Historical information

Past Membership

Past PMAC members
Position Name Membership
Chair Vice Admiral Russ Crane AO, CSM, RANR 13 March 2014 – ongoing
Deputy Chair Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC, MG 13 March 2014 – 31 December 2020
Member Mr Michael von Berg MC, OAM
Chairman, The Royal Australian Regiment Association Corporation
Member, Veterans Advisory Council of South Australia
13 March 2014 – 31 December 2020
Member Mr Geoffrey Evans
Younger Veterans Advisor, RSL LifeCare
13 March 2014 – 31 December 2020
Member Mrs Joy Jenkins 13 May 2017 – ongoing
Member Ms Jocelyn Parsons 13 May 2017 – ongoing
Member Dr Sheralyn Rose BHSc, BLitt (Hons), PhD 13 May 2017 – ongoing
Member Air Vice-Marshal Tracy Smart AM
Commander Joint Health/Surgeon General ADF
Joint Health Command
13 March 2014 – 31 December 2020
Member Mr Ryan Stokes
Chief Executive Officer, Australian Capital Equity
13 March 2014 – 31 December 2020

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Terms of Reference

Preamble

Mental illness will impact almost half the Australian population over a lifetime. As noted by the National Mental Health Commission in its National Mental Health Report 2013, mental health reform has been a longstanding priority for all governments over many years, with significant investments in clinical and community support services. However, much remains to be done to build a modern, responsive mental health system in Australia.

There are particular risks for our former serving men and women who may have been put in harm’s way in the course of their service. One of the four pillars of the Government’s plan for veterans’ affairs is tackling mental health challenges for veterans and their families. The Government is therefore establishing a high-level Prime Ministerial Advisory Council with a specific focus on mental health issues affecting veterans and their families.

Role

The role of the Prime Ministerial Advisory Council on Veterans’ Mental Health (the Council) is to advise the Prime Minister, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, and the Government on high-level strategic and complex matters relating to the mental health of veterans and their families, particularly those relating to former serving personnel with service after 1975.

Aims

The aim of the Council is to provide timely and comprehensive advice to Government about mental health issues for veterans and their families, including consideration of:

  1. The lived experience of ex-serving personnel and their families of the mental health system as health care consumers and carers.
  2. Emerging research and information on the impact of military service on the mental health of ex-serving personnel and their families.
  3. The means by which any identified gaps in the veteran mental health service system might be addressed, to move towards a modern, responsive system.
  4. Innovative ways to tackle the challenges relating to mental health facing ex-serving personnel and their families.

Referral of matters

The Council considers matters on referral from the Prime Minister, and the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.

Where the Council is of the view that another forum or committee is best placed to consider a matter raised with it through correspondence, the Council will refer the matter to the Chair of that forum or committee. If the correspondent remains dissatisfied with the advice received and the matter falls within its remit, the Council may seek a written submission from the relevant agency or authority, for its consideration.

In addition to matters referred formally to the Council, members may propose agenda items relevant to the Council’s remit for discussion at its meetings. Deliberations on those matters will be informed by written and oral submissions on invitation from the Council.

Relationship with other advisory bodies

In fulfilling its role, the Council will be cognisant of, refer to, and draw on, other relevant advisory bodies including (but not limited to) the National Mental Health Commission, noting the Commission’s mission is to give mental health and suicide prevention national attention, to influence reform and to help people live contributing lives by reporting, advising and collaborating.

In order to maximise cross-communication with other relevant bodies, the Chairs (or other appropriate members) will be ex officio members of the Council.

Other relevant bodies include the Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ advisory bodies, including the Veteran Mental Health Clinical Reference Group and the National Consultation Framework bodies. 

Membership

Members of the Council are appointed by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs:

  • The Council will comprise up to 12 Members, including the Chair;
  • The Chair, who will be independent of ex-service organisations and the Departments of Veterans’ Affairs and Defence, will possess a strong background and experience at high-levels in matters relevant to the Council’s Role and Aims;
  • Council membership will include ex-officio members;
  • Members who are not ex-officio will be chosen on the basis of individual merit. They will possess a strong background interest and experience in, as well as a profound understanding of, veterans’ mental health; and
  • All current terms of appointments will expire on 31 December 2019, unless otherwise stipulated by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.

