Significant Repatriation Commission appointments

A message from DVA Secretary Liz Cosson AM CSC

25 August 2020

To support the important work of DVA, and our continuing transformation, I am pleased to advise you of some significant senior staffing appointments. 

Deputy President 

I am pleased to announce that Ms Kate Pope PSM, who has been acting in this role since May 2020, has been appointed to the Deputy President role for a five-year term. Ms Pope has a passion for supporting our veteran community and has been a key contributor to our Veteran Centric Reform program and transforming the way we provide services and support to veterans and their families in recent years. 

In the Deputy President role, Ms Pope will be heavily involved in the decision-making of the Repatriation Commission and Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission, which make critical decisions about the services and support for 300,000 current and former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and their families. Ms Pope will also assist me and the DVA Executive leadership team in leading the development of veterans’ and families’ policy. 

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester has issued a media release about Ms Pope’s appointment.

Veteran Family Advocate

Ms Gwen Cherne has been appointed as the inaugural Veteran Family Advocate for a five-year term. Ms Cherne is a contemporary war widow and has dedicated her career to providing essential advocacy for Defence personnel and veterans’ families through a range of primarily volunteer and not-for-profit roles at both the national and international level. 

Ms Cherne will directly engage with the families of veterans to help shape policy and improve the design of veteran programs and services provided though our portfolio, including those relating to veteran mental health. She will work closely with the National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention and will be a Commissioner of the Repatriation Commission.

The Minister announced Ms Cherne’s appointment on 22 August. 

More information on her role is available in the Winter edition of Vetaffairs

Defence Engagement Commissioner

Major General Stuart Smith AO DSC (Retd) has been appointed to act in the newly created Defence Engagement Commissioner role for an initial period of 12 months from 31 August 2020. 

General Smith had a distinguished military career prior to his retirement from the ADF in 2017. When promoted to Major General in 2012, he became Commander of Australia’s 3,000 Defence Force Personnel in the Middle East and Afghanistan. He was previously Commander of Australia’s First Division in Brisbane and Deputy Commander of Joint Operations in Canberra. After leaving the ADF he became an advisor to the Queensland Premier on community solutions to youth crime, and from late 2018 until mid-2019 he was State Disaster Recovery Coordinator for the Central Queensland Bushfires and the North Queensland Monsoon Floods, where he led the community infrastructure environmental recovery operations across Queensland.

The Commissioner’s role will be to work closely with the ADF to support DVA’s response to the Senate Inquiry into Suicide by Veterans and Ex-service Personnel and the Inspector-General of the ADF’s Afghanistan Inquiry. The role will also include a focus on strategic planning for the Repatriation Commission.

Minister Chester issued a media release about the appointment of Major General Stuart Smith AO DSC (Retd).