How a position of respect for veterans’ service has shaped the transformation of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs | Liz Cosson AM CSC
Liz Cosson AM CSC, Secretary, Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Liz Cosson AM CSC, Secretary, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, was recently interviewed by David Pembroke, Founder and CEO of contentgroup, for the Work with Purpose podcast.
For more than 30 years Liz served in the Australian Army where she reached the rank of Major General. She was recognised for her service in 2001 when she was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross for outstanding achievement as the Chief of Staff, Monitoring Group, Bougainville, and in logistic planning and management of the Combat Force as the Staff Officer Grade One Logistics, Land Headquarters.
In 2010 Liz started her career in the Australian Public Service and was appointed to her current role in 2018.
During the interview Liz spoke about the transformation that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has been undergoing.
‘For the last few years we have been transforming, because we have heard from our veteran community that we needed to change. The view being that we didn’t know them, we didn’t understand the nature of service. We weren’t connecting them to the right support. We weren’t respecting their service.
And we’ve put in incredible efforts through our veteran-centric reform, engaging with our veteran community and talking to them, and listening, and learning from that.’
Liz recalled how the media attention and calls for a Royal Commission at the beginning of 2019 shaped her Department’s response.
‘I expressed my commitment to the veteran community.
I see that our role in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is an extension of your military service.
And I see my role as the Secretary, is an extension of my military service. I am here to support those who have served our nation. Given that our Australian Defence Force is a volunteer force, we need as a department to recognise that service and the sacrifice that many give to our country.
And there had been a huge divide between Defence and DVA, and that’s now closed.’
Liz acknowledged that the Department has more to do and she wants to do that with the veteran community. One area of focus is in working closely with the newly appointed National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention, Dr Bernadette Boss CSC, to find solutions to the problem of veteran suicide.
‘I can read stories about what we’re doing wrong, but I really want to hear solutions on how we can get it right.
I certainly don’t accept the suicide rate — it’s not acceptable and we need to be doing more for our veteran community.’
Liz also spoke about how the Department supported veterans through the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of applying flexibility to staff working arrangements and maintaining cultural change through 2020 and beyond.
WORK WITH PURPOSE is produced in partnership between contentgroup and IPAA ACT, with the support of the Australian Public Service Commission.
The podcast can be accessed from the link below and is also available on Spotify, SoundCloud and iTunes.