ESO sector joins together to pursue a national peak body for veterans following Royal Commission outcomes

Australia’s Ex-Service Organisation (ESO) sector has called for a national peak body to represent and advocate the needs of Australian veterans, their families, and ESO organisations.

The move follows a forum coordinated by the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL) and attended by representatives of more than 50 different ESOs.

The group in attendance discussed extensively the need for greater alignment across the sector to secure better outcomes for veterans, particularly in regard to achieving greater prioritisation of the veteran community’s needs from all levels of government.

The forum collectively agreed that the ESO sector should pursue the establishment of a peak body organisation that could provide a single, clear voice on behalf of the industry was an essential requirement to achieving this and to shaping a positive future for the sector.

RSL Australia President Greg Melick noted the investment made by more than 70 representatives of the ESO community to attend the forum, and the collective commitment of the group to progressing collaborative efforts moving forward.

“The Australian veteran service and support environment is large, diverse and complex. However, this week’s forum was a reminder that we all share a single, unifying purpose and drive to secure positive futures for all veterans, and their families, that have sacrificed and given so much in service to our country.

“To do this, we need to be clear, consistent and relentless in how we are advocating for veterans and their families with the government, and across society.

“It was collectively agreed that the establishment of some sort of peak body should be pursued by the sector to better enable this, a move that the RSL is fully supportive of,” Greg Melick said.

The national ESO forum provided a platform for open discussion among Australia’s leading ESOs on how to coordinate and work collaboratively to address the issues and challenges highlighted by the Royal Commission.

Greg Melick emphasised the importance of the Government moving to establish an effective body to implement the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

“ESO Forum attendees agreed on the importance of a national implementation body as a core requirement and priority of the Government following the Royal Commission.

“The Royal Commission is an extremely important process to inform the work that needs to be done to urgently address the many issues facing Australia’s veteran community.

“It is equally important that the time and resources being invested into this Royal Commission process is not in vain. It is critical that an authoritative body is established following this process to oversee the implementation of the recommendations that the Royal Commission makes to government.

“The proposed implementation body must be created with the authority, accountability, and financial commitment to ensure that the time, testimony, submissions, and considerable emotional investment that so many have made as part of this of this Royal Commission are used to benefit the future of all of Australia’s veterans.” he said.

The ESO Forum attendees were joined by Commissioners Nick Kaldas APM, Dr Peggy Brown AO, and Hon James Douglas KC.

In his speech to the forum, Commissioner Kaldas highlighted the critical role that ESOs will play as part of the Royal Commission’s proceedings and its ability to shape a better future for all veterans and their families. He called upon ESOs to support the Commission in amplifying the need for greater attention, action, and commitment to the veteran community.

The ESO Forum was held in Canberra on Tuesday, 15 November and was coordinated by RSL Australia and RSL state bodies, facilitated by former MP, Gai Brodtmann.