Members of the Victorian Veterans Council

Lists members of the Victorian Veterans Council during the annual reporting period July 2022 – June 2023.

Commodore Greg Yorke, AM, CSC, Chair

(Appointed 15 February 2022)

Greg was appointed chair of Victorian Veterans Council in February 2022. Greg is a part-time member of the Royal Australian Navy and holds the position of Senior Naval Officer Victoria. He brings a wealth of experience in the navy and the Department of Defence.

Greg joined the navy in January 1974, rising to the rank of Commodore in June 2016. He has worked as a Principal Warfare Officer in the Executive Branch, having completed many sea postings including exchange in HMS Liverpool and his two most successful commands, HMAS Gladstone, a Fremantle class patrol boat, and HMAS Arunta, an ANZAC class frigate.

He was awarded a Conspicuous Service Cross for his leadership role as Chief Staff Officer (Operations) Maritime Headquarters during Operation Falconer (Iraq 2) in 2003 and was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Greg also had a successful second career as a management consultant during a 10-year absence from the navy and has been a non-executive director on the board of the Australian National Veterans Arts Museum since 2017.

Lieutenant Commander Pelagia Markogiannakis, Deputy Chair

(Appointed 6 February 2018, Appointed Deputy Chair 29 January 2020)

Pela has been a navy reservist since 1986 and has attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander. She has had a variety of logistics, engineering and infrastructure-related roles.

Pela is an engineer and certified project professional. She has been the Aide-de-Camp in Waiting to His Excellency the Governor of New South Wales and the His Excellency the Administrator of the Commonwealth of Australia. She is currently serving as a reservist.

Dan Cairnes

(Appointed 8 June 2021)

Dan served in the Australian Regular Army as an artillery officer where he fulfilled a range of regimental, operational and training appointments. The majority of his service was with the 8th/12th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery.

His operational deployments include Iraq (Operation Catalyst) and border protection (Operation Relex II). On leaving the army, Dan entered the construction industry where he has worked in trade and management roles on building and infrastructure projects. Dan is a graduate of the Royal Military College, Duntroon and RMIT University.

John McNeill

(Appointed 3 November 2021)

John has had extensive involvement in the veteran family advocacy and support space for the past 10 years as a qualified advocate. He served as a rifleman with the First Battalion and served in East Timor in 2007.

John has battled his own medical constraints post service and now supports others needing assistance throughout Australia to help them transition after service.

John holds positions on state and national boards such as the Deputy Commissioner’s Forum and the Operational Working Party. He is also a Level 3 Compensation Advocate with the Victorian Veterans Advocacy Centre.

John’s extensive involvement extends further by being the director of a social enterprise – Aussie Veterans Pty Ltd – established in Melbourne in 2017. 

Bruce Mildenhall

(Appointed 7 August 2018)

Bruce is not a veteran but has broad experience and strong personal interest in the veteran sector. He is currently involved in commemorative activities as chair of the Mt Macedon ANZAC Dawn Service and has assisted as support rider in the Vietnam Veteran Vetride. Bruce’s father was a Rat of Tobruk and his maternal grandfather an officer in the ANZAC Light Horse.

As a former State MP and Parliamentary Secretary for Veterans’ Affairs, Bruce helped draft Victoria’s veterans’ legislation, the Veterans Act 2005, and led the first Premier’s Spirit of Anzac Prize tour to the Western Front.

Jo-Anne O’Brien

(Appointed 17 May 2022)

Jo-Anne is a member of the ex-service community as a surviving partner and widow of a veteran. She has significant knowledge and lived experience of veterans’ welfare and the needs of veterans’ surviving partners and families. Jo-Anne was nominated to become a member of the VVC by Warrnambool Legacy Club.

In addition to her knowledge of veterans’ welfare issues, Jo-Anne brings to the VVC significant experience working in the community and local government sectors relating to tourism and economic and community development, as well as a number of volunteer roles including with Rotary and the Country Fire Authority.

Lucy Saaroni

(Appointed 8 February 2022)

Lucy is a risk management professional and a veteran with a passion for community resilience building.

As a public affairs officer with the Australian Army, Lucy has deployed on warlike military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and has also supported politico-military missions in the Gulf States and North West Africa.

Working in the Office of the Defence Attaché at the Australian Embassy in France between 2008 and 2013, Lucy had the privilege of supporting large-scale multinational military commemorative ceremonies including the reburial of 250 Australian and British World War One soldiers at the Fromelles Military Cemetery and planning the ANZAC Centenary Commemorations in France.

In 2018 Lucy was awarded the Australia Day Medallion for service to Defence and Indigenous Communities.

With qualifications and extensive experience in risk management, strategic communications and community engagement, Lucy has held senior advisory and executive management roles in local and state government.

Simon Thorn

(Appointed 20 September 2022)

Simon is a former commissioned Australian Regular Army Officer who served in a wide variety of operational roles including in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since leaving Defence, he has held senior roles at the Office of Police Integrity and the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission. He has been the senior executive responsible for regulating the apprenticeship and vocational education and training (VET) sectors in Victoria and was a senior executive with the Commonwealth VET regulator. Simon is currently working as a consultant.

Simon is a State Executive member of the Victorian Returned and Services League, where he chairs the Risk, Audit and Governance Committee. He is passionate about ensuring veterans are supported through sound policy and that ex-service organisations are supported to deliver in an ever-changing environment.

He holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of New South Wales, a Master of Business Administration from Latrobe University, is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and an ANZSOG Executive Fellow. 

Ken Tsirigotis

(Appointed 25 August 2020)

Ken completed 22 years of service in the Australian Regular Army in the Royal Australian Infantry Corps with the majority of his service as a reconnaissance soldier at the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (Parachute). His overseas service has included exchanges and regimental duties to Indonesia, New Zealand, France, Belgium, Thailand, the UK and Switzerland.

Operational experiences include International Forces East Timor (1999–2000), United Nations Transitional Authority East Timor (2002), Timor-Leste Battle Group Three as part of the Ready Company Group deployment (2008), Timor-Leste Battle Group Four (2008) and Operation Slipper as a Mobile Mentoring Team Commander in the Uruzgan Province Afghanistan (2012).

Ken has been awarded various Australian Defence Force (ADF) awards including the Soldiers Medallion for Exemplary Service, Commander 1st Division Commendation (Bronze), Deputy Chief of Joint Operations Commendation (Bronze) and ADF Commendation (Silver).

Ken transferred from the Australian Regular Army in 2016 taking up employment with Melbourne Legacy and has held various roles, most recently as the Chief Operating Officer where he manages the engagement supporting service delivery operations of the organisation.

Brett West

(Appointed 20 September 2022)

Brett is a Yamatji man and veteran of the ADF, serving 30 years with the Royal Australian Air Force including operational service and tours in the Middle East. 

Brett’s roles in the ADF related to ordnance safety, training and maintenance and explosive ordnance disposal, as well as later roles on policies and programs relating to Indigenous recruitment and retention, community engagement and mentoring. 

Since leaving the ADF in 2017, Brett has worked with the Victorian Government’s Department of Education in roles focusing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and training. 

Brett was appointed to the VVC in 2022 and is a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans and Services Association. 

Glen Ferrarotto

(Member from 7 December 2021 to 19 September 2022.)

Anita Hogan

(Member from 24 March 2020 to 23 March 2023.)