It wasn’t much. No hot running water and no immediate toilet or shower facilities (under the main house, quite the walk in the middle of winter I must tell you). As you can see from the above text there were no problems with my landlady in the previous four and a half years. For what it was worth, it was home.
J* might be looking at more rent and thinks a bloke who stood on a wall for a bit might not be a good option (I wasn’t asked). More likely she is worried about her sketchy son who moved in about two years back and his mates getting up to no good. Her son loved stealing my mower fuel or taxing the odd thing out of the barn that took his fancy.
Whatever the reason, the thing that changed her mind was the Royal Commission.
So, my home for four and a half years is gone.
Anyways, my whole family comes over to help me. The five of us spend the best part of three hours cleaning and tidying up (it’s one room). Literally, my cabin is the tidiest part of the property (as the owner and the kids are filthy) and I’ve hardly been there over the past year. When the clean is done I even buy her a VB ‘tallie’ and leave it in the fridge to say no hard feelings.
Later on the same evening I get a text from J* saying there were things she was not happy with and implying she was going to withhold the bond. Minor stuff but I’ve seen her do it to another tenant. I told her to keep her bond. I’m done dealing with evil people.
I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that even 25-years later my service costs me. Everyday. Sometimes in small ways and then you get days like this.
Being ‘triggered’ is part of my “thing”. I’ve only noticed it in recent years but on reflection it has been happening for a quarter-of-a-century. Just had one today. I’ll document to help explain things!
Here it goes…
I see a tweet via Luke Henriques-Gomes. This is the tweet:
Straight away and out loud I say this… “I fucking know Dun & Bradstreet”.
I’m better with memory work in 2022. I’m surprised by the date but only by one year (which for me is pretty good).
So, after the Australian Army sent me insane in March 1997, I struggled on for another 18-months, in the Army. Then I went very publicly insane again in October 1998. The Army decided after a long fight to give me an Administrative Discharge (effectively a Dishonourable Discharge) and fine me $500.
By the time I got this lovely letter from Dun & Bradstreet I was on struggle street.
Before I make the declarations, I’d like for you to consider the following.
I won’t be able to point to a single document or set of events that would assist in this search. I’ll try but I’m likely to fail the direct request you are seeking. That said. I put forward this FOI request because it is important.
So, a quick story before the declarations.
It is the 6th June 2019. I have recently been released from the Cooinda Mental Health Service, my first MH hospitalisation (unfortunately, not my last). I am trying to work out the MyService website. It is almost as awful as the Centrelink services I have become accustomed to as my health deteriorates.
I fckn hate medals. Hate the glorification of the military. Hate ANZAC Day. Anyways, I finally got a gong and Wayne Swan pins it on me, so I think it is all good. Except, it isn’t good. I wear it once and I’m so shitty wearing it I give it away to my second son (who thinks it has some value). Back to 2019…
I’m doing the whole MyService thing on the MyGov site and they ask me do you want to sign up for the Covenant and I’m like, OK… Should be cool right?
I’m going through the process to get a nice letter from the DVA Minister, the Secretary (oh, Liz) and a pin I could wear instead of the gongs. Even though I hate it all I can find a way through. Until…
Some fuckwit at DVA doesn’t understand rank. There is no drop-down for Signalman. Signaller sure. Bombardiers aplenty… Language matters.
I go berko of course. Even put in an official complaint (completely ignored).
Back to official declarations.
This is a request for the purpose of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 for access to the following documents:
Any Australian Army documents that detail the last document that included Signalman
Should you have any questions in relation to this request, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
I’m very sick. Before being admitted to hospital I use the last of my dollars in the bank to pay a month of rent in advance. I ring my NEIS (New Enterprise Incentive Scheme) provider who immediately cancels my payments. When I leave hospital, I must reapply for Newstart. At approximately $700 per fortnight, it only just covers rent and food.
I am in a bad way mentally, physically, and financially.
I understand I can access up to $10,000 via my super due to financial hardship. I’ve assisted a few people in this regard in the past. I put in the application with the following cover letter:
I get the answer back via a phone call and follow-up email two weeks later. The answer is No.
I’ve been sober for more than 550-days to this point but this tips me over. I’m also reacting badly to the anti-psychotics I’ve been prescribed. I’ve just been released from hospital and now staring down the barrel of homelessness (again). I don’t care anymore. I buy a flagon and get to work.
Ironically, I’ve been doing a financial planning internship for two years. I’m doing the reading on compassionate grounds, but the bar is set very high. Too high for me in fact. The suggestion of going to the Department of Human Services and asking for mercy is laughable. I re-read the email from MLC as the wine kicks in and I have a thought. Don’t I get some money from the DVA?
I send the DVA a request for more information. They respond the very next day.
It is $6.20 per fortnight but meets the criteria for a pension payment. I’ve been on it for eight months. I forward the pension verification to MLC.
My application for accessing my superannuation is approved the next day.
