Hi fellow 6RAR - 10th intakers,
You may or may not know I have been lobbying to gain medallic recognition for our group since 1985. It has been a long hard slog over the past 31 years and various submissions have been put forward and subsequently dismissed. In 2013 I was called before a three man panel in Canberra instigated by Defence Honours & Awards Appeals (DHAAT) to explain my position and argue my case. Up to that point I'd been advocating on behalf of all National Servicemen who fought in Vietnam and sent home having served less than 181 days. Ultimately my case was dismissed.
Since that time I have decided to act alone and continued lobbying politicians etc. During that time I devoted considerable time in researching circumstances surrounding our conscription. I was able to obtain copies of Cabinet Papers as well as other documents relative to the National Service Act 1964 from the National Archives.
Armed with a bucket load of fresh material I prepared my fifth submission and sent it to DHAAT in August 2016. Last week I received confirmation that another panel has been specifically set up for me for a hearing. That hearing will be held on 9th December 2016 and I'll need to do it by telephone.
DHAAT engaged the services of the Attorney General and the Australian Government Solicitor to fight me on matters of law. I didn't stand a chance. When I attend the forthcoming hearing I know the Tribunal will have engaged the services of the Department of Defence and its Military Lawyers to discredit my facts and assumptions. I searched for a retired QC to oversee my work on a pro bono basis unfortunately without success. Luckily I've since located a Military Historian who lives in Canberra and he has agreed to act as an observer only at no cost.
If I am successful the Tribunal will prepare a report to the relevant Minister. I think DHAAT may post the results on its website. Also a positive result will open the way for you to reapply for the RVCM. If unsuccessful my only other avenue is to lodge an appeal in the Federal Court of Australia - that will not happen. Mike Rogers will also lodge a separate appeal in due course.
I have been in constant contact with a former Captain of the HMAS Sydney who is also lobbying on behalf of his crew for the RVCM. I have read his submissions. I am also in contact with two RAAF blokes who flew missions over Vietnam from Urbon Thailand. Their claims are not in unison with mine.
As a matter of interest I have constructed a list (about 50) of other National Servicemen who have contacted me, mainly over the past three years, who have served less than 181 days in Vietnam. Among this list are several who served 174 or less days and received their medal in the mail in the early 1980's merely upon confirmation of overseas service from their former CO. The list contains names from most of the nine battalions as well as most other corps. There are three who are afraid to wear the medal because they have been outed by ANZMI despite the fact the medal was approved by Defence and official documentation held. They are all waiting to see if my appeal is successful.
I have support from the National Servicemen's Association of Australia as well as the Vietnam Veterans & Peace Keepers Association (NSW). In addition I set up a petition and to date over 12,500 people have signed it and provided great comments (see change.org). Unfortunately the government does not recognise electronic petitions. Wish me luck.
Best wishes. Richard Barry. ☘
RVCM Update by Richard Barry