Commission concludes in 2024.
Commission Chair Nick Kaldas said the welfare of current and former serving members – and the memory of those who had died by suicide – is foremost in Commissioners' minds.
"We will continue to listen, consult and learn. We want to ensure this Royal Commission's legacy is a vast improvement in the welfare of serving and ex-serving members of the ADF and their families," Commissioner Kaldas said.
The Royal Commission will continue to review each submission received and consider the evidence and information gathered from hearings, roundtables, private sessions, internal and commissioned research.
"We want all current and former Defence personnel to go on to live long, happy and meaningful lives," Commissioner Kaldas said.
The Commission was established in July 2021 to help reduce the devastating toll of suicide among current and former members of the ADF.
Interim report can be downloaded at (webpage updated April 4, 2023): defenceveteransuicide.royalcommission.gov.au/publications/royal-commission-defence-and-veteran-suicide-interim-report
Sir James Plimsoll, AC, CBE (25 April 1917 – 8 May 1987) was an Australian diplomat and public servant. He served variously as Permanent Representative to the United Nations (1959–1963), High Commissioner to India (1963–1965), Secretary of the Department of External Affairs (1965–1970), Ambassador to the United States (1970–1973), Ambassador to the Soviet Union (1974–1977), Ambassador to Belgium and the European Economic Community (1977–1980), High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (1980–1981), Ambassador to Japan (1981–1982), and Governor of Tasmania (1982–1987).
Plimsoll was born in Sydney, New South Wales, and educated at Sydney Boys High School from 1929 to 1933. He graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Economics in 1938 and a Bachelor of Arts in 1941. He was then appointed to the Bank of New South Wales as an economist.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, Plimsoll enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force in 1942. During the war he was attached to the Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs. In 1945 he was a member of the Australian delegation to the Far Eastern Commission, established to oversee the Allied Council for Japan, which was responsible for the occupation of Japan. At the end of the war, he was on the staff of the Australian School of Pacific Administration, then with the rank of major. He was appointed a First Secretary of the Department of External Affairs in 1948.
HMAS Warramunga (II) is the third of eight Anzac Class frigates built by Tenix Defence Systems at Williamstown, Victoria for the Royal Australian Navy. The design is based on the German Meko 200 frigate.
Warramunga is a long-range frigate capable of air defence, surface and undersea warfare, surveillance, reconnaissance and interdiction. Warramunga's combat capabilities have been significantly improved under the Anti-Ship Missile Defence upgrade program, a world class program that provides an enhanced sensor and weapons systems capability. The upgrade showcases Australian design and integration capability, with new Phased Array Radar technology designed by CEA Technologies in Canberra, upgrades to combat systems performed by Saab Systems in South Australia, and platform integration design by BAE Systems in Victoria.
Laid Down 26 July 1997
Launched 23 May 1998
Commissioned 31 March 2001
The Warramunga name is derived from the Warramunga (also spelt Warumungu) Aboriginal people from the Tennant Creek area and the ship's badge depicts a fearsome Warumungu tribesman about to throw a boomerang. The blue and yellow background represents the sky and a desert hillside.
The motto "Courage in Difficulties" honours the Warumungu tribe's life of courage in their harsh environment as well as the Second World War Tribal Class Destroyer, HMAS Warramunga (I).
HMAS Warramunga is the third Anzac class frigate to complete the Anzac Mid-Life Capability Assurance Program (AMCAP) upgrade at the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson, Western Australia.
The upgrade was performed by the Warship Asset Management Agreement (WAMA) Alliance and included the replacement of the Long Range Air search radar, IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe) and secondary surveillance radar capabilities. Anzac also underwent a platform systems obsolescence program to improve platform reliability and maintainability. Work was also performed to improve the ship’s habitability for the crew as well as an upgrade to the ship’s communications systems to resolve a number of obsolescence issues.
HMAS Warramunga returned to her home port of Fleet Base West and will conduct post-AMCAP sea trails, work-ups and testing the new equipment on-board.
HMAS Warramunga arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for RIMPAC 2016.
Lloyd James Austin III (born August 8, 1953) is a retired United States Army four-star general who has served as the 28th United States secretary of defence since January 22, 2021. He is the first African American to serve in this role. Austin previously served as the 12th commander of United States Central Command (CENTCOM) from 2013 to 2016.
Austin was the 33rd vice chief of staff of the Army from January 2012 to March 2013, and the last commanding general of United States Forces – Iraq Operation New Dawn, which ended in December 2011. In 2013, Austin was appointed as the first Black commander of CENTCOM by President Barack Obama. He retired from the armed services in 2016 and joined the boards of Raytheon Technologies, Nucor, Tenet Healthcare, and Auburn University. On December 7, 2020, he was nominated for defence secretary by then-President-elect Joe Biden. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 22, 2021, by a vote of 93–2.
Emeritus Professor Hugh White AO is Professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University. Hugh's work focuses primarily on Australian strategic and defence policy, Asia-Pacific security issues, and global strategic affairs especially as they influence Australia and the Asia-Pacific.
