October 15 - 21, 2017: Issue 333

Soldier On Launches Side By Side

Soldier On Launches Side By Side

“I firmly believe that we best honour the diggers of 1917, by supporting the servicemen and women, the veterans and their families of 2017.” – The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia, October 10th, 2017

In recent years we’ve run a little about the great days sailing the RPAYC has offered to people in conjunction with and through Soldier On NSW. Another of these will be hosted by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club on October 22nd.

The Family Sailing Day is open to serving and ex-serving veterans who have been impacted by their service and their families. 

On the day, all be transported by a variety of yachts and boats, catering for all sizes and abilities to Portuguese Beach on Pittwater. 

From there, games for ages will occur on the beach, and for those that wish, you will be able to Sail under the guidance of qualified instructor’s/coaches and enjoy being out on the water. The Club will also put on a BBQ on the Beach for lunch. 

This is another great opportunity for you to meet new people from the community, try something new, and have a great day out with your loved ones.

For participants with limited mobility such as leg injuries, please let Soldier on NSW know, so they can inform the Club, and we can ensure that you are looked after on the day.

If you are interested, please register at please email nsw@soldieron.org.au and let them know how many are attending, and how old your children are.

Earlier this year the inaugural Pollie Pedal finished in Manly. The 2017 Pollie Pedal started in the regional town of Albury travelling through Wagga Wagga, Talbingo, Cooma, Canberra, Goulburn, Mittagong, Camden before reaching Manly. The proceeds raised went towards developing Soldier On’s facilities in New South Wales.

Jason Falinski, Federal MP For Mackellar, Andrew Wallace, Federal  MP for Fisher and James Griffin, NSW MP for Manly at this year's Pollie Pedal finish in Manly organised and supported by Mr. Abbott for Soldier On

Soldier On is focused on helping veterans and their families overcome any impacts from their service, re-adjust to normal life and build successful, happy futures. They provide a range of free support services including mental health support, education and employment support, and social inclusion activities and programs. These services reduce the rate and impact of veteran unemployment, homelessness, mental health conditions, family relationship breakdowns and suicide.

This November Soldier On is asking Australian community organisations, industry and individuals to host a BBQ to raise much needed funds. If anyone would like to host a BBQ fundraiser in November for Soldier On they can ask for a BBQ pack via fundraise@soldieron.org.au or find out more here 

You can also fundraise for Soldier On by electing to fundraise for them when participating in any of the many marathons run state and nation wide.

For any other enquiries regarding Soldier On or their services or to volunteer please email your State Soldier On, details on the Soldier On  website (At: https://soldieron.org.au/or email info@soldieron.org.au

Earlier this week, on World Mental Health Day, Soldier On announced its #sidebyside services expansion at Soldier On HQ, Canberra.  Through this expansion, Soldier On is demonstrating it stands with those who put themselves on the line to protect Australia, helping them to secure their futures – just as they serve side by side to protect Australia.

At the launch of #sidebyside they were joined by the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minster of Australia, along with Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin, APM, OAM, Minster for Defence, the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Veterans Affairs, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, as well as over a hundred supporters, community members, veterans, service personnel, and their families who listened to former Australian Federal Policeman and Soldier On Ambassador, David Savage, share the story of how Soldier On assisted him. 

The announcement:

Soldier On Expansion Announcement – #SideBySide
Today, on World Mental Health Day, Soldier On announced its #sidebyside services expansion.  Through this expansion, Soldier On is demonstrating it stands with those who put themselves on the line to protect Australia, helping them to secure their futures – just as they serve side by side to protect Australia.

Securing and protecting Australia in complex environments, domestically and globally, requires integrated multiagency and multidisciplinary teams of serving men and women from across the national security agency to work side by side.

On operations, onshore and offshore, Australian Defence Force and National Security Personnel support one another, side by side.  At home, this should not be any different.

Primarily recognised as a veteran support organisation, Soldier On has consistently supported other serving men and women who have been impacted by their side by side service with the ADF. This has included current and former staff from Departments of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Immigration, Attorney-Generals and Defence and agencies such as the Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force.

As we have grown in our understanding of the impacts of service on individuals and families we have also developed a deep appreciation of the sense of isolation and alienation non ADF serving men and women and their families can experience when they are impacted by service.

