About The Aussie Digger Website

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Support Our Troops By Protecting Their Entitlements

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While this Blog and website usually concentrate on matters which affect War Veterans and ex Service members, and Serving members, this Blog is open to all across the world. You do not have to be an Australian Veteran or Australian Serving member to take out registration and contribute. You can see from the categories drop down window on the right column that this site covers a whole range of matters.

This site has consistently stood against the use and abuse of sick, disabled and dying Veterans and ex Servicemembers by any Government. This site is also totally opposed to the use and abuse of the ADF for Party political purposes by any Government.

The history of our struggle for just disability entitlements and health care goes right back to the late 1970’s. At that time Vietnam Veterans had been marginalised, derided, abused, denied War Veteran disability entitlements, told Agent Orange was not a problem and that it was never used on Australian Troops and that it was so safe one could drink it. We were denied access to RSL clubs and sub branches, thrown out of clubs on occasions, belittled and treated as second class citizens….no, third class citizens.

Some Vietnam Veterans understood very clearly that we needed to organise, lobby Government and provide a safe ESO, effective for our compatriots. The Vietnam Veterans Association was eventually born. As many know Phil Thompson was a prominent figure at this time. Phil sadly is no longer with us. Therefore, within 10 years of the official end of the Vietnam War for Australia, Vietnam Veterans were organising and pushing the issues. Ultimately this led to the Evatt Royal Commission on Agent Orange. This was thought to be a breakthrough on the crucial issue of the spraying of this deadly chemical onto Australian Troops. However, despite sound, reputable and wide ranging scientific evidence which was presented to the Commission, there was great disappointment as we realised the Commission had been manipulated and was a white wash. Those courageous Diggers at that time soldiered on and never really gave in.

These determined Veterans found that Governments fight dirty and that it takes much work, dedication, time and stress to stand up for truth and justice. They also found it can affect our health if we don’t pace ourselves.

Ultimately, as a result of this campaign, Agent Orange exposure was accepted as a cause of very serious disabilities and illnesses, not just in Veterans, but in the families of Veterans.

Some of the campaigners from those early days remain with us, toiling away and standing up for what is just. We all owe them a great debt of gratitude. It’s not just Vietnam Veterans who benefited from their hard work, but many others.

Let’s roll the clock forward to the late 1990s. At this time a small group of TPIs in Western Australia realised that TPIs were being duded, and that the TPI payment had been eroding over time. They once again organised, published a professional and well run website in 1999, began lobbying Government, ESOs and the media and their fellow TPIs. Initially the TPI Campaign members were abused, maligned, threatened, disregarded, accused of being a small bunch of malcontents and every effort was made to undermine their work. However, we Soldiered on and our catch cry became tell the truth and deal in the issues. Leave character assassination, abuse, threats and intimidation to others. I personally came onboard with the TPI Campaign in 2000.

We were called the internet Mafia and keyboard cowboys, were told we didn’t know what we were talking about, were undermined, were stigmatised and we endured threats and character assassination. Does this sound familiar?

Once again we Soldiered on. Eventually, because of health reasons, the original TPI Campaign website was closed, and became an historical website for research. I then opened the Aussie Digger website, Forum and email lists in early 2002.

We were told we would never remove Brig Alf Garland as the TPI Federation President, we were told we would never remove Val Kleem, the Qld TPI Association President, we were told by the Department and many others that we would never force the Governments hand to get the TPI payment fully indexed to the CPI/MTAWE, we were told we would not force the Government to fully fund the Gold Card and we were told we would achieve nothing because we were greedy and selfish and a bunch of ratbags who were rabble rousing, trouble makers who understood nothing who would eventually go away.

Blue Ryan did become the TPI Federation President,replacing Alf Garland, Val Kleem was swept out of office, Government, Opposition, the media and our fellow Vets began to see we meant business, and that, importantly, we had clout, and that WE WERE RIGHT. We have never ever told lies about the issues. We have always told the truth.

The TPI Campaign began to embrace wider issues, and then became the Fair Go Campaign. Apart from the erosion of TPI entitlements, it became obvious that may specialists and some GPs were refusing to accept the Gold Card and it also became clear that those TPIs without qualifying service were not receiving the same compensation as their mates with qualifying service. This was because of the policy of Social Security to count the TPI compensation payment as income when assessing SS disability support pensions.

Much logical, provable information was circulated and shown to politicians and the Department,to the media and to fellow Veterans and because of the political nature of these matters, the Government promised us the Clarke Review before the 2001 election. This review took 12 months to sit and a further 12 months to pass down it’s findings. It then took another 12 months before the Government announced what it intended to do with these findings…….just before the 2004 election! The Government failed to act honourably on Clarkes recommendations, and once again we were left floundering, despite a back bench revolt of 13 Government members in the Party room who were successful in forcing the PM and then DVA Minister Vale to accept minimal Clarke proposals.

We continued to lobby. The TPI Federation and Blue Ryan were relentless in their pursuit of justice, as later was the Vietnam Veterans Federation and the PVA. The RSLs hand was forced and it finally admitted the veracity of the Campaign, and came to accept our position on the major issues. Eventually, we reached a point some 18 months ago or so where all the major ESOs now agree on all the major issues, issues which were highlighted many years previously.

Happliy, because of the tenacity of these campaign members, which include ESOs and many, many Veterans using the now accepted web and email based technology for passage of information and lobbying, the full TPI will now be fully indexed in March of 2008, the Gold Card issue has been fixed by the injection of around $600 Mil, the General Rate of disability pensions will be fully indexed from March 2008 and War Widows will see indexation of a component of their pension increased in March 2008, a component which has languished for years. It is important to understand that the TPI Campaign has resulted in other issues being remedied.

We have all come a long way, BUT there is no room for complacency, and we must continue to monitor the actions of Government. It is also time for post 1975 Veterans to better organise, start lobbying, start gathering accurate information about their issues and to begin a strong, respectable and honest campaign to claw back lost entitlements and to make sure there is no erosion of their entitlements in the future.

MANY, MANY Veterans and ex Service members have been involved in this latest campaign. They are far too numerous to mention. They and others know who they are.

We all owe a great debt of gratitude to these people who have suffered, toiled long and hard, died, ended up in hospital and put everything on the line for their mates.


I Believe It Is Better To Die On Your Feet Than Live On Your Knees”…John (Blue) Ryan…TPI Federation President and Vietnam Veteran.”


The 1995 task force report stated:
“Veterans have made a special contribution to Australia which needs to be recognised in a tangible way.

Historically, veterans have been treated by the Commonwealth government as a special group with the provision of special benefits, income support, health care and compensation. The special status of the veteran community ought to be recognised as a special community of interest in aged care planning as veterans reach the final years of their lives and require access to a wide range of aged care services.”