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Sep 08

Media Releases

Australia

The Hon Dan Tehan MP

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

 

11 May 2017

2016 Client Satisfaction Survey results support client centric reform

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said the $166.6 million provided in this year’s Budget to implement the first stage of modernising the Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ (DVA) processes and IT system would improve client satisfaction with DVA as results of the 2016 Client Satisfaction Survey were released today.

The 2016 Client Satisfaction Survey of more than 3,000 randomly selected DVA clients, including veterans, war widows/ers, carers and dependants, found an overall satisfaction rating with DVA services of 83%.

Mr Tehan said the survey had found DVA needed to continue addressing the specific needs and concerns of younger veterans, especially during their transition from the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to civilian life.

“The Government is committed to improving the DVA claims process for veterans and making the transition to civilian life for ADF personnel as stress-free as possible,” Mr Tehan said.

“That’s why in this year’s Budget the Government provided $166.6 million to deliver better support and services for veterans, underpinned by digital access, streamlined processes and modern technology.

“We also provided $2.7 million to support the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program that will help ADF personnel find post-service employment that utilises their unique talents.”

Results from the 2016 survey are available on the DVA website at www.dva.gov.au/client-satisfaction-survey.

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9 May 2017

Mental health support for veterans and their families, and medical coverage for veterans of nuclear testing

The Government will expand the range of mental health conditions current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members can seek treatment for on a non-liability basis as part of the 2017–18 Budget.

The Government will also provide a Gold Card to cover the health care costs of the surviving participants of the British Nuclear Test program in Australia in the 1950s and 1960s and veterans who served as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF). The Government has allocated $133.1 million for this initiative to cover eligible veterans.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said this year’s Budget represented a significant increase in funding of $350 million in support of veterans and demonstrated the Government’s commitment to the men and women who defend our nation.

“The Government is focused on responding to the mental health needs of our former ADF personnel and providing support that will help them to achieve a fulfilling post service life,” Mr Tehan said.

“In last year’s Budget, we made treatment for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and drug and alcohol misuse free for anyone who had served a day in the full-time ADF.

“The $33.5 million expansion of the non-liability health care program to cover all mental health conditions announced in tonight’s Budget recognises that the earlier a veteran gets treatment, the better the health and other outcomes. This includes access to the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS).

“Importantly, a veteran does not have to prove their mental health condition is related to their service. The funding for mental health treatment is demand-driven and not capped – if an eligible person requires treatment, it will be paid for.”

Mr Tehan said the Government understands that partners, families and former partners of veterans are affected by military service. In recognition of this, the Budget will provide $8.5 million to expand eligibility for VVCS.

“The partners and children of our contemporary veterans, who have had one day of full-time service, will have access to the services and support provided by VVCS, including counselling and group programs,” Mr Tehan said.

“Former partners of ADF personnel will also be able to access VVCS up to five years after a couple separates or while co-parenting a child under the age of 18.

“VVCS is the frontline mental health service for those in the veteran community and is a vital service that saves lives. It is available 24/7 on 1800 011 046.”

Mr Tehan said that as an initial step in the Government’s response to the National Mental Health Commission’s report into suicide prevention services, and our broader commitment to addressing mental health issues, it was providing $9.8 million to pilot new approaches to suicide prevention and improve care and support available to veterans.

“The Mental Health Clinical Management Pilot will assess the benefits of providing intensive clinical management to help meet a veteran’s complex mental health and social needs on discharge from a mental health hospital,” Mr Tehan said.

“We will also pilot an expansion of the successful Coordinated Veterans’ Care (CVC) program to improve support for veterans with both chronic physical and mental health conditions as a result of their service.”

Mr Tehan said the Government would provide $2.7 million for the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program, launched in November last year.

“The money will be used to support the recently established Industry Advisory Committee, create an Ex-Service Organisation Industry partnership register and develop and manage the annual Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards.

“The Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program is about helping business appreciate the unique skills former ADF members can bring to a job. Helping our former Defence personnel find meaningful post-service careers is one of the best ways we can honour their service and sacrifice.”

Mr Tehan said funding of $166.6 million would be provided in this year’s Budget to implement the first stage of Veteran Centric Reform to modernise the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) antiquated ICT systems to provide easier access to DVA services.

“This is a significant investment to improve how the Department meets the needs of its clients and is a critical part of bringing DVA’s ICT into the 21st century,” Mr Tehan said.

“As part of this, DVA will implement a suite of initiatives to support members to successfully transition out of the ADF, such as conducting a two-year trial that will allow veterans to access medical treatment while their Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 or Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 claims are processed.

“Veterans and their families have told us there were problems with the way DVA processed claims. We have listened and we have responded with money to deliver better support and services for veterans, underpinned by digital access, streamlined processes and modern technology.”