Meetings

The Council will meet three times a year, in person and/or by telephone or video conference if required.

The Council may also meet with invited presenters for the purpose of presentations and interactive discussions.

Secretariat support

Secretariat support for open Council sessions will be provided by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

The Secretariat is required to provide the following to the Chair within two weeksof a Council meeting:

  • a draft Summary of Proceedings, to be published to the Council’s site on the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs’ website;
  • draft Minutes of the meeting, to be circulated only among Members; and
  • a list of Action Items arising from the meeting.

The Secretariat will circulate the final Minutes to members and publish the final Summary of Proceedings on the Minister’s website within five working days of their clearance by the Chair.

Review

The Council’s effectiveness will be reviewed periodically, as requested by the Minister.

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Members’ Biographies

Vice Admiral Russ Crane AO, CSM, RANR

Vice Admiral Russ CraneVice Admiral Russ Crane’s 40 years of service culminated on 4 July 2008 with his appointment as Chief of Navy. During his time as the Chief of Navy he was awarded the United States of America Legion of Merit (Degree of Commander) and Singaporean Meritorious Service Medal for his commitment and achievements in international interoperability. For his distinguished service he was elevated to an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2010. More recently he was invested at the direction of the President of the Republic of France as a Commander in the Order of National Merit.

Since retiring in June 2011 Russ has become a member of the Defence South Australia Advisory Board working with the State to optimise its position in maintaining current Defence activity and preparing for new opportunities. He is also a sole trader in his own business, trading as Bowline Consultants, providing advice in areas such as strategic leadership and reform as well as Defence planning. Russ is a Trustee for the Navy Clearance Diving Trust and Patron of a number of organisations based around RAN Junior Recruits.

Michael von Berg MC, OAM

Michael von BergMichael von Berg is the President of the South Australia Branch of The Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) Association which has a particular interest in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and military related mental health issues. He also is the national Chairman of The RAR Corporation and Council.

Michael served with the 5th Battalion of the RAR in Vietnam in 1966-67, establishing and commanding the first Reconnaissance Platoon, during which time he was awarded the Military Cross. He went on to serve in the Special Air Service Regiment, Commandos, RAR and Staff Postings resigning his commission in 1973.

Michael has held numerous non-executive directorships of public and private companies. He is an accredited project manager and consultant and has managed multimillion dollar projects in the wine, mining and horticultural industries. He is a member of the Veterans Advisory Council of SA and the Ex Service Organisation Round Table.

Geoffrey Evans

Geoffrey EvansGeoffrey Evans served in the Australian Army, including deployments to East Timor and Afghanistan. He was wounded in action on 22 December 2010, when an improvised explosive device detonated in close proximity to him. He suffered a traumatic brain injury, a spinal injury and also suffers Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Geoffrey has been open about his struggle with PTSD and how it has affected his personal life and family. He was involved in the inclusion of veteran’s issues in the National Report Card on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention 2013, and is a passionate advocate for improving mental health support for contemporary veterans. Geoffrey serves as the Contemporary Veterans Advisor to RSL Life Care and as a Wounded Ambassador for Soldier On.

Joy Jenkins

Joy JenkinsJoy Jenkins is the Partners of Veterans Association representative on the Council and has lifelong experience with Defence as both the daughter of a Vietnam veteran and wife to a serving Defence member who is a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. This experience gives Joy insight into the unique aspects of Service life for partners and their families. She has personal experience in supporting veterans with PTSD, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and anxiety as well as the range of issues supporting four children through the turbulence of nine relocations overseas and throughout Australia

Joy has qualifications in Business Management and Life Coaching. She is passionate about issues related to PTSD-afflicted serving and ex-serving members and is a strong advocate of the value of local small-group associations to support their families.

Jocelyn Parsons

Jocelyn ParsonsJoss Parsons has served over twenty years in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as a Maritime Warfare Officer, as both a permanent member and a Reservist, including an operational deployment to the Middle East.