He has been an intelligence analyst, journalist, ministerial adviser, departmental official, think tanker and academic. In the 1990s he served as International Relations Adviser to Prime Minister Bob Hawke and as Deputy Secretary of Defence for Strategy and Intelligence. Hugh was the principal author of Australia's 2000 Defence White Paper. He was the first Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).
His recent publications include Power Shift: Australia's Future between Washington and Beijing and The China Choice: Why America should share power. The China Choice has also been published in Chinese and Japanese.
James Norman Mattis (born September 8, 1950) is a retired United States Marine Corps four-star general who served as the 26th US secretary of defense from 2017 to 2019. During his 44 years in the Marine Corps, he commanded forces in the Persian Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.
Mattis was commissioned in the Marine Corps through the Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps after graduating from Central Washington University. A career Marine, he gained a reputation among his peers for intellectualism and eventually advanced to the rank of general. From 2007 to 2010, he commanded the United States Joint Forces Command and concurrently served as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. He was commander of United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013, with Admiral Bob Harward serving as his deputy commander. After retiring from the military, he served in several private sector roles, including as a board member of Theranos.
Lieutenant Arno Tielens receives the Queen's Gold Medal for Trainee Officer of the Year 2004 from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Also pictured is the Commanding Officer of HMAS ANZAC, Captain Richard Menhinick (centre), the Australian Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Chris Ritchie and his wife Julia. Photo; RAN
The Australian Rugby Union side, the Wallabies visit HMAS ANZAC while alongside in Simon's Town, South Africa. The side was split into groups and taken on a tour of the ship. Pictured is the Commanding Officer of HMAS ANZAC, Captain Richard Menhinick showing the coach of the Wallabies side, Eddie Jones the Operations Room. Photographer: Petty Officer Damian Pawlenko, July 2005. Photo: RAN
The 2005 Tri Nations Series, an annual rugby union competition between the national teams of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, was the tenth in the series. The competition is organised by SANZAR, a consortium of the three countries' rugby federations. This was the last year in which the Tri Nations was contested in its original double round-robin format, with each team playing the others twice.
South African Senior Naval Officers visit HMAS ANZAC for a luncheon and a tour while alongside in Simonstown, Sth. Africa. The host is the Commanding Officer of HMAS ANZAC, Captain Richard Menhinick.
Pictured is a group photograph on the Forecastle of HMAS ANZAC with Captain Richard Mehinick (4th left), Rear Admiral Hennie Bester, Flag Officer Fleet (centre), Rear Admiral Rabe (7th right), Rear Admiral Kamerman (6th right), His Excellency, the Australian High Commissioner Mr Phillip Green (centre left), the Executive Officer Lieutenant Commander David Mann (right), Chaplain Murray Lund (2nd right), Commander Simon O'Brien (3rd right) and other members of the South African Navy. Photographer: Petty Officer Damian Pawlenko. Photo; RAN
Australians take command in the pirate zone
by Australian Navy
December 8th 2009
If you're intending to sail the Gulf of Aden pirate zone anytime soon, it just might be an Australian voice you hear on the HF or satphone when you report that you have been captured by the Somalis.
A team of 25 Royal Australian Navy officers and sailors will depart this week for the Middle East to form the command group of a Coalition Naval Task Force engaged in maritime security operations throughout the region.
Combined Task Force 150 conducts counter terrorism and maritime security operations in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and the Gulf of Oman.
As Commander of the Task Force, Commodore Richard Menhinick will have tactical control of Coalition ships and aircraft from many nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Iraq, Pakistan, Germany and Australia's HMAS Stuart.
Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Mark Evans says it is the first time an Australian Officer has been assigned to this coalition command position - one of the most senior naval appointments in the Middle East Area of Operations.
'Commodore Menhinick and his team will be responsible for a combined crew of up to 1600 personnel; it is a very important role and a great endorsement for the professionalism of the Royal Australian Navy,' Lieutenant General Evans said.
'I would like to especially thank the families and friends of these personnel for their ongoing support and wish those deploying continued success and safety.'
Commodore Menhinick says he is confident his team is prepared for their mission.
'I am fortunate and privileged to lead such a capable and experienced team. We will meet all challenges directly and professionally and build upon the outstanding reputation of the Australian Defence Force in the international community,' Commodore Menhinick said.
'Our mission will be to sustain maritime security in the region, which includes deterring and countering terrorist movements at sea, to keep the seas open and safe for international shipping.'
'It is with mixed emotions we say goodbye to our families and friends, thanking them for their understanding and support, while looking forward to being in such an important leadership role,' Commodore Menhinick said.