The Government has committed an additional $19.6 million over two years to support domestic and international commemorative activities for the Anzac Centenary and Century of Service, and the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of the First World War on Remembrance Day, 11 November 2018.

Additional Budget measures for veterans include:

  • $18.0 million as part of the Government’s Energy for the Future Package so more than 235,000 DVA clients will receive a one-off payment for energy bills
  • $9.1 million for accelerated access to rehabilitation services, streamlined access to Incapacity Payments, and improved access to the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated disability pension for veterans working past the age of 65
  • $1.2 million to continue the income support bonus for DVA clients receiving an Education Allowance under either the Veterans’ Children Education Scheme (VCES), or the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act Education and Training Scheme (MRCAETS)
  • $5.0 million to develop a first pass business case for the Australian War Memorial to examine ways to provide additional exhibition space.

 

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8 May 2017

Victory in Europe remembered 72 years on

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said Australians would reflect on the 72nd anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, which marked the end of the Second World War hostilities in Europe.

“Fighting in Europe and the Mediterranean came at a great cost to Australia with some 10,000 lives lost, almost 10,000 wounded and almost 8,000 prisoners of war,” Mr Tehan said.

“Australian men and women served in European and the Mediterranean theatres from the beginning of hostilities in September 1939 and while the majority were re-deployed to the Pacific after Japan entered the war, many Australians continued to fight in the European theatre until Germany’s surrender.

“We must never forget the significance of victory in Europe and the service and sacrifice of the men and women who made it happen.”

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4 May 2017

Increased reimbursement for medical expenses

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today said veterans could now claim up to $1,000 reimbursement for medical expenses when they have applied to the Veterans’ Review Board (VRB) or the Specialist Medical Review Council (SMRC) review process.

Mr Tehan said the reimbursement amount had been increased from $467.50 to $1,000 for each medical condition to encourage the early submission of medical evidence.

“This measure fulfils another election commitment and will encourage veterans applying for a review at the VRB to get any necessary medical evidence as soon as possible to help speed up the review process,” Mr Tehan said.

“Increasing the amount that can be reimbursed will ensure those applying to the VRB are appropriately remunerated for any relevant out-of-pocket medical expenses incurred as a result of obtaining evidence for VRB hearings.”

“The Government is committed to supporting the veteran community and their families, and this new measure further demonstrates work to strengthen this support.”

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4 May 2017

Supporting Younger Veterans Grants

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today announced $4.25 million for a grants program to support younger veterans.

The Supporting Younger Veterans (SYV) Grants Program will provide $4.25 million over five years to ex-service organisations to encourage partnerships that will deliver innovative and sustainable services for younger veterans.

“The Government recognises the importance of the transition phase for Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel as they leave the military,” Mr Tehan said.

“That is why we have taken steps to make the transition process easier by ensuring all personnel have the appropriate documentation when they leave the ADF and why we launched the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program to help our veterans realise their full skills and potential in their post-service careers.

“This new grant program delivers another election commitment to support the needs of younger veterans as they leave the ADF and will provide resources to raise awareness of the important issues faced by younger veterans.”

Applications for a special round of SYV grants totalling $250,000 will close on 26 May 2017, and successful applicants will be announced in June 2017. Future rounds of the grants will open 1 July each year, commencing 2017, and will close 1 September each year, until 2020.

Applicants can apply for grants through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) website at www.dva.gov.au. Follow the Consultation and Grants/Grants link to the Supporting Younger Veterans section.

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4 May 2017

75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said Australians would remember the service and sacrifice of all those who fought in the Battle of the Coral Sea on its 75th anniversary today.

Mr Tehan said the Battle of the Coral Sea had been one of the defining naval battles of the Second World War in the Pacific.

“The Battle of the Coral Sea was fought in the waters southwest of the Solomon Islands and east of New Guinea between 4 and 8 May 1942,” Mr Tehan said.

“It was the first naval battle in history where the ships of the opposing sides never fired at, or sighted, the other.

“The Battle of the Coral Sea checked Japanese expansion in the Pacific. If the Japanese had been successful they could have landed a force in Port Moresby, cutting Australia-US communications and threatening Australia with invasion. The American commander, General Douglas MacArthur, said the battle ‘undoubtedly saved Australia from a definite and immediate threat’.

“To the men and women of Australia and the United States who saved us from that threat, I offer the thanks of the grateful generations which came after you. On this important anniversary we remember those who fought in that battle. Their efforts in the Battle of the Coral Sea will not be forgotten.”

“Prime Minister will be in the United States to attend the 75th Battle of the Coral Sea commemorations in New York, hosted by the America-Australia Association (AAA).”

The Australian Government has approved a grant of $25,000 to the AAA to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea at a dinner being held on board USS Intrepid on 4 May 2017. Money raised from the dinner will be used to create an American-Australian Veterans’ Scholarship Fund for disabled veterans to pursue undergraduate or postgraduate study and to support directional scholarship grants between our two nations.

