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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

 

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26 September 2017

Centenary of the Battle of Polygon Wood

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan has urged Australians to pause and reflect on the sacrifice made by the Australians who served in the Battle of Polygon Wood, on its 100th anniversary today.

Australia suffered more than 5,700 casualties at Polygon Wood, out of a total of 38,000 during eight weeks of fighting, known as the Flanders Offensive, between September and October 1917 on the Western Front.

Mr Tehan will represent the Australian Government at a Dawn Service held in Belgium today attended by Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid, Princess of Belgium, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret’d) and Lady Cosgrove, and Governor of New South Wales, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d) and Mrs Hurley.

Prior to the Dawn Service, visitors will experience the Reflective Trail that stretches more than one kilometre through the forest from the edge of Polygon Wood to the entry of the Buttes New British Cemetery.

Mr Tehan said the Flanders Offensive had resulted in massive casualties on both sides and contributed to a manpower crisis in the Australian Imperial Force.

“Today we commemorate those involved in the Battle of Polygon Wood and we remember they were just some of the more than 300,000 Australian volunteers who served on the Western Front, where 45,000 lost their lives and more than one-third of those have no known grave,” Mr Tehan said.

“For Australian soldiers, the third year of the Great War was the worst they had ever experienced. More Australians 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.

 “One hundred years on, we honour the service and sacrifice of those Australians who fought and died far from home in our country’s name.”

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23 September 2017

Good luck to the Australian 2017 Invictus Games team

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Dan Tehan has wished our Australian athletes good luck as the 2017 Invictus Games kicks off today in Toronto, Canada.

Mr Tehan, who is representing the Australian Government at the Invictus Games, has urged every Australian to throw their support behind the team.

The Invictus Games are an international, adaptive sports competition for current and former military personnel who have been wounded, injured or become ill in service.

Australia has sent a team of 43 current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members to compete in the third Invictus Games in Toronto from 23-30 September.

More than 550 athletes from around 17 nations are expected to compete in sports such as swimming, cycling and wheelchair rugby.

“Through the Invictus Games the 43 current and former Defence personnel representing Australia have been given an opportunity to further their recovery, challenge themselves and inspire others,” Mr Tehan said.

“On behalf of the Australian Government, I hope every athlete competing in the games does so at the best of their ability and with the knowledge that Australians are cheering their success and applauding their bravery.”

The ADF and the Returned and Services League are supporting a combined team to compete at the games.

Australia will host the fourth Invictus Games in Sydney from 20-27 October 2018.

More information about the 2017 Australian team and images are available at:  www.defence.gov.au/events/invictusgames

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21 September 2017                                                                                                    

VETERAN PENSIONS SET TO INCREASE

Veteran pension payments have increased in line with the biannual indexation.

The increase will cover pension recipients including veterans, their partners, war widows and widowers.

Due to the calculation of pension rates on a daily basis, the first pension paid after the indexation on payday 28 September 2017 will comprise a component of both the old and new rates.

The new pension rates will be fully effective from pension payday 12 October 2017.

The table below highlights the new fortnightly rates.

 

SERVICE PENSION Old rate (fortnightly) New rate

(fortnightly)

Increase

(fortnightly)

Single person  $888.30  $894.40  $6.10
Couples (each)  $669.60  $674.20  $4.60
Single person – transitional  $748.00  $752.40  $4.40
Couples (each) – transitional  $603.40  $607.00  $3.60
WAR WIDOWS      
War widow(er)’s pension  $902.80  $909.10  $6.30
Income support supplement  $266.60  $268.50  $1.90
DISABILITY PENSION      
T&PI (Special rate)  $1,364.30  $1,373.80  $9.50
Intermediate rate  $926.20  $932.70  $6.50
EDA  $753.60  $758.90  $5.30
100 per cent  $485.00  $488.40  $3.40
10 per cent  $55.43  $55.77  $0.34

 These are the maximum rates of payment and include any Energy Supplement payable.

Pensions are indexed twice a year in March and September. For a full list of pension rates, please visit www.dva.gov.au or call 133 254 or 1800 555 254 from regional Australia.