Since leaving the permanent forces, Joss has worked as a crisis and emergency response manager across a number of industries and was awarded the 2012 Telstra Young Business Woman’s Award for the ACT for her role in the protection of the marine environment. Joss received an Australia Day Medallion in 2017 for her work, as a reservist, within the Maritime Trade Operations branch of the RAN. She has most recently worked as the Managing Director of the Oceania entity of one of the world’s largest maritime emergency response and services company.

As a veteran herself, Joss has long been a supporter of ADF Veterans and is passionate about ensuring they receive the appropriate support from relevant agencies and that the transition from defence life to the civilian world is as smooth as possible.

Dr Sheralyn Rose BHSc, BLitt (Hons), PhD

Dr Shrealyn RoseWith a lengthy career in primary health care, medical sociologist, Dr Sheralyn Rose, has held a variety of positions in consultation, policy formation and senior management. Experiences in Australia and UK have given her a comprehensive background in assessing population health needs, including mental health and suicide prevention programs. She is passionate about bringing professional knowledge into the everyday lives of people to empower individuals, communities and organisations as they strive to achieve optimal health and wellbeing.

Married to the late Brigadier (rtd) Peter McGuinness CSC for 35 years Sheralyn's personal and professional lives collided with Peter's death by suicide 5 years after military discharge. The enormity of the consequences of his death inspired her to investigate the causes of military suicide and to research the effect of suicide on primary relationships. Collecting stories of lived experiences of loss through suicide, and combining these with her own, is the basis for her book, Suicide Tsunami. Living in the Aftermath.

Being invited to present a paper at the 2016 Annual Conference of the American Association of Suicidology, Chicago, USA led to her inclusion as a member on an international task force for clinicians experiencing suicide loss. Specific involvement with military suicide, including secondary and generational consequences, motivate her as a consultant, author and advocate for families impacted by suicide.

Air Vice-Marshal Tracy Smart AM

Air Vice-Marshal Tracy SmartAir Vice-Marshal Tracy Smart AM is Commander Joint Health (CJHLTH)/Surgeon General ADF (SGADF).

Air Vice-Marshal Smart joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as a medical undergraduate in 1985 and continues to serve as a RAAF medical officer. She has had operational experience in Rwanda, Timor Leste, the Middle East and Lebanon. She was awarded a Chief of Air Force Commendation for her role in a fatal air accident investigation in Malaysia.

Air Vice-Marshal Smart assumed the role of Strategic Health Coordination in January 2013, with responsibility for policy development, research coordination, military medical advice, the Australian Army Malaria Institute, the Australian Defence Force Family Health Program, and the development and implementation of the Defence eHealth System.

Air Vice-Marshal Smart was made a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC, MG

Corporal Ben Roberts-SmithBen Roberts-Smith served with distinction in the Australian Army and Special Air Service Regiment. His service includes operational deployments to East Timor, Fiji, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Ben is a recipient of the highest award in the Australian military honours system, the Victoria Cross for Australia, awarded in 2011 for the most conspicuous gallantry in action in circumstances of extreme peril in Afghanistan.

Ben is Patron of the White Cloud Foundation and Wandering Warriors, and a member of the Queensland Veterans Advisory Council.

Since retiring from the Armed Forces, Ben has been a leading strategic advisor to Government and industry on a broad range of defence, security and personnel issues.

Ryan Kerry Stokes

Ryan StokesMr Ryan Stokes is Chief Executive Officer of Australian Capital Equity Pty Limited (ACE) and Chief Operating Officer of Seven Group Holdings Limited. He is also a Director of Seven West Media, WesTrac Pty Limited, Iron Ore Holdings Limited (IOH) and has extensive experience in China, having developed relationships with various mining and media companies over the past 13 years.

Ryan is Chairman of the National Library of Australia, a position he has held since July 2012 and is a Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Ryan is the former Chairman of Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation (Headspace), a Federal Government initiative established in 2006. He was also a former member of the International Olympic Committee’s Radio and Television Commission.

Ms Kate Pope PSM

Kate PopeKate joined the Department of Immigration as a graduate in 1987 after completing a Bachelor of Arts (Asian Studies) degree at the Australian National University. Over the next 10 years, Kate was posted to Indonesia, Vietnam and Poland as an Australian Immigration Officer and completed a Masters’ Degree in International Development Policy at Duke University in the United States.