Photo: Commander Combined Task Force 150, Commodore Richard Menhinick, CSC, RAN is greeted at Sydney International Airport by his daughter Charlotte, after returning from the Middle Eastern Area of Operation with Combined Task Force 150. After more than four months in command of Coalition Navy assets in the Middle East, Commander Combined Task Force 150 (CTF150), Commodore Richard Menhinick, CSC, RAN, and his 22 personnel Command Group were welcomed home by family and friends today. Three of his personnel have remained in theatre for varying additional lengths of time continuing the vital work. Representing the Commander Australian Fleet, Commodore Stephen McDowall, DSM, CSM, RAN, congratulated the group on their integral contribution in supporting global efforts to curb terrorist activities and funding. CTF150 conducts Maritime Security Operations southeast of the Strait of Hormuz, in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. Since 2004, 24 nations have operated as part of this Coalition. Photo: RAN
Captain defied order on boat
By Daniel Flitton
Ran July 12, 2012 – Sydney Morning Herald report
TONY Abbott's pledge to turn boats back to Indonesia depends on the compliance of navy commanders - one of whom is celebrated in a navy publication for defying such orders in the Howard years.
A special training manual on leadership ethics for the Royal Australian Navy tells the harrowing tale of a commander's decision ''without authority'' to take people on board.
The manual, intended to spark discussion about the ''ethical obligations of professional service'', highlights the difficulties the Opposition Leader's pledge to block asylum seekers coming to Australia will encounter on the high seas.
It includes a case study on a 2001 episode when the warship HMAS Warramunga struggled with a boat carrying more than 150 asylum seekers, including about 50 children, over two days near the remote Ashmore Reef.
The drama included a riot among the passengers after attempts to turn the boat around, forcing the navy boarding party to flee - only to eventually intervene and rescue the passengers as ''the only way to avert disaster'' despite silence from commanders on shore.
The events in 2001 played out in the charged political atmosphere that followed the stand-off with the Norwegian container ship MV Tampa.
Commodore Richard Menhinick, then captain of Warramunga, backed his decision to take the people aboard in the 2010 navy manual titled Leadership Ethic, labelling it as one of conscience.
''We need the courage to make decisions which will likely have very significant consequences,'' Commodore Menhinick wrote. ''The only certain thing is the importance of acting with integrity and in good conscience. I think our nation, our people, and our senior leaders expect this.''
In 2001, Warramunga, then a new Anzac-class frigate, was under orders to board boats and set them on a return course to Indonesia. On September 9 that year, Commodore Menhinick wrote, Warramunga had ''tracked covertly'' the asylum seeker boat dubbed ''suspected illegal entry vessel three'', or SIEV 3, as it headed to Ashmore Reef, about 150 kilometres south of Indonesia.
The boat was boarded soon after entering the contiguous zone, the 12 nautical mile stretch of ocean just outside Australia's territorial waters, and steered back to Indonesia.
''Warramunga was unsurprised to observe the SIEV appeared lost. This opinion was underlined by the facts that during the boarding no navigation equipment had been observed, and the crew had appeared clearly to be inexperienced and untrained.'' It also carried no lifejackets.
The navy ship then passed to the boat a chart showing where Indonesia lay, but the asylum seekers steered to Ashmore Reef.
When sailors from Warramunga again took control of the boat ''predictably, a riot erupted as SIEV 3 turned north'' and the boarding party was evacuated. The boat then tried for Ashmore Reef from the south, despite warnings about treacherous reefs.
''Sensing imminent tragedy, and without authority [commanding officer] Warramunga offered to take the illegal immigrants on board - if and only if they would stop,'' Commodore Menhinick wrote.
He was eventually directed by shore command to take only half the asylum seekers on board, but did not see this as ''sensible or ethically prudent'' and took everyone.
''By this course of action, a humanitarian catastrophe was avoided by only six cables [just over a kilometre]. Around 100 adults and 50 children were safe. The entire incident had lasted 54 hours.
''Reflecting upon this incident I recall a 'whole crew' effort … the entire team saved these lives and they should be justly proud of their efforts.''
Abridged version - available in full and retrieved From: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/captain-defied-order-on-boat-20120711-21wda.html
International Day of UN Peacekeepers - 75 years of UN peacekeeping
May 28 2023
Tomorrow, on the International Day of United Nations (UN) Peacekeepers, Australians are encouraged to recognise those who have contributed to global peacekeeping efforts.
May 29th 2023 also marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO).
UNTSO was the first UN peace mission and is unique. It serves regionally in five countries in the Middle East and Africa – from Egypt to Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
UNTSO’s role is to monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating, and assist other UN peacekeeping operations in the region.
Australia has contributed hundreds of military observers to UNTSO since 1956, under the designation of Operation PALADIN.
Chief of Joint Operations for the Australian Defence Force, Lieutenant General Greg Bilton, AO, CSC, said the Australian Defence Force had made a significant contribution to worldwide peacekeeping operations.
“The Australia Defence Force has a long and proud history of supporting peacekeeping missions across the globe,” Lieutenant General Bilton said.
“The International Day of UN Peacekeepers and 75th Anniversary of UNTSO provides us the opportunity to recognise the dedicated service our ADF personnel.
“We currently have 26 Australian Defence Force personnel deployed in Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and South Sudan serving in UN peacekeeping missions. I thank them for their professionalism and valuable contribution.
“It is important to also honour the 17 Australians who deployed with the Australian Defence Force or Australian Federal Police who tragically lost their lives in UN or non-UN peacekeeping operations.”
More information on the range of operations currently supported by the ADF, including Operation PALADIN, is available at Operations | Defence