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21 September 2017                                                                                        

Addressing the RSL National Conference

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today told the RSL National Conference in Canberra that improvements to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs would make it, “a 21st century Department with a 21st century service culture”.

Mr Tehan told the conference that the Government was committed to continuing to work with the RSL, as it sought to change. 

“In the case of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, our aim is to have a 21st century Department with a 21st century service culture,” Mr Tehan said.

“In this year’s budget the Government made the first serious investment into the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in years, with $166.6 million to upgrade its computer systems and processes.

“Claims and wait times will be cut by this investment, making DVA a 21st century Department with a 21st century service culture.

“This change at DVA will put the veteran at the centre of how the organisation operates.” 

Mr Tehan also attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the Australian War Memorial on Wednesday to honour the service and sacrifice of Australia’s veterans.

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18 September 2017

IMPROVED SERVICES FOR VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES IN CANBERRA

From today, services through the Canberra Veterans’ Access Network (VAN) office will be delivered from the Department of Human Services (DHS) Service Centre at 2–6 Bowes Street, Woden ACT.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) announced the move in July. It will provide easier access to services for the local veteran community, including the ability to access a variety of services in one central place.
Feedback regarding the co-location from both the veteran community and VAN staff has been positive.
The DVA presence is clearly identified within the DHS Service Centre. All Canberra VAN office staff have relocated to the new location and are continuing to deliver the same services to the veteran community as they did from the previous location.
The new arrangements will ensure that DVA assistance can be accessed from a modern facility, which has direct access to a large car park and is close to public transport.
DVA will continue to work with the local veteran community to ensure the services provided by the Canberra VAN office continue to meet their needs into the future.

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15 September 2017               

 Launching $6 million research centre to support veterans with PTSD  

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said a new Government-funded research centre into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder would improve the lives of veterans and their families.

Mr Tehan today launched the $6 million Centenary of Anzac Centre at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne to be operated by Phoenix Australia – Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health.

Mr Tehan said the new centre delivered a 2016 election commitment and represented one of the most significant investments into the research of military-related PTSD in Australia.

“More than 30,000 Australian veterans have an accepted service-related disability for PTSD,” Mr Tehan said.

“The Department of Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs spend more than $244 million a year providing mental health support and treatment to current and former ADF members. In last year’s budget, the Government made the treatment of PTSD free for anyone who has served one day in the full-time ADF and this has led to encouraging results.

“More veterans are seeking help for their PTSD – and getting that help. The Government’s investment in the Centenary of Anzac Centre will lead to improved treatment of mental health conditions, including PTSD.

“The Anzac Centre will undertake pioneering research and provide expert advice to practitioners nationwide who are supporting veterans with PTSD.”

Director of Phoenix Australia Professor David Forbes said: “The Centenary of Anzac Centre provides a unique opportunity to establish a strong national collaboration of researchers, clinicians, ex-service organisations and all agencies caring for veterans, to work together to find new solutions and improve care.”

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14 September 2017

Assistance dogs for veterans with PTSD

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan has announced the Government is working on a trial to evaluate the mental health benefits of assistance dogs for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Mr Tehan said the trial would enable the collection of evidence to inform future policy considerations to help the Government continue meeting the mental health needs of veterans.

“Anyone who has had a dog knows they can be loyal friends and many veterans have told me that having a dog has been incredibly beneficial for their mental health,” Mr Tehan said.

“The Government now wants to investigate whether this benefit can be supported by evidence from a trial.

“More than 30,000 Australian veterans have an accepted service-related disability for PTSD and the Government is committed to tackling the mental health challenges facing veterans and their families.

“In last year’s budget, the Government made the treatment of PTSD free for anyone who has served one day in the full-time ADF and this has led to encouraging results with more veterans seeking help for PTSD – and getting that help.”

Mr Tehan said the trial was being planned to guarantee the safety of the human and animal participants as well as the general public.

The Government recently approved a grant to study the value of service dogs for veterans with mental health conditions under the new Supporting Younger Veterans Program.

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14 September 2017

Australian Government grants commemorating
Australia’s Armistice Centenary

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan announced today the Australian Government would provide $7.5 million in grant funding for community activities commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War in 2018.