Drawing on the growing body of international evidence around the importance of connection, community and collaboration, we have seen the positive benefits individuals and families from non ADF backgrounds experience when they are able to access services, support and connection alongside those they served side by side with.

It is with this understanding, Soldier On today publicly announces its #sidebyside services expansion.

Five years ago, I was wounded overseas working side by side with Australia’s military and when I returned to Australia I was welcomed by Soldier On who assisted me and my family.

I would encourage others from both the military and those who have worked side by side with the ADF to come forward and engage with Soldier On and take advantage of the services and mateship that they offer and to help you in your future and your transition to civilian life.”    David Savage, Former AFP Officer, Soldier On Ambassador

To coincide with the launch of #sidebyside services, the unveiling of a refreshed Soldier On brand which highlights the organisation’s commitment to connection, creating positive forward momentum and continuous growth. The chevrons represent each stage of an individual’s journey, of working towards and becoming stronger as they move through different life phases and events.

If it wasn’t for those half-hour coffee catch-ups, I wouldn’t have bothered with society at all. Each catch-up felt like a stepping stone, from the swamp that I had been in, towards higher ground “ NSW participant

Each of these chevrons represents the stepping stones, the path to better mental health, social connection and employment and education opportunities. 

Finally, each chevron represents a focus of Soldier On’s mission statement – physical and mental health, family, community, and future. These individual parts come together to form the stepping stones – the path – to help those who put themselves online to protect Australia, and their families secure their futures. 

The announcements were part of an event to launch SideBySide which included Addresses by David Savage, Australia’s first civilian casualty of the Afghanistan War, Soldier On Chairman Peter Leahy and Australia’s Prime Minister, The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull. The launch event was emceed by Hugh Riminton.

Soldier On Chairman Peter Leahy’s Address

Soldier On has come a long way since we launched across the lake in a tent on the grounds of the burnt our Canberra Services Club in early 2012. Since that day, we have not only supported thousands of veterans and their families, we have advocated on their behalf to several Governments and have seen positive change in the support offered to them. We have educated and guided the wider community in understanding their responsibility and the opportunity they have to support those who have done so much for all of us. We are proud that we now work side by side with the Defence Force 

We are after all, a response of the community, through a call to action. Soldier On exists, because Australia cares deeply about those who have and continue to serve it and their families.

Although we have all done so much, we cannot become complacent. There is still so much more to do. Soldier On is proud of our innovative culture. A culture that is guided by the veterans and families that we support. With innovation comes change and ongoing development. We must always strive to do better and this is always at the forefront of all staff at Soldier On.

The next phase of the organisation will build on the practical, preventative programs and services that we have become known for. We believe that early intervention is key. That support upstream will help build a resilient, connected and confident service community and in turn, keep people alive.

Our employment program that launched late last year, has proven very popular. While it provides a range of services, at its core it connects veterans and their spouses with companies that value their skills and attributes. Our new website which has gone live today has over 400 jobs available for those who have served, we thanks those 48 companies who have signed the Soldier On Pledge to support veteran and spouse employment. Just some of these companies include, KPMG, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, BAE, Accenture, Cubic Defence Australia, DXC, Good Guys, Medibank (Garrison Health), Caltex, PWC, Westpac, Virgin Australia, Pfizer and Amazon Australia. 

As I have said many times before though, employing veterans is not charity. It is good business. To all of you in the room who have signed the Pledge, thank you. You are helping us change the narrative. You are helping us show the veteran community that they are skilled, that they are sort after and that there are successful futures after service. 

Together, we are supporting veterans and their families to thrive, not just survive. This must remain a priority for all as it is changing the public perception that veterans are ‘broken’. Soldier On does not want to be a part of this narrative, we want to prevent it. For those who serve to protect our way of life we need to smash the stigma of reaching out for mental health support. 

Over the past five years though, we have realised that the more protective factors that are in place, the more positive life can become after service. These factors include practical elements such as a good job, good network, strong family life and a vocation that continues to allow service in our community. Not every veteran is wounded, injured or ill. But every one of them needs these protective factors to live the best lives they can. We want all who have served, and their families, to thrive throughout all times of life. 

We have and always will want today’s society to appreciate veterans and some of the complexities that come with service, but we don’t want this appreciation to be misplaced. We want to break the ‘victim’ or ‘broken’ image that has become such a strong narrative of service, particularly over the past 18 months. 