Kate served almost 30 years with the Department of Immigration, working principally in refugee resettlement, children’s policy and detention, before moving to the Department of Health for a year and then to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in 2015. Until recently, Kate led the Transformation Division in DVA, focussing on veteran centric reform and organisational change. At the end of 2018, Kate moved to Veteran Services Design Division to work on policy reform and innovation.

Kate received the Public Service Medal in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Dr Jenny Firman

Dr Jenny FirmanDr Jenny Firman completed her medical degree at University of Melbourne and while a student joined the Royal Australian Navy. Over the next 22 years was posted to a range of positions in Navy and the ADF including sea time, involvement in underwater medicine, general practice and later development of strategic and operational health policy for the ADF. 

She left full time Service in 2002 and transitioned to the Reserve. A that time she was appointed as the first Chief Medical Officer for the newly outsourced Defence Force Recruiting organisation where she remained until 2007 when she moved to the Department of Health where she worked as the Principal Medical Adviser in the Office of Health Protection. In this role she was responsible for the provision of medical and scientific advice to assist in the work of the Department and the Australian Government in communicable disease control and health emergencies. Additionally, throughout her career, she has continued to regularly work part time in general practice.

In 2008 she was appointed as Director General - Navy Health Reserve and performed that role until 2012. In February 2015, she was promoted to Rear Admiral and appointed as Surgeon General Australian Defence Force Reserve.

She was appointed as the Chief Health Officer, Principal Medical Adviser in DVA in February 2019.

Mr Donald Garry Spinks, AM

Don SpinksDon Spinks, AM was born, raised and educated in the Upper Hunter Valley, New South Wales. He enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in January 1979 and on completion of Basic Recruit Training he was assigned to the Royal Australian Armoured Corps.

He was promoted to Warrant Officer Class One in 1999 and in 2000 he was selected to attend the United States (US) Army Sergeants Majors Academy, Fort Bliss, Texas where he completed the US Army Sergeants Major and the Command Sergeant Majors Courses. He then served as an instructor at the academy the following year. For his service with the Sergeants Majors Academy he was awarded the United States Army Meritorious Service Medal.

His Regimental Sergeant Major appointments include: 2nd Cavalry Regiment 2003-2004, Multi National Force and Observers - Sinai Egypt 2004, Royal Australian Armoured Corps 2005-2007, 1st Brigade 2008-2009, Joint Task Force 633 on Operation Slipper in 2010 and Forces Command – Army 2011-2014.

In July 2015, he assumed the appointment of 10th Regimental Sergeant Major of the Australian Army. He completed this role in Jul 2018 and transitioned from Army in September 2018.

In 2010, Don completed the Army Single Service component of the Australian Command and Staff College Course at the Australian War College. In 2015, he completed the Company Directors Course (NFP).

In January 2007, he was awarded the Medal for the Order of Australia for meritorious service to the Royal Australian Armoured Corps and to the Multi-National Force and Observers - Sinai. In June 2018, he was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia for exceptional service to soldiering within the Australian Defence Force in senior Regimental Sergeant Major appointments, culminating in the appointment of Regimental Sergeant Major of the Army.

In February 2019, Don was appointed as a Commissioner in the Repatriation Commission with the Department of Veteran Affairs and in July 2019 he commenced the role of Repatriation Commissioner.

Don is married to Jen and he has two children and six grandchildren. He is a keen Rugby supporter and he enjoys the outdoors and travel.

Major General Mark Kelly AO, DSC

Major General Mark KellyMajor General Mark Kelly is the Repatriation Commissioner in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Mark served in a number of senior command appointments during an Army career spanning over 35 years, including Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, Commander 3rd Brigade, Commander 1st Division, Land Commander Australia and Commander Joint Task Force 633 (CJTF 633).

His operational experience includes service with the Commonwealth Monitoring Force in Zimbabwe/Rhodesia (1979-80), Chief of Staff of the International Force in East Timor (1999-2000), with US CENTCOM in the Middle East, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and Iraq (2003-2004) and as CJTF 633 commanding all ADF elements in the Middle East Area of Operations, Iraq and Afghanistan (2009-10).

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