The RSL Sub Branches of Stuarts Point, Macksville, Bowraville and Nambucca Heads routinely communicate with each other and work together when it comes to veterans issues and commemorative events in the Nambucca Valley.
The executive of these sub branches meet regularly to maintain focus on veterans issues that affect the valley and beyond.
Out of concern regarding a number of veterans-related matters the combined sub branches invited the recently elected Federal Member for Cowper, Pat Conaghan MP, to meet with them.
Mr Conaghan graciously accepted the invitation and came the the Nambucca Heads RSL Club on Thursday, August 15 and participated in a long and frank discussion with the group.
Foremost in the discussion was the issues that veterans have with the processing of compensation claims and dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) in general. Mr Conaghan identified that he was aware of these concerns and stated that "for far too long the DVA have dragged their heels in supporting our returned service men and women".
For far too long the DVA have dragged their heels in supporting our returned service men and womenPat Conaghan MP
Mr Conaghan pointed to some light at the end of the tunnel regarding DVA as he went onto advise the gathering that the Federal Coalition Government has recently invested $500 million into streamlining DVA services, simplifying applications and reducing difficulties for veterans.
The Member for Cowper was briefed on the Nambucca Valley's 'We're Here Initiative which encourages those separating from the Defence Force to relocate to the region. Mr Conaghan was impressed with this unique initiative as it means jobs for veterans and assured the group he will be bringing it to the attention of the Minister for Veteran Affairs, Darren Chester MP.
Mr Conaghan also hinted that he may be bringing Mr Chester to visit the electorate in the near future. Mr Conaghan and the RSL Sub Branch representatives engaged in discussion over issues such as veterans mental health services and the seeming lack of DVA presence in the area. He provided assurance that he would be discussing a number of issue raised at the meeting with the Minister for Veteran Affairs. Attendees were impressed by the Federal Member for Cowper's enthusiastic approach toward dealing with the issues raised.