ACT Veterans Advisory Council


Terms of Reference

The Veterans’ Advisory Council (VAC) comprises community members with a material interest in issues affecting the veterans’ community in the Australian Capital Territory and provides advice to the ACT Government about matter relating to the veterans’ community.

If you have a query about the VAC, or would like to bring an issue to the VAC’s attention, please contact the Secretariat on (02) 6205 4286 or send an email to communityparticipation@act.gov.au.

Biographies
Brigadier Alison Creagh CSC (Ret'd) (Chair)
Mr Gerard Pratt (Deputy Chair)
Major General D.H. Chalmers AO CSC (Member)
Mr Chad Hodgens (Member)
Ms Pat McCabe OAM (Member)
Pilot Officer Shaun McGill (Member)
Ms Suzanne McGuiness-Butler (Member)
Mr Rob Marshall (Member)
Mr David Munro (Member)
Squadron Leader Gary Oakley (Member)
Dr Kathryn Spurling (Member)

Brigadier Alison Creagh CSC (Ret'd) (Chair)

Brigadier Alison Creagh was appointed to Chair the ACT Veterans' Advisory Council in September 2017. She is a Member of the Australian War Memorial Council, Non-Executive Director of The Hospital Research Foundation and The Road Home, Chair of the Board of Governors for The Road Home, and Vice Chair of the Australian Peacekeeping Memorial Project. Brigadier Creagh is a member of the ACT Defence Industry Advisory Board and a member of the AustCyber Canberra Node Industry Advisory Group and is an Adjunct Lecturer and research academic at the University of New South Wales Canberra in Cyber Security.

Brigadier Creagh retired from the Australian Regular Army in March 2015 after a 30-year career and continues to serve in the Army Reserve.

Brigadier Creagh served on operations in Cambodia East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan and is passionate about supporting and representing the interests of the veteran community.

Mr Gerard Pratt (Deputy Chair)

Mr Gerard Pratt is the current Manager for Visitor Services at the Australian War Memorial, a position he has occupied for over three years. He first joined the Memorial in November 2005 following his service in the Royal Australian Navy which included operational deployments to East Timor, on Border Protection and to Iraq.

Mr Pratt has played an active role in the veteran community within the ACT having served in an executive capacity at both a sub-branch and state branch level of the Returned and Services League of Australia since 2004. Through his work and voluntary roles, Mr Pratt routinely engages with veterans and their families to better understand the issues of importance to them. He was first appointed to the Veterans’ Advisory Council in April 2017 to fill a casual membership vacancy and was subsequently reappointed in October 2017 to the role of Deputy Chair.

Major General D.H. Chalmers AO CSC (Member)

Major General Dave Chalmers joined the Australian Army in 1977 and was commissioned into the Royal Australian Armoured Corps from Royal Military College. After a variety of appointments in tank and cavalry units, he commanded a reconnaissance regiment in 1997/98. He was National Commander on operations in East Timor in 2001/2002, commanded the 7th Brigade in 2004/05, and the Australian Defence Force relief effort following the Boxing Day 2004 Tsunami.

In 1997 Major General Chalmers was awarded a Conspicuous Service Cross for his work on the Army 21 Review. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2003 for his service in East Timor and promoted to become an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2006 for distinguished service in Sumatra. After commanding the Northern Territory Emergency Response in 2007/08 Major General Chalmers transferred to the Australian Public Service in 2010. Subsequently he served in Indigenous Affairs and Veterans’ Affairs, most recently as First Assistant Secretary Commemorations and War Graves. Major General Chalmers is married to Nerrilee and has four adult children.

Mr Chad Hodgens (Member)

Mr Chad Hodgens is the Director Regional Security Issues in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, prior to which he served in the Department of Defence in the fields of intelligence, capability, strategic policy, and reform. Before joining the Australian Public Service Mr Hodgens served in the Australian Army, during which time he deployed to Bougainville, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a former national champion in the sport of formation skydiving, having proudly represented Australia with his team at the World Championships in 2004.

Mr Hodgens has a strong commitment to influencing Government policy that supports current and former-serving members of the Australian Defence Force, emergency service first-responders and their families.

