Home' Air Force News : October 15th 2009 Contents 20 Personnel
AIR FORCE October 15, 2009
Below is a copy of the letter sent to the edi-
tor of The Australian newspaper.
I wish to respond to The Australian's page 1 sto-
ry on September 26, titled 'The 83 injured Diggers
who became invisible'.
I take issue with your inaccurate reporting that the
Australian Defence Force (ADF) is deliberately try-
ing to hide the number of ADF personnel wounded in
Afghanistan and the seriousness of their wounds.
As I have said publicly many times as Chief of the
Defence Force, it is my intention to be as open and
transparent with the Australian public and media as
possible, without compromising the security of our
troops and our operations.
The ADF makes no apology for protecting the pri-
vacy of soldiers who have been seriously wounded. It
is our belief that in such circumstances the health and
recovery of the wounded person must be the number
Of those who have been seriously wounded in
Afghanistan, the majority have been from Special
Forces. These soldiers have protected identity status
and the exact nature of their missions cannot be dis-
Regardless, it is ADF policy to report to the
Australian public incidents in which personnel are
wounded as a result of enemy action and we provide
the media, as we did with journalist Paul Toohey, the
latest figures on how many Australian soldiers have
been wounded in Afghanistan since 2005.
"Silence" is not the official policy, as your paper
Most of our people and their families do not want
media intrusion at a time when focusing on recovery
from life-threatening wounds is paramount. To hold a
media conference around a hospital bed at such a time
would be extremely insensitive.
In time, those wounded in battle may wish to share
their stories publicly, and some do. This, however, is a
very personal decision and a choice that the ADF has
no right to make.
Whether someone tells their story or not does not
diminish the selfless sacrifice they have made or the
tremendous respect we have for all of them.
ACM Angus Houston
Chief of the Defence Force
The Australian's article can be found at: http://www.
got it wrong,
DO YOU have or are you
intending to submit a military
Do you think you need assist-
ance in progressing your claim
but are not sure where to go?
Assistance is at hand from
the Air Force's Military Claims
Liaison Office (MCLO-AF). It is
located at RAAF Base Amberley
and led by WOFFs Blu Hind and
It was established several
years ago to provide command-
ers and serving PAF and reserve
members with access to specialist
advice and assistance with mili-
tary compensation issues. Since
then, it has supported more than
5000 individual claims and is
currently assisting 550 members,
including some Navy and Army
The MCLO provides impar-
tial specialist advice for mem-
bers who may require assistance
in preparing, submitting and
progressing military compensa-
tion claims to the Department of
Veterans' Affairs (DVA).
Its services include liaison
with Defence, government and
ex-service organisations and
advising Defence agencies on
trends or incidents relating to ill-
nesses and diseases associated
with Defence employment.
It will assist members with
ongoing claims during their
transition out of the Air Force
or liaise with suitable ex-service
advocates on behalf of the mem-
ber.It also assists advocates
from ex-service and other civil-
ian organisations by providing
unclassified specialist informa-
tion on Defence issues and by
compiling complete documenta-
tion in support of DVA claims.
How can the MCLO help
you? If you are a serving member
and in need of impartial advice
regarding illnesses or accidents
related to military employment,
then you might consider contact-
ing the MCLO.
Its specialists will assist you
to gather supporting evidence and
prepare claims for submission to
Once your claim has been
submitted, MCLO will assist you
by monitoring the claim process
and assisting with any additional
information that may be required.
A good example of how
MCLO can assist members is the
comprehensive support it provid-
ed to the veterans of the F-111
Deseal/Reseal program. The pro-
gram has been an enduring focus
for the MCLO for the past few
years and is still ongoing.
As in all such arenas, there
are a number of privacy and legal
aspects under which the MCLO
is required to operate.
Once formal consent has been
given for the MCLO to act on a
member's behalf, the office will
not disclose details of their case
to a third party, including other
Defence agencies, without the
explicit approval of the member
Also, for legal reasons, the
MCLO is not able to enter into
or retain a client relationship with
members who are pursuing inde-
pendent legal advice regarding
litigation, or a common law claim
in relation to any injury or illness.
For more information on the
MCLO and its services, contact
WOFFs Hind or Houghton on
1800 558 022 or 0407 210 689.
Claim help from MCLO
SCARED OF PAPERWORK?: If processing
your military compensation claim is too daunting
a task, then help is at hand from the Military
Claims Liaison Office. Photo: CPL Melina Mancuso
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