Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - History -  JU­LIAN LESSER MP


I want to use my col­umn this month to high­light those who serve our coun­try in peace time and in war time.

Each Anzac Day, we pause to re­mem­ber and re­flect on the sac­ri­fice and ser­vice of the brave men and women who have fought and died de­fend­ing our na­tion and the demo­cratic free­doms we en­joy.

This year marks a se­ries of an­niver­saries of bat­tles where Aus­tralians served in World War I, World War II and Viet­nam.

We ob­serve the 100th an­niver­saries of the Bat­tle of Messines, the five Bat­tles of Ypres, in­clud­ing the Bat­tles of Pass­chen­daele and Poly­gon Wood on the Western Front, and the charge of the light horse at the Bat­tle of Beer­sheba in Is­rael. We mark the 75th an­niver­saries of a num­ber of bat­tles dur­ing World War II in­clud­ing: the Fall of Sin­ga­pore, the Bat­tle of the Co­ral Sea, the Bat­tle of Milne Bay, the Bat­tle of El Alamein, and the Kokoda cam­paign. This year is also the 50th an­niver­sary of Op­er­a­tion Bri­bie in 1967 and our in­volve­ment in the Viet­nam War.

It was an hon­our to join the Brook­lyn RSL Sub-Branch at their an­nual Anzac Day Com­mem­o­ra­tive Ser­vice and din­ner last Sun­day, where I spoke about Brook­lyn res­i­dents who served our coun­try. I am look­ing for­ward to services at Cher­ry­brook, Du­ral, Gal­ston, Hornsby, Berowra, Ken­thurst, An­nan­grove and Glenorie in the days around Anzac Day.


Anzac Day also en­cour­ages us to re­flect on what we are do­ing for our cur­rent vet­er­ans.

Un­for­tu­nately, many of our re­turn­ing de­fence per­son­nel, es­pe­cially young sol­diers are af­fected by men­tal ill­ness. Re­cently, the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment con­ducted a re­view into the sui­cide and self- harm pre­ven­tion services avail­able to cur­rent and for­mer serv­ing Australian De­fence Force mem­bers and their fam­i­lies. This re­view found that vet­er­ans un­der 30 have a sui­cide rate above the na­tional av­er­age. A re­cent Sky News in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that 41 mil­i­tary per­son­nel and vet­er­ans took their own lives in 2016, the same as the num­ber of Aus­tralians who were killed in Afghanistan dur­ing 13 years of war. It is an ab­so­lute pri­or­ity that we com­bat these alarm­ing fig­ures and see cur­rent and for­mer Australian De­fence Force per­son­nel and their fam­i­lies re­ceive the sup­port they de­serve.

All those who have served full-time in the De­fence Force can ac­cess free treat­ment for post-trau­matic stress disor­der, de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety, al­co­hol and sub­stance abuse through the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans’ Af­fairs. To­gether with the Depart­ment of De­fence and the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans’ Af­fairs, the Gov­ern­ment is de­vel­op­ing strate­gies to pro­vide fur­ther as­sis­tance to for­mer mem­bers of the Australian De­fence Force.


On 7 April, I joined the Ken­thurst Brigade of the NSW Ru­ral Fire Ser­vice at their an­niver­sary din­ner to cel­e­brate 75 years of out­stand­ing ser­vice to our com­mu­nity. We are for­tu­nate to have ded­i­cated vol­un­teers pro­tect­ing us through­out Hornsby and the Hills Shire. I par­tic­u­larly con­grat­u­late Ken­thurst Pres­i­dent Bruce Lin­ton, Brigade Deputy Pres­i­dent Bill Dun­can, Hills Dis­trict Man­ager John Ho­jel, Jeremy Clegg, Ken Feather­stone, Ray Han­cock and Lionel Smith on a fan­tas­tic night of cel­e­bra­tion.

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