We have also recognised, since the very start of the organisation that Soldier On should support those who secure our national security with the Australian Defence Force and who work side by side to ensure we can enjoy the freedoms we often take for granted. 

Today as Chairman I am happy to announce that Soldier On is now publicly recognising these men and women who make up the National security community; the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and our intelligence agencies all have unique stressors that can affect their lives. 

Therefore, on world mental health day we are so happy to have the Prime Minister and many of his parliamentary colleagues here along with secretaries, service chiefs and secretaries of each of the departments that we have been since we started, but now are publically supporting. We thank you for entrusting Soldier On, and by extension the community with the opportunity to work side by side with you, your departments and your people to ensure, all can give the very best futures to those who do so much for us. 

Prime Minister of Australia’s Address at Soldier On World Mental Health Day 2017

Thanks Hugh and thank you Peter for that fine address. It’s wonderful to be here, as you said, with my Parliamentary colleagues Marise Payne, the Minister for Defence and Dan Tehan the Minister for Veterans Affairs and the Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, the Commissioner, the Australian Federal Police Andrew Colvin and the Chief of the ACT Police, Justine Saunders.

And of course, so many other leaders of our defence force, our veterans, leaders of our national security agencies, all of you who tirelessly everyday keep us safe. Some of you in uniform, the ADF in uniform, AFP often but not always in uniform when overseas. But all of you keeping us safe.
And as Peter said we owe it to you, to give you every support to ensure that when you return from service or even when you’re in service you have the support to enable you to do your job and lead your lives to the fullest, during and after your service.

So it is great to be here on World Mental Health Day with Solider On here with its CEO and founder John Bale. John, congratulations, the great work that you and your family have done in setting up Solider On since 2012 is remarkable, and the Robert Poates Centre is a great example of that.

Now, from the beach at Gallipoli to the front line against Da’esh in the Middle East today, our defence forces have always served Australia with courage, honour and great skill.

It’s dangerous work, defending our freedom and our safety putting their lives on the line and Australia is proud, immensely proud of all our men and women in uniform. We owe them a debt we can never repay and nor do we ever really understand the cost of that service; a cost that can endure long after the service ends.

We know them as heroes, but we know them also as mothers and fathers, boyfriends, girlfriends sons and daughters, mates.

The lives they put on the line are connected to all of ours, hopes, dreams and futures—the friends that wait for them, the families that pray for their safe return.

And sometimes, coming home can be among the toughest challenges these brave men and women face.

I’ve come to know a bit about that challenge through our own family.
Our son-in-law James served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and through him, I’ve met many of his generation of ex-servicemen and women – including John.
Sitting around a table with them at the North Bondi RSL, I began to understand more of what it’s like to come back and build a post-service life.

In meeting John and learning about Soldier On and meeting so many of your contemporaries, the veterans in their 20s and 30s and 40s, today’s veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, you recognised that we had to do a lot more, both in supporting veterans with PTSD with other challenges, ensuring that they were able to be restored to health, but also ensuring that they got great jobs.

The veterans employment initiative which we set up, and which Dan’s doing a great job in leading and which is ensuring that more Australian businesses recognise the value and the importance of employing veterans - and I have to say it’s been really enthusiastically embraced by the business sector.

There’s a lot of good things about being Prime Minister, one of the good things is you’ve got great convening power or a big megaphone, so when you decide to put something on the agenda often you can succeed and we’ve had a great response there. That came out of another meeting at the North Bondi RSL, John and it was really a great tribute to the leadership of you and your generation of veterans that we’re achieving so much more.

From helping 200 veterans in its first year to 500 each month in its third, Soldier On is now reaching thousands of veterans and their families each year, helping them stay connected, find new opportunities through education and employment, and get the psychological and emotional support they need.

The success has led to an expansion of services right around the country—with centres now in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth as well as Albury, Newcastle and Currumbin.

And it’s led, as Peter’s just announced, to expanding your reach to those who serve ‘side by side’ with our defence forces: our federal police and border force, our diplomats, intelligence and security services – all of them are dedicated tirelessly, as is your government, to keeping Australians safe.

I want to acknowledge today, the extraordinary service both in the field and subsequently in looking after veterans from all of these agencies, through his own example and the commitment of him and his wife, David Savage and his wife Sandra, let’s give them a round of applause.

