How the VVAA is Organised


National Congress

The National Congress is the governing body of the VVAA. The Congress comprises the National Executive, Presidents and one other representative from each State, and Seconded Members. The members of the National Executive and the Seconded Members are non-voting member.

The role of the National congress, which meets once each year, is to consider items of business which are proposed by the State Councils through their links to Sub Branches and individual members, and which set the direction for the organisation over the next twelve months, make such changes to the National Constitution which are considered necessary, and to elect the National Executive.

National Council

The National Council consists of the National Executive, the State Presidents and Seconded Members. The Executive and Seconded Members are not voting members.

The role of the National Council is to give direction to the National Executive of Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia, in accordance with the wishes of the members of the Association delivered through Sub Branch and State Branch and expressed at the annual National Congress. The Council prepares items for discussion at the Congress, and deals with important issues which may arise from time to time throughout the year. It is important in ensuring the VVAA maintains a consistent outlook and direction.

National Executive

The National Executive consists of the National President, National Secretary, National Treasurer, and two Vice Presidents. Their role is to conduct the day-to-day business of the Association in accordance with the directions and guidance of the National Congress and the National Council. Members seek advice from experts in various fields, including members of the VVAA, and particularly the Seconded Members.

From time to time issues arise which have not been discussed at Congress or Council, and in these cases the guiding principles are that the Executive is to attempt to deliver, on behalf of the Association, outcomes which are not inconsistent with our Constitution and Policy Handbook and which are to the greater good of the Vietnam veteran community in particular and the veteran/ex-service communities in general.

Co-opted Members

From time to time members may be co-opted to assist the National Council, particularly when that individual has knowledge or skills which relate to specific issues being addressed at that time by the Council.  In creating co-opted positions the Council is ensuring that important issues remain clearly in the forefront of its deliberations. Creating an Advocates' Network is one example of this. The role of co-opted members has been to some extent overtaken by the Research Officer(s) who undertake research and produce discussion papers for the National Executive and Council

Sub-Branches, State Branches and the National Council

In looking at the role of the National Executive and the National Council, it is necessary to consider the roles and responsibilities of all the parts of the VVAA.

  • Sub-Branches are the life-blood of the VVAA. They provide local welfare, pensions and advocacy help. Through formal and informal meetings as well as social activities, they identify issues which are important to Vietnam veterans, and pass these on to State Branches. At the same time they can request assistance from the State Branch in solving problems, dealing with issues or simply getting information which means that they don't have to reinvent the wheel. Individuals have the opportunity to raise issues of concern through Sub Branches to State Council or National Congress.
  • State Branches co-ordinate the flow of information from Sub-Branches to National, ensuring that issues which concern members are identified and dealt with or passed on to National. They receive and pass on information from National to Sub-Branches. State Committee members will liaise with the State Office of the DVA and other state government departments, and represent the VVAA on committees and at meetings with DVA and Ex-Service Organisations in regard to State issues.
  • The National Council is responsible for representing the members of the VVAA on National issues. This includes representation on Government and Ex-Service Organisation committees and meetings. The advice and guidance of members, through their State Presidents provides policies and guidance for the National Executive in dealing with issues which arise. The Council co-ordinates media responses to ensure that the entire organisation is seen to be acting with one voice.

Achievements of the VVAA through the National Council

The success of this structure is evident to those who look at the notable achievements of the VVAA.  The VVAA as a result of successful lobbying of Governments, the Department of Veterans Affairs and other Ex-service Organisations has been able to ensure the:

  • establishment of the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service (VVCS) in 1982 (Now Open Arms);
  • ongoing monitoring of Open Arms (Formerly VVCS) operations through the National Advisory Committee (NAC)
  • establishment of the Evatt Royal Commission into the use of Herbicides during the Vietnam war
  • successful outcome for the Military Medal nominees under the Vietnam End of War List Review ;
  • successful completion of the Vietnam Veterans' Mortality Study;
  • successful completion of the Vietnam Veterans' Health (Morbidity) Study;
  •   creation of the protocol for the validation of the Health Study;
  •   discussion with DVA on responses to the Health study outcomes and the government’s response;
  •   commencement of a scientific study into the genetic effects of Agent White;
  •   long-delayed review of the Repatriation Medical Authority was undertaken;
  •   proper consideration of the proposed Second Opinion diagnostic protocols for psychiatric disorders;
  •   review of service-related use of alcohol and tobacco;
  •   institution of the VVAA Web Site and electronic mail exchange;
  •   establishment of the Men's Health Peer Education Program and promotion of healthy lifestyles;
  •   contribution to and an ongoing commitment to the Training and Information Program (TIP) and the Advocacy Training and Development Program (ATDP);
  •   development of the "Right Mix - Your Health and Alcohol" campaign through active participation in the Alcohol Management project and associated reference groups;
  •   contribution to the development of PTSD treatment guidelines for Post Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) with the Australian Centre for Post Traumatic Mental health (ACPMH);
  •   contribution to the development of the Alcohol treatment guidelines in conjunction with ACPMH, VVCS (Now Open Arms) and reference groups;
  •   development of the new Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004
  •   conduct of Peak Ex-service Organisation summits in 2003 and 2004
  •   conduct of the feasibility study of a health study for Sons and Daughters of Vietnam Veterans;
  •   establishment of the National Metal Health and Wellbeing forum (NMHWF);
  •   initiation of numerous Younger Veterans Programs via the VVCS (Now Open Arms);
  •   funding of support groups under DVA's grants programs;
  •   $32.3m to support the extension of benefits for veterans, partners and children in 2000;
  •   ongoing care of Sons and Daughters of Vietnam veterans by Open Arms (Formerly VVCS)
  •   founding member of the Veterans' Indemnity and Training Association;
  •   assistance to government in shaping policy on veterans issues via participation on 14 separate National and State committees; and
  •   continuous recognition of the VVAA as the representative of the Vietnam veterans' community.

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