Mr Tehan said the Armistice Centenary Grants Program would provide $50,000 to every electorate in Australia for communities to mark the centenary of the Armistice in a locally significant way.

“Australia paid a heavy price for its involvement in the First World War in terms of lives lost and casualties; more than 60,000 were killed and 156,000 were wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner,” Mr Tehan said.

“The First World War had a significant impact on our country that is still felt today, not least the birth of the Anzacs and the Anzac spirit.

“The Armistice Centenary Grants Program will ensure the memory of those who gave so much in defence of our values and freedom live on.

“I encourage all Australians to contact their local Member of Parliament (MP) with proposals.”

Each MP will seek expressions of interest within their local community and applications will be assessed by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, to ensure they meet grants eligibility and assessment criteria.

MPs will be required to consult community organisations or create a Community Consultation Committee to get the community’s views on how best to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice.

Applications open on 11 November 2017 and close on 28 February 2018. More information is available at www.dva.gov.au or by calling 1800 555 254.

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Monday, 11 September 2017

70th anniversary of Australian peacekeeping: Thursday, 14 September 2017

A national commemorative service to mark the 70th Anniversary of Australian peacekeeping will be held at 10:00am on Thursday, 14 September 2017 at the new Australian Peacekeeping memorial on Anzac Parade in Canberra. A dedication ceremony for the new memorial will be included in the commemorative service.

The public event will be attended by Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan, former and current peacekeepers, and their families.

Live stream coverage of the service will be available on the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Australian War Memorial websites.

Interview and photo opportunities can be arranged with peacekeepers who are attending the national service, if requests are submitted to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs by 5pm Tuesday, 12 September 2017.

Program:

The Australian peacekeeping week program includes:

11 – 16 September – Australian War Memorial Peacekeeping Photographic display

11 September – Australian Peacemaker and Peacekeeper Veterans Association National Conference

12 September – Australian Peacemaker and Peacekeeper Veterans Association National AGM

13 September – Australian War Memorial Peacekeeping Remembrance Service (7.30am)

14 September – Dedication of the Australian Peacekeeping Memorial and Commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Australian Peacekeeping (10.00am)

14 September – Australian Peacekeeping Memorial Project – National Peacekeeping Reception (noon)

14 September – Australian War Memorial Last Post Ceremony dedicated to a Peacekeeper (5.00pm)

16 September – Police ‘Wall to Wall – Ride for Remembrance’

15 – 16 September – United Nations Association of Australia National Conference

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10 September 2017                                                                                         

World Suicide Prevention Day

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today used World Suicide Prevention Day to outline the mental health support available to current and former members of the Australian Defence Force and their families.

“Suicide affects all areas of our community – eight Australians a day take their own lives and it remains the greatest cause of death for men between the ages of 14 and 44,” Mr Tehan said.

“As we have seen, veterans and members of the ADF are sadly not immune. We are determined to address suicide in our community and everyone has a role to play.

“The Government has made the treatment of all mental health conditions free for anyone who has served at least one day in the full-time ADF. I encourage all veterans to contact DVA by email on nlhc@dva.gov.au or calling 133 254 or 1800 555 254 for regional callers.

“Current and former ADF members and their family members can access free and confidential counselling and support immediately through the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 1800 011 046 or by visiting the VVCS website.

“DVA also provides suicide awareness training through Operation Life. The Operation Life website helps people understand the warning signs of suicide and provides information and resources to help keep the reader and others safe from suicide,” Mr.Tehan said.

Information about Operation Life suicide awareness workshops is available on the VVCS website or by calling 1800 011 046.

 

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

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8 September 2017

New compensation Act for veterans

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said veterans would benefit after Parliament yesterday passed measures to simplify veterans’ legislation.

Parliament yesterday passed the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation (Defence-related Claims) Act 1988 (DRCA), which will replace for Australian Defence Force (ADF) members the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRCA). There will be no change to eligibility or the coverage of entitlements or benefits available to current and former members of the ADF.

The purpose of this change was to move all military compensation legislation under the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. Mr Tehan said the legislation gave the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs policy responsibility for all veterans’ compensation legislation.

“This new legislation will allow for more consistent for veterans’ entitlements subject to consultation with the defence and ex-service community. This will allow the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to improve the services it offers,” Mr Tehan said.