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1 May 2017

Letter to the Editor

On May 4 we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea, which has been called, “the battle that saved Australia”.

It was fought in waters north east of Queensland, between the Solomon Islands and the eastern tip of New Guinea between 4 and 8 May 1942, where Australian and American ships halted the Japanese invasion of Papua New Guinea.

No Australians were killed in the battle although almost 550 Americans were killed or wounded and the aircraft carrier USS Lexington sunk.

The battle strengthened the strong bond between Australia and the USA. To honour that bond, the Government has approved $25,000 to support a dinner held on the USS Intrepid on May 4, with all money raised used to create an American-Australian Veterans’ Scholarship Fund for disabled veterans to pursue undergraduate or postgraduate study and to support directional scholarship grants between our two nations.

Lest we forget

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25 April 2017

The Centenary of the Battle of Bullecourt

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs today paid tribute to the Australians who fought and died at the Battle of Bullecourt as he attended a commemoration service to mark the 100th anniversary of the battle.

Some 10,000 Australians were killed or wounded or taken prisoner of war in two battles on 11 April and 3 May against enemy defences at Bullecourt. By the end of 1917 another 60,000 had become casualties.

Almost 300,000 Australians served on the Western Front, where 45,000 lost their lives and more than one-third of those have no known grave.

Mr Tehan today made an address and laid a wreath at an Anzac Day ceremony at the Digger Memorial in Bullecourt.

“In Australia’s wartime history there is no year more tragic than 1917,” Mr Tehan said.

“Here at the Digger Memorial, a symbol of the almost 300,000 Australians who served on the Western Front between 1916 and 1918, we pause to remember the terrible ordeal the Australian Imperial Force and the Australian nation endured a century ago.”

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25 April 2017

Australians commemorate Anzac Day

Australians have honoured the sacrifice of our service men and women at hundreds of Anzac Day ceremonies today throughout the country and around the world.

“For Australian soldiers, the third year of the Great War was the worst they ever experienced,” Mr Tehan said.

“More troops died in battle in 1917 and more were taken prisoner than in any other year. There has never been a year when Australia lost more to war than 1917. And yet they fought on, men asked to take on an extraordinary task.

“And in this darkest year, they did their duty and fought to the bitter end. This is the legacy of 1917 bestowed by those who gave their all. It is a legacy that continues wherever Australian service men and women are deployed.

“In 1917, those who served did not do so for themselves but for us. For a world where a bitter end may mean something greater, something better.

“That our something better was born out of the sacrifice on the Western Front a hundred years ago is something our nation cannot forget.”

If you know of someone who may be finding it difficult at this time of year, please let them know the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service provides free and confidential counselling 24/7 on 1800 011 046.

Lest We Forget.

Estimated attendance at Anzac Day overseas commemorative Dawn Services:

  • 1008 Anzac Day Dawn Service, Gallipoli, Turkey
  • 706 Australian Memorial Service, Lone Pine, Gallipoli, Turkey
  • 2130 Anzac Day Dawn Service, Villers-Bretonneux, France
  • 1017 Anzac Day Services, Belgium
  • 750 Anzac Day Service, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
  • 250 Anzac Day Service, Sandakan, Malaysia
  • 400 Anzac Day Service, Isurava, Papua New Guinea
  • 5400 Anzac Day Dawn Service, Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery, Papua New Guinea
  • 938* The Centenary of the Battle of Bullecourt, France (*the commemorative service will be held at 11pm EAST – the provided number of attendees is an estimate only based on the number of registrations)

Resources

Support for Veterans

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) — 1800 011 046 
VVCS can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for support and free and confidential counselling.

If you would like to connect to VVCS while overseas please call  +61 8 8241 4546 (please note that standard international call costs will apply).

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25 April 2017

Anzac Day 2017

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said on Anzac Day Australians would stop, pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice of those who have defended our nation and our values.

Mr Tehan said Anzac Day 2017 marked the 102nd anniversary of the ANZACs landing at Anzac Cove, beginning an eight-month campaign where more than 50,000 Australians are estimated to have fought, some 8,700 lost their lives and almost 18,000 were wounded.

“Anzac Day is a special day in the life of our country when we reflect on the service and sacrifice of the Australians who have served in our armed forces,” Mr Tehan said.

“In towns and cities around the country and at commemorations around the world, Australians will attend services to salute the bravery, mateship and sacrifice of the men and women who have defended our freedoms and values.

“Anzac Day is a time to reflect on the thousands of Australian lives cut short by war and conflict and the terrible cost paid by families, communities and our nation.

“Today we do not glorify war but we glorify the human spirit and the Australian values that the men and women who have defended us represent.

