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Wednesday, 22 August 1984
Page: 162


Senator SCOTT (Leader of the National Party of Australia)(5.33) -I move:

That the Senate take note of the papers.

I welcome this report. It is the first part of a report being prepared by a committee under the chairmanship of Professor Waterhouse. When the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service was established in 1982 regard was given to its future continuance. This report is considerable evidence of the fact that the Service produced some very effective results in its first couple of years. Its clients numbered in excess of 3,000. Clearly, this part of the report, which makes quite a number of recommendations, provides a very successful and necessary addition to the circumstances surrounding Vietnam veterans in particular and their problems, both social and economic, in settling into the Australian community to which they so clearly belong. It is quite an extensive, in-depth review and evaluation of the operation of this Service. A number of recommendations are of a structural and administrative nature. Indeed, the final one, if I recall it correctly, suggests the possibility that the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service may well eventually be extended to involve such a service to veterans from all other conflicts in Australia's history and veterans of the defence forces themselves.

There seems to be little doubt that many of the problems that confront the Vietnam veterans in this country are in some measure peculiar to them. They are peculiar perhaps in the sense that it was a conflict in which there was not unanimous support at home for the people involved. It was a conflict which took place in unusual circumstances; circumstances in which even one's enemy was extraordinarily difficult to identify. Because of these and other pressing reasons the problems of those men who have returned from that conflict have in some measure differed, certainly in intensity, from the problems of men who have returned from other areas of conflict over the years.

I do not need to add to these remarks except to reiterate that the first part of the report of Professor Waterhouse's committee quite clearly indicates that the operation of the Counselling Service is successful. It involves a great number of people who are benefiting from it. Recently I had an opportunity to talk to members of the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service in Townsville. I was impressed by the amount of work that they did and the sincerity and dedication of the people involved in offering the services in that area. This service has spread to all capital cities, and Townsville. It is probable and, certainly I believe, necessary that its availability to the more remote areas of rural Australia should be a significant consideration for the future. I commend the report to the Senate.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! The time allocated by Sessional Orders for the consideration of Government papers has expired.