Ms Pat McCabe OAM (Member)

Ms McCabe is the National and ACT President of the Totally & Permanently Incapacitated Ex-Servicemen & Women’s Association. She is also associated with a number of Ex-Service Organisations in the ACT. She has 11 years’ experience in issues pertaining to the Veteran Community. She aims to ensure the objectives of the various Associations are met through the resources available via the Federal and ACT Governments and also from within Veteran organisations.

Ms McCabe is a part of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs consultative forums including aged care for the older Veterans, Female Veterans & Families, Veteran training programs for the younger Veterans and Dental, Hearing and Allied Health Services. Ms McCabe has been a member of the ACT Veterans’ Advisory Council since 2013 and has participated in all three of the ACT Older Person’s Assemblies.

Pilot Officer Shaun McGill (Member)

Pilot Officer Shaun McGill is currently serving in the Royal Australian Air Force, joining in 1991. He has undertaken a variety of positions throughout his career. One notable achievement included being awarded 37 Squadron Airman of the Year in 2009.

He has been an active member in the ex-service community by seeking to promote the needs of current and former members of the Australian Defence Force, and engaging with ESOs to help improve the delivery of services provided to veterans. He has also undertaken many roles to raise awareness of mental health in the veteran community.

Pilot Officer McGill is married with two school-age girls. He has first-hand experience of the challenges faced by Defence families. He is currently RSL Gungahlin sub-Branch Deputy President as well as undertaking a Bachelor of Business at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

Ms Suzanne McGuiness-Butler (Member)

Suzanne Mc Guinness Butler is the Veteran Liaison Officer at Calvary Public Hospital and Calvary Bruce Private Hospital. She is a registered nurse and obtained her registration at Saint Laurence’s Hospital in Dublin, Ireland.

Ms Mc Guinness Butler has specialised in intensive care and coronary care nursing, diabetes education, community health and palliative care nursing. She moved to Australia in 1984 to take up a position in the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital intensive care unit.

Ms Mc Guinness Butler strives for excellence in care, working with veterans and their families to ensure their ongoing health and social requirements are met during their stay in hospital.

Mr Rob Marshall (Member)

Mr Rob Marshall served in the Australian Army from 1989-1997 and then in the Army Reserve during 2001-2002. Mr Marshall’s family has four generations of military service in the UK and Australia. Since his time worked in the military, he has also worked in IT, Education and Human Resources.

Mr Marshall’s interest in Veterans' issues came about through his employment with Soldier On as the National Services Director. Although not working for the charity currently, Mr Marshall maintains a keen interest in issues that impact Veterans and their families. He is passionate about the power of community and physical fitness as avenues of helping enhance well-being.

Mr David Munro (Member)

Mr Dave Munro is a former soldier from the Royal Australian Corps of Signals who deployed to Rifle Company Butterworth, Malaysia in 1982 with 8/9th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment. After leaving the military Mr Munro continued in communications working as a Flight Service Officer with the then Civil Aviation Authority. Mr Munro still works for the same company, now Airservices Australia, as a Line Manager in the Network Coordination Centre in Civic. Married to a former soldier, Mr Munro and his wife have raised six children, two of whom served in the Army with one completing two tours of Afghanistan. Mr Munro continues his involvement with the veteran community as a member of the Gungahlin Sub-Branch of the RSL and as a member of the Veterans Motorcycle Club, Federal Chapter.

Squadron Leader Gary Oakley (Member)

Squadron Leader Gary Oakley is the National President of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Veterans and Service Association of Australia. He served in the Royal Australian Navy from 1969 until 1991 and worked at the Australian War Memorial in National Collections and Gallery Development from 1991 until 2015. He is currently serving in the Royal Australian Air Force as Indigenous Historical Custodian, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Programs in the Directorate of Organisational Behaviour and Culture.

Dr Kathryn Spurling (Member)

Dr Kathryn Spurling served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRANS). She is the widow of Cmdr Nigel Spurling (RAN rtd) and the mother of LCDR Ashley Spurling (RAN rtd). Her father served with the Royal Australian Air Force and her brother in the fulltime Citizen Military Forces. She taught history and strategic studies at UNSW at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

Dr Spurling has been a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University; a Visiting Summer Fellow at the United States Military Academy and is currently an Adjunct Associate, Flinders University. She has written and lectured in Australia and overseas extensively on women in the military, military history, military welfare and peacekeeping.

Top