David as you can see here, was seriously wounded in Afghanistan serving side by side with ADF there. He has been part of the Solider On organisation, and John I think this expansion, which is an expansion of the practical love you show, has been driven, inspired by David and Sandra and they have done an outstanding job. David put his life at risk to keep us safe, and he deserves, as do so many others like him, our support, our acknowledgement, our love.

Now whether it’s a session with a psychologist, help to get a job or a degree, or just a coffee with a mate, the connections that Soldier On offers, matter enormously to the health and wellbeing of our ex-servicemen and women.

We’ve understood the physical scars of battle for a long time, but we now have a deeper understanding of the scars we can’t see.

My grandfather Fred Turnbull, was an infantryman, a private, in the First World War on the Western Front.
We talked about many things —fishing and carpentry, politics and poetry—but he never talked to me about his wartime experiences. In all of the hours I spent with him, I can’t recall any description or account of the horrors that he faced in the First World War.

A lot of his generation came back and never spoke of what they’d seen. They had seen unspeakable things. But at the time, we didn’t have the insight or the science to explain those mental wounds or help them and now we do.

Most importantly, we have the tools and the knowledge to help them heal and we were talking about that earlier inside. It is very important, just as we acknowledge mental illness – and it has been a taboo for too long – it’s important also that we recognise that mental illnesses can be cured, and are cured and that people who have been damaged, are not permanently damaged and can recover. And it’s the love and the support and the leadership of organisations like Solider On show, that enable that to be done.

Today, as I said, is World Mental Health Day and it’s a day to reflect on how much more we know about, what my good friend and a great psychiatrist Professor Ian Hickie calls ‘the mental wealth of nations’. It’s a very important concept. We all have a vested interest in each other’s mental health, that is why ‘R U OK’ is such a great initiative.

You know, your friend, your relative, your workmates mental state, is not just of concern to them it’s of concern to us all. So it is vitally important to be aware of your own, how you’re feeling, you’ve got to understand your own state of mind, but also keep an eye out for others.

Looking after your mates; what could be more Australian than that and that is why Soldier On is such a great Australian institution.

We recognise the importance of prioritising mental health and suicide prevention and we’ve backed that commitment with an additional $367.5 million over the past year.

We’re driving reform to support the mental health of all Australians, no matter who they are, where they live, or the nature or stage of the illness. We’re acutely aware of the social, economic and personal impacts of mental health, none more so than those experienced by our current and former serving members.

Last year I commissioned a review of suicide prevention services for veterans and ADF members. The review gave us a comprehensive understanding of those critical challenges facing our veteran and serving community and helped to direct the action we’ve taken in this year’s Budget.

We announced a $33.5 million expansion of the non-liability healthcare program to provide free, uncapped treatment for any mental health condition for anyone who has served one day in the ADF.

Dan, when you announced that initiative that was an enormous step forward. Again, a really practical commitment to support the men and women that keep us safe.

We’ve also invested more funding for new approaches to suicide prevention and expanding the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service to partners, children and families.

To ensure our personnel can make the transition to civilian life successfully and smoothly, we’ve launched – as I said, inspired at North Bondi RSL, launched at Kirribilli House, moved across the Harbour - launched the Veterans’ Employment Program, partnering with industry, it’s going very well.

Again it’s an awareness issue, make industry more aware of the enormous talents and skills our veterans have, help the veterans to make sure they can get their resumes in shape and pitch their skills successfully and what that does is ensure great post-service opportunities for our veterans and of course, Vice-Admiral, assists in recruitment too. Because people will understand that, a period in the ADF is a great investment for their post-service career as well.

In these centenary years of the First World War, I firmly believe that we best honour the diggers of 1917, by supporting the servicemen and women, the veterans and their families of 2017.

That is the way we best honour those diggers of 100 years ago; looking after you and so many other men and women like you.

That’s what Soldier On is all about, it’s why it has grown so rapidly in just five years and why it continues to make such a significant difference, such a significant change for the better for veterans and their families and all who serve our nation to keep us safe in dangerous places.

Thank you for what you do. And John and all the Soldier On team, Peter, all of you, congratulations on your work so far and congratulations on what is going to continue to be an extraordinary exercise in demonstrating that great Australian principle, tradition of looking after your mates, looking out for each other, practical love for those who keep us safe.
Thank you very much. 

