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Veterans’ Advocacy and Support Services Scoping Study

Australian Government

12 December 2019

The veterans’ advocacy system as presently structured will not provide veterans and their families
with a modern professional sustainable advocacy service into the future.

Ex-service organisations have provided an invaluable compensation and wellbeing advocacy service
to veterans and the nation since the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia was
founded over 100 years ago in 1916. As waves of veterans returned from the First World War, the
Second World War and the Korean – Vietnam conflicts, each generation has joined or founded ESOs
to look after their cohort.

Now, if younger veterans join an ex-service organisation, they are more inclined to join a virtual ESO
(such as a Facebook page) or an organisation focused on improving veterans’ health and wellbeing
rather than compensation.

The existing advocacy model, which relies on an aging cohort of volunteers spread among the
branches of the traditional ESOs, is coming to an end. The statistics are compelling: 19% of
advocates accredited under the Advocacy Training and Development Program were born before
1946 and a total of 83.8% before 1965. At the other end of the age spectrum, only 3.9% were born
after 1980 and a number of them are paid advocates employed by the large ESOs.

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