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Friday, 4 May 1984
Page: 1611

Senator CHILDS —My question is directed to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. As the very existence of the Department of Veterans' Affairs arises out of the need to look after people who have returned from wars, is it planning to make any contribution to the International Year of Peace in 1986?

Senator GIETZELT —The Minister for Foreign Affairs has written to all departments suggesting that they should make a contribution to the International Year of Peace in 1986. I am sure that each department will consider this very seriously. My Department has, and it is planning to make a positive contribution in conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs. I have written to the Minister and advised him in those terms. I proposed a number of initiatives in that letter. The first was a scheme to train doctors and other technicians from South East Asian countries in respect of our Repatriation Artificial Limb and Appliances Centre. That is particularly important having regard to the amounts of civil strife that exists in countries north of Australia. The second initiative was to consider establishing 'Gardens of Peace' and 'Peace Playgrounds' at our Repatriation general hospitals, and the third was to mount mobile peace displays at agricultural shows, libraries, art galleries and museums. The fourth initiative was to assist the Department of Foreign Affairs in producing a peace film by providing information about the voluntary work of ex-service organisations.

I think it is most important that my Department play a significant role in the decision of the United Nations to conduct a year of peace in 1986, particularly because the clients of the Department of Veterans' Affairs are veterans and casualties of war and are in the best position to realise the need to carry out the prime objectives of the United Nations as stated in its charter 'to save succeeding generations from the ravages of war and instead, to practise tolerance and live together to maintain international peace and security'. I am certain that they are the sentiments of the overwhelming majority of veterans in this country.