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Salutations from the ACT SASA Team and the wider and diverse membership here in the National Capital. The first half of 2024 has seen a relatively active and engaging program of internal events as well as an increase in collaboration and more codified formal engagement with kindred Veteran’s and ESO communities within and across ACT and southern NSW. 

 Due to the nature of the ACT Branch membership and proximity, the ACT Branch Executive leadership enjoys useful access and connections with contemporary and recently serving members of SASR and SOHQ.  

This relationship building and wider understanding of veteran’s real world lived experience challenges will continue to be important in the lead up to the release of the RCDVS report and the opportunity to inform and support/enable key recommendations and follow on initiatives such as restorative justice and restoring integrity and prestige to ADF Honors and Awards for battlefield decorations - by specifying and codifying the required Command and leadership criterion. This is essential to stop further damage and re-establish trust and respect between the senior ADF / Defence leadership and the SOF veteran community 

An update on recent events and the ACT Branch priorities for planning and outreach is provided below:

Theme 1

Celebrate. Our ‘Special’ lived experiences and shared Service.

In the lead up to the SASR 60th Anniversary in early September 24. A growing number of the ACT group are discussing plans and very much looking forward to joining the broad celebrations and attending the Wanders Ball. The week will include what promises to be a very purposeful and proactive agenda for the ASAS National Executive AGM. 

FIG JAM for the successful completion of the third iteration of the Taipan Long Rang Recon Ride #TLR3 / AKA the Jim Truscott Memorial Ride #JTMR. Conducted by a group of Pilgrims as planned 12- 16 April 24 – Balranald to Mungo Lake return Loop 260km  = 4xdays + 3 nights on task.

  • The support vehicles with trailers were a sustain and now essential for any future similar activities – No going back to sleeping on the ground or lugging water bladders on the bike.

  • The consensuses at the ENDEX BBQ at Harry’s place in Balranald (Secure FOB and POE) was that ‘the adventure exceeded expectations ‘and the storytelling of reflections and recollections of Jim - AKA Taipan - over the campfire at the first night site will always be a massive highlight.

  • All the fun and fumbles, as well as the amazing vistas were superbly captured on drone and still images by Rus Baker. These stunning images and video footage of the JTMR will soon be available and accessible via the ACT ASAS website.

ANZAC Dinner at the Commonwealth Club was again very strongly attended (60) and this semi formal ‘dining-in ‘type experience with an esteemed after Dinner speaker,  remains the Flagship annual event for ACT Branch. 

  • This year retired MAJGEN Mark Brewer, a senior executive in DVA and a member of the Repatriation Board, was an informative, entertaining and thought-provoking speaker.

  • An increasing and very healthy proportion of the attendees were ‘young contemporary’ individuals and their partners’. This serving cohort representation bodes very well for the future of this event (and the ACT Branch renewal) and illustrates the attraction of an important ‘celebratory ritual’ type of Special occasion in a superb venue, with the appropriate context and program for the evening.

ANZAC Day March was another opportunity to gather, remember, commemorate and honor our Special Shared Service with a solid turn out. The ACT contingent march was led by former SAS OC and now retired, MAJGEN Brian Dawson, in recognition of Brian’s superb and ongoing leadership in the AWM redevelopment plan. 2024 was the first time the new AWM Parade ground was utilized for the March Past and salute from Reviewing VVIP – this year it was the GG.

The anniversary of the 12 Jun 96 Blackhawk disaster was recognised this year by the ACT Branch with a well attended ‘Special solemn and very emotional storytelling reflections’ and Calling the ‘Roll of the Fallen’ service  at  the Rose Garden Memorial in the Veterans Park located in the the center of the Canberra CBD. This was followed by a wonderful social celebration of shared service.  

Theme 2

Communicate. A creative campaign of positive storytelling. 

We continue to expand and improve the Australian Capital Territory | Australian SAS Association thanks to Vicki from Wicked Web Digital.

As part of the commemoration of the 12 Jun 96 Blackhawk disaster, The ACT Branch were invited to honor the service of CAPT Tim Stevens (RIP), by  attending the Officer Commissioning graduating Class prizes and awards Ceremony on 24 Jun. I had the massive thrill of being invited to  participate with Tim's sister - Ms Caitlyn Cleary - in the presentation of the T.J. Stevens Cup. 

  • This  prestigious award recognizes "the graduate who formerly served as a soldier (as Tim did in 1 RAR) and best exemplifies the Military Ethic

  • The military ethic at RMC requires character and conduct consistent with Loyalty. Integrity, Responsibility etc. 

  • Images will soon to be available at Australian Capital Territory | Australian SAS Association

AS 'Golden Road - Re-Booted=Reunion’; 1984 SAS Selection Course 40th Reunion; #BFGR40 #SASGoldenRoadReunion

  • planning has commenced for a reunion activity to coincide with the SASR Beret presentation currently planned for December 24 at Campbell Barracks. More specific details on the program and the sequence of events in the lead up to the Beret presentation will be confirmed as soon as practicable, (when the Unit determines the actual date) and promulgated via the ACT website and the associated mailing list 

The ACT Branch has submitted a “Saluting Their Service” Grant to DVA, seeking funding for as exciting project in partnership with Jeff Hughes CEO of the team at

  • The concept is to use the existing 40-year-old award winning documentary titled The Battle for the Golden Road which is a dated but unique insight into the conduct of the 1984 SAS selection course. It follows the group through to the awarding of the SAS Sandy Beret. 

  • The project will identify key characters from the 84 selection and develop specific human-interest stories demonstrating their Service over the intervening 40 year period. It will produce 8-10 episodes podcasts that will consist of Interviews with main characters, each of 30-45 minutes in duration and incorporate photos and stories from their service and family. These videos will not only commemorate their service but be gifted to families for no cost, to be made accessible to the public.

We await the outcome of the submission and the outline proposal. The accompanying positive storytelling opportunities are detailed in the submission. This detailed information will soon be available at Australian Capital Territory | Australian SAS Association

Theme 3

Connect build and leverage our ‘Special’ networks.

Canberra Services Club (CSC) Barton will be the new home location and primary RV for Events, Happy Hours and ANZAC Day – Post March celebrations.

  • The CSC has commenced an ambitious program to revitalize and refocus the CSC. The program is focused on supporting voluntary organizations, Charities, Associations and like entities. 

  • The ACT Branch is currently finalizing an MOU with the CSC to formalize this arrangement. This detailed information will soon be available at Australian Capital Territory | Australian SAS Association

Way forward + Upcoming Events and Activities

The expanded ‘Point and Shoot’  photography exhibition covering military service focused on modern conflicts provides a rare glimpse into the life and experiences of fellow Australians  and provides a rare glimpse into the life and experiences of fellow Veterans.

Signed electronically = cleared for release

Dan Fortune

President ACT Branch, ASASA

28 June 2024

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