Turned out I copped the Mefloquine Loading Dose in 1997. Plus, the cocktail they serve up afterwards. It was never noted in my medical or personal records. I didn’t remember it until I had flashbacks to another incident. It all got lost to history until the flashbacks hospitalised me.
I got very ill in late 2018 and continued to worsen until I was hospitalised in March 2019. I left the mental health unit in early April with a will to get better. I tried to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs for months after that and my advocates and I were initially optimistic about the DVA’s response to the Senate Enquiry. As my advocate and I filled out the claims for mefloquine which I had done almost two-decades previously we were heartened by Darren Chester’s announcement of the Anti-Malarial Initiative.
You can read the Ministers statement here. He announced this on the 15th March 2019.
When my advocate and I rang up a few months later in mid-2019 we were told that the entire Mefloquine programme was being shut down!
Here is the official response for the anti-malarial health check dated 2nd October 2019.
We fought very hard to get mefloquine back on the agenda. The various Ministers and the DVA have fought against us at every step.
The Anti-Malarial Medications Health Assessment Program finally got up in late 2021 run by BUPA. Outsourced to an insurance company.
Why is that important today?
Because the DVA is promoting a program that outsources complex health situations for veterans in extremely hazardous situations to an insurance group. This has led to deaths amongst veterans.
I didn’t participate in the early hearing blocks of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide. I understood that listening to the stories of other witnesses would be traumatic. I understand I can get triggered. I was being very careful.
Over the past fortnight, I have been following the proceedings with much interest. It’s my old outfit. 3 Brigade (I didn’t connect with the 3rd Combat Brigade rename). After 25-years absence I thought that with time and distance it would be enough to insulate me from further triggers.
I was very wrong.
This would be a wonderful segue into my specific topic of interest. Mefloquine. Just a note. Tafenoquine is a relevant subject too and I thought it would have been discussed in Townsville.
Wrong, on both accounts.
Yet, something else came up watching the Royal Commission. If you were watching it as a veteran or currently serving member it should send chills down your spine. According to the witness testimony this week they apparently interviewed more than a 100 people in Townsville during the fortnight of hearings. Via Transcript Day 5 − Townsville, 24 June 2022. Excerpt:
CHAIR: Good morning, Mr Gray, Mr Free. We want to place a number of matters on the record today before we hear from you hopefully. By way of background, and happy to place this on the record. Counsel and Solicitors Assisting us have requested this brief procedural hearing this morning.
The background is as follows: before our hearing program began, we were concerned to do everything we could to encourage serving and former members of the Defence Force to come forward with any information they considered relevant to our Terms of Reference, and to ensure that there would be appropriate arrangements in place for sensitive information so that they would face no risk of legal liability for sharing information with us. This is a very important issue for the Royal Commission, as you can appreciate, and we want to ensure every protection is given to those who come forward with information. In October last year we asked Solicitors Assisting to send the Commonwealth a proposed written arrangement to achieve this. We were not proposing to elicit any protected information or even sensitive operational information; we simply wanted an unambiguous green light given to serving and former serving members to provide appropriate and textual information for us relating to their accounts about the circumstances of service that led to their experiences of suicidality or witnessing suicidality or witnessing risk factors in service without fear that by doing so, they could in any way get into trouble for revealing Defence‑related information.
As the Townsville leg came to an end Commissioner Kaldas, to his credit tried to reassure Veterans that any evidence you give to the Royal Commission won’t be prosecuted. He brought up the powers of the Royal Commission legislation to protect witnesses and the fact that General Angus Campbell made a public commitment to not prosecute anyone for giving evidence.
The Commonwealth have yet to offer such comfort to Veterans. In fact, their reticence comes in the same week as it was confirmed the Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus would allow the Commonwealth to pursue ATO whistle-blower Richard Boyle.
Just to be clear.
If you have no protected legal rights, you effectively have no rights. Other Veterans have tried to disclose sensitive information including war-crimes and have been subjected to severe legal ramifications. This includes David McBride. I can’t believe I’m backing an Officer, but we live in strange times.
As much as I appreciated the strong words by Commissioner Kaldas, the decision to pursue witnesses legally won’t be a decision for the Royal Commission or of the Australian Defence Force. It will be a Commonwealth matter.
As for the ADF, officers and the assurances of the General Campbell. I don’t believe him. So far, the fallout from the Brereton report into extrajudicial killings in Afghanistan elicited the following actions from the ADF in regards to Operation Slipper.
They forgave the officers and gave then legal immunity.
They dismissed or charged the Diggers. Some of these guys have since taken their own life.
They discussed disbanding units. Still pending.
They were about to remove the combat medals of Veterans. Still pending.
I’ve been following the discussion about raising the rate of social security payments above the Henderson Poverty line. At the same time, I’m seeing a lot of chatter about people trying to access the Centrelink call centre and not being able to get through. I ranted about the Average Speed of Answer back in 2018. If you have never heard of the ASA, it is basically the time it takes for the Call-Centre to pick up your call. Yes, if you hang up your data doesn’t count.
Anyway, I thought I’d crunch the numbers again to see if last year’s data was any guide.