DRCA will commence 28 days after Royal Assent when all veterans and ADF members with existing claims under the SRCA will automatically become claims under the DRCA.

Mr Tehan assured the Parliament that there would be no change to coverage in this move but that the Government had put in place a safety net for any unforeseen situations.

Any new claims for injuries and illnesses due to service prior to 1 July 2004 which are lodged on or after the commencement date will now also be DRCA claims.

Further information on the DRCA, and on making a claim for rehabilitation and/or compensation due to a service related injury or illness under any of the military compensation Acts, can be found at www.dva.gov.au

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Australia

THE HON SCOTT MORRISON MP TREASURER
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

26 August 2017

First camp for children of veterans affected by mental illness
The first Kookaburra Kids Foundation camp for children of current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) families affected by mental illness will take place this weekend.
The camp will give the children the opportunity to have fun in a supportive environment while also learning about mental illness and developing coping and resilience skills.
More than 30 children from the ACT region will participate in the camp which includes a range of activities led by qualified volunteer leaders.
The Government announced funding of $2.1 million in March for the Australian Kookaburra Kids Foundation to run a two-year pilot program to help children of veterans.
The Government recognises the burden of service extends beyond veterans to their families. That is why we are committed to supporting programs such like the Kookaburra Kids Foundation camps.
Australian Kookaburra Kids Foundation CEO Pam Brown said through activities and group work, the camp program allowed children to gain a greater understanding of mental illness and to form new friendships with other children who are facing similar challenges.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to launch the Kookaburra Kids Program nationally, enabling us to support more of the ADF community,” Ms Brown said.
Anyone looking to get involved with Kookaburra Kids, or to refer a child, please visit https://kookaburrakids.org.au/.

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Thursday, 17 August 2017

Anzac Portal brings Australia’s war history to life

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Mr Dan Tehan today encouraged Australians to visit the Anzac Portal website after a recent renovation.

The Anzac Portal website at http://www.anzacportal.dva.gov.au/ aims to promote awareness of Australia’s wartime history.

Mr Tehan said the portal now contained information and educational resources spanning campaigns from the First World War to contemporary military and peacekeeping operations.

To coincide with Vietnam Veterans’ Day on Friday, 30 interviews with Vietnam veterans and family members will be published on the Anzac Portal.

“The Anzac Portal is part of the Australian Government’s ongoing commitment to honour the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have served in defence of our nation,” Mr Tehan said.

“The website is a free, dedicated resource that all Australians can use to gain a better understanding of our wartime history through an extensive range of educational resources.

“The portal has been developed by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for teachers and students, and is aligned with the Australian Curriculum.

“It is constantly being updated with personal interviews with veterans complemented by images from the Australia War Memorial’s collection and personal collections.”

Eight Departmental commemorative websites have been consolidated into the single Anzac Portal to provide a single, central location for information on Australian war history.

The Anzac Portal also contains resources for anyone planning events during the Anzac Centenary, including posters and wartime snapshots, veterans’ stories and publications relevant to various commemorations, music downloads and sample commemorative speeches. The portal is compatible with multiple devices and browsers.

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15 August 2017

Release of Senate References Committee Report into Suicide by veterans and ex-service personnel

The Government welcomes the Senate Reference Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade report into suicide by veterans and ex-service personnel.

The Government will carefully consider the inquiry report and respond shortly.

Suicide affects all areas of our community and, as we have seen, our veterans and members of the ADF are not immune.

The Government yesterday outlined some of the steps it has taken in the last 18 months to provide better mental health support to veterans and their families.

The first annual Ministerial statement on veterans and their families made clear where the Department of Veterans’ Affairs was doing good work and where it needed to improve.

The Government would like to thank the individuals and organisations who made a submission to the inquiry or gave evidence at the public hearings for their contribution to this important issue.

Their evidence helped shape this report and will add further to the Government’s understanding of how we can further serve and support veterans and their families.

The Government would also like to thank the Senators who participated in this inquiry and the Secretariat. In particular it would like to thank the work of the Chair Senator Alex Gallacher, and the Deputy Chairs Dr Chris Back and Senator Bridget