Visit: First Ministerial Statement On Veterans And Their Families - The Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Veterans' Affairs

David Savage #SideBySide speech

When David Savage, Australia’s first civilian casualty of the Afghanistan War was critically injured, Soldier On CEO and Co-Founder John Bale immediately knew that the organisation had a duty to support those who put themselves on the line for Australia – regardless of what uniform they wear. David spoke to a group of Soldier On supporters this morning around the announcement of Soldier On’s expansion of services.

Read David’s full speech below:

When my son Chris, returned from visiting me in the US Military Hospital in Germany, he went to the launch of a new organization – Soldier On. There he met John Bale.  On my arrival back in Australia, John came and visited me in hospital offering the support of Soldier On.  I am ever so grateful that he did – there is nothing established to assist civilians such as myself.

My injuries from the blast were life changing and permanent. I suffered severe respiratory failure twice, a traumatic brain injury, broken leg, arm, spine, severe nerve damage, loss of hearing and partial loss of sight.  The number of ball bearings that struck me caused the head of Trauma at Sydney’s St. Vincent’s to describe it as if I had been shot 8 times with a shotgun.  To date I have had over 20 major surgeries. After a year and numerous nerve surgeries, I finally learnt how to walk again. However, two years ago, I had a set-back when some shrapnel in my spine moved, paralysing my right leg.

Apart from my incredible wife Sandy, my support has come from Soldier On, my former Police colleagues and ADF members that I have served side by side with over the years, because they get it!   To be honest DFAT, AusAID have been very disappointing in their response to my incident. They have no idea how to support service personnel and families, which they demonstrated by informing my family of the incident over the phone at 11.15pm -something ADF or AFP would never have done.

Prior to joining DFAT and being wounded, I had travelled the world for the UN, hosting, meeting and negotiating with heads of state and INGO’s.  Yet after being wounded I became introverted and afraid. I have trouble answering the telephone to friends, and I fear going into a supermarket.

Soldier On has helped me and my family in many ways. Connecting us to other families with similar experiences and ensuring financial disadvantage doesn’t prevent us from participating in social, community and sporting activities.  Being injured in service has affected every aspect of our lives.  Sandy has had to forego her career and salary to care for me, and our financial position eroded.

Through my Soldier On work I have been able to regain my sense of self worth. I may be unable to button up my shirt, write my name or recall my DOB but I can give back to those who have helped me.  By speaking on behalf of Soldier On to raise awareness, necessary funds and to encourage others to come forward to seek assistance – I  am able to assist those in the military and my first love – the Police and National Security community.

I, understand how difficult it is to seek help.  I, who acknowledge I have PTSD, was shocked when my psychologist suggested that I needed assistance. However, after some thought I attended the PTSD program.  Other attendees were from ADF and National Security Agencies -individuals still working and privately seeking assistance during their holidays bcause they didn’t want the shame or consequences of their employers knowing about their struggles.

We have to end this stigma around seeking help.

Mental Health affects more than just the individual, it affects family, friends, work and the community. However it doesn’t need to be the end.
Investing in support services like Soldier On is investing in your people. For me, Soldier On saved my life.

As Arnold H. Glasow says, “One of the tests of leadership, is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.”
Thank you for your time, and listening to me

About Soldier On
We help service personnel and their families build successful futures
Since 1990, over 290,000 brave men and women have served our country in the Australian Defence Force. From wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to peacekeeping missions in East Timor, Bougainville, Cambodia, the Solomon Islands, Somalia and Rwanda, our veterans have undertaken extraordinary tasks in defence of our nation. 

At Soldier On, we recognise that throughout these operations, the ADF and greater National Security Community have worked side by side. This is why we now also offer support to Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other security agencies.

Our aim is to help build resilient individuals capable of developing and expanding meaningful connection with family, community and employers.

Solider On NSW –  on Facebook www.facebook.com/SoldierOnNSW
Local Veterans can also contact the Sydney Northern Beaches Veterans centre (in Dee Why RSL): vcsnb.org.au

Compensation & Welfare Assistance
VCSNB will assist you with advice on entitlements and assistance to submit compensation claims for service related conditions, whilst our welfare assistance is focused on the wellbeing and betterment of veterans and their families.
Key elements of our support comprise of
– Open service available to any veteran
– Free service with no obligations
– DVA TIP trained officers who will provide personal assistance
– Peer support networks
– Legal advice/referrals

If you are a veteran who needs help, or know one, you can call the Veterans and Veterans Counselling Service (VVCS) on 1800 011 046.