“We also pay tribute to those members of the Australian Defence Force currently on active service overseas, including in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

“On Anzac Day we honour the thousands of female veterans whose selfless service in conflicts from the Boer War to Australia’s current deployments deserves our recognition and gratitude.

“Many of our female veterans will march in Anzac Day parades across the country wearing the medals they have earned above their left breast pocket.”

The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service provides free and confidential counselling 24/7 on 1800 011 046.

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24 April 2017

Remembering the Battle of Kapyong

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today encouraged Australians to pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice of those who fought in one of the decisive battles of the Korean War.

Fought between 23 and 25 April 1951, the Battle of Kapyong involved the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) part of the 27th British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade. Australian and other Commonwealth troops served in Korea as part of the United Nations force sent to repel the North Korean invasion of South Korea.

Mr Tehan said the Battle of Kapyong was a significant victory but Australia paid a heavy price.

“Thirty-two Australians died in the Battle of Kapyong, 59 were wounded and three were taken prisoner. For their courageous actions at Kapyong, 3RAR, the 2nd Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and the United States 72nd Heavy Tank Battalion were each awarded a United States Presidential Distinguished Unit Citation,” Mr Tehan said.

“The Korean War lasted from 25 June 1950 until 27 July 1953, when an armistice brought an end to the fighting. More than 17,000 Australians served during the combat phase of the war but Australian involvement in Korea continued into what is known as the ‘post-Armistice period’.

“In total, almost 20,000 Australians served in Korea during the war and the post-Armistice period. Three hundred and forty Australian service personnel lost their lives during the combat phase of the war and a further 16 Australians lost their lives during the post-Armistice period.

“Today we will stop, pause and reflect on the service and sacrifice of the Australians who served in Korea.”

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18 April 2017

Recognising female veterans

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan has today called for greater understanding of the service and sacrifice of Australia’s female veterans.

“Last year the Government held a forum with current and former female Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and their families where our female veterans said that many did not feel they received recognition for their service,” Mr Tehan said.

“Many of our female veterans observed that when they wore their medals in public many people assumed they were wearing the medals of their father or grandfather.

“So this Anzac Day, if you see anyone wearing medals on their left side it is because they earned those medals and please tell them ‘thank-you’ for their service.

“Australian servicewomen now comprise 16.1 per cent of the permanent full-time ADF and there are currently 266 women serving overseas on ADF operations, representing about 14 per cent of the total deployed force.

“We now have 82 women in senior officer positions – colonel equivalent and above – compared to 48 in February 2012.

“As a nation we respect and honour the service and sacrifice of every man and woman who serves in defence of our nation, our freedoms and our values.”

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14 April 2017

Modernising rehabilitation and compensation systems delivers benefits to veterans

The time taken to process certain claims for veterans has fallen dramatically thanks to the Government’s investment in updating claims processing systems, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan announced today.

Mr Tehan said the Government had provided $23.9 million in the last Budget to replace outdated rehabilitation and compensation systems and to simplify and improve internal processes.

“Claims for non-liability health care are now processed within a day, and in some cases within 30 minutes where previously the average processing times for these claims was 18 days,” Mr Tehan said.

“Veterans seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, alcohol and substance abuse are accessing treatment faster than ever before.

“This system update is ongoing and there will be further improvements to processing times and more consistency in decision making and calculations.

“The Government wants those in the ex-service community to have quick and easy access to the support services they require.”

The next system improvements will focus on incapacity claims review, rehabilitation, needs assessment and Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 permanent impairment processing.

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5 April 2017

Changes to assessing claims of sexual abuse in the ADF

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) has broadened the use of statutory declarations as evidence in compensation claims for incidence of sexual and or physical abuse.

In the absence of contradictory evidence, DVA delegates will accept a credible statutory declaration to establish the fact of abuse in claims related to incidents of physical or sexual abuse of children under 18 at the time of the abuse, when that abuse occurred before 11 April 2017.

In all claims relating to sexual and physical abuse, it is open to delegates to accept a credible statutory declaration as sufficient to establish the fact of abuse, taking into account all the particular circumstance of the case and all available evidence.

A statutory declaration is not the only means to establish the fact of abuse.

The change in guidance is in response to issues raised at the public hearings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in June 2016.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said DVA had earlier established a dedicated team to manage all new claims relating to sexual and other forms of abuse and all claims would be managed with sensitivity.

“Current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members who may be distressed by the Royal Commission are encouraged to contact the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) for immediate support,” Mr Tehan said.

“Anyone who has served full-time in the ADF can get free treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and alcohol and substance use disorders without having to prove the condition is related to service.

“This treatment is separate from any claim for compensation.”

VVCS provides immediate free and confidential counselling service for veterans and their families 24/7 on 1800 011 046.

Any survivor of sexual abuse in the ADF can lodge a claim for compensation with DVA.

To apply for compensation, call 133 254 (or 1800 555 254 for regional callers).

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  Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546)

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