Soldier On phone: 1300 620 380

If you or anyone you know needs help:
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
Headspace on 1800 650 890

Also Visit: First Ministerial Statement On Veterans And Their Families - The Hon Dan Tehan MP, Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Soldier On Board

Former Chief of Army and Director of the National Security Institute, University of Canberra
Director Qualifications: AC, Professor, BA Mil Studs UNSW, MMAS USACGSC, GAICD.
Lieutenant General Peter Leahy retired from the Army after a 37 year career as a soldier in July 2008, with the rank of Lieutenant General in the appointment of the Chief of Army. Since leaving the Army, Peter has joined the University of Canberra as a Professor and the Foundation Director of the National Security Institute. He is also Chairman of the Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal Committee in the ACT (removed). He is a member of several advisory, commercial and charity boards. He is a regular media commentator on defence and security matters.

Director Qualifications: AO, MBBS, MLM, FRACMA, FACLM, FACTM, DTM&H, Dip Sport Med
Major General (Ret’d) AO — Paul has had an extensive career in the Australian Defence Force (ADF). He is an experienced senior medical officer with over 30 years working across clinical executive posts, and has held board positions in military, private practice, commercial and not for profit organisations. Paul completed his tenure as Commander Joint Health and Surgeon General, ADF in December 2011.

Paul is Chairman of the Metro North Hospital and Health Service, the largest health service in Queensland and Chairman of the Immigration Health Advisory Group.

CEO & Managing Director Soldier On
Co-Founder Soldier On
Director Qualifications: BA (Hons) UNSW, MA UNSW, MMgtStud UNSW, GAICD.
John Bale is Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Soldier On. He served in the Army for 12 years and finished his career as a Chief of Army Scholar writing on the de-stigmatisation of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Australian Army.  John was state finalist for 2014 Young Australian of the year and winner of the EY Entrepreneurs of the Year 2016 Eastern Region and was the joint recipient of the 2017 UNSW Young Alumni Award.

Managing Partner – MinterEllison Canberra
Director Qualifications: BSc LLB (Hons)
Managing Partner of the Canberra office of MinterEllison.  Michael has been in commercial legal practice for over 20 years, 12 of those in a partnership role.

Partner – Defence and National Security, KPMG
Director Qualifications: BSC (Hons), MSC (Military Electronic Systems Engineering), Grad Dip Acc, AICAA, GAICD.
Anthony is the KPMG Defence Partner, has been a management consultant for 21 years and a former Army Officer for 14 years.

Royal Australian Navy
Director Qualifications: BSC (Hons) UNSW, Grad Dip Mgt (Defence studies) UC, Grad Cert Maritime studies UoW, MArts (Strategic Studies) Deakin

Michele has 29 years’ experience in the Royal Australian Navy, with nearly 15 years in seagoing positions, including serving on operations in the Middle East, East Timor and in border protection both in the north of Australia and in the Southern Ocean. As a Maritime Warfare Officer, she has been the commanding officer of a patrol boat and the frigate HMAS PERTH, and staff positions have included in capability development and career management. Michele is presently the Director General of the Navy People Branch, based in Canberra.

Director Qualifications: MA (Macq.)
Hugh is a multi-award winning political journalist and foreign correspondent with particular exposure to military activity in Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is currently a senior news presenter on the TEN and WIN networks and plays a board and advisory role in a number of charities and community organisations.

Observer to the Soldier On Board
Director Qualifications: BA (Hons), MAICD.

Benjamin was the Chief Executive Officer of Outward Bound Australia with more than 20 years management experience. He was previously the CEO of Australian Business Academy, Frontier Recruitment and a former Army Officer. He has been awarded the INTERFET medal and Australian Active Service Medal for service in East Timor.

Soldier On Board positions are volunteer-based with the exception of the Chief Executive Officer. All non-Executive Directors generously donate their time, including all travel, to assist in the governance and strategic direction of Soldier On.

Photos courtesy Soldier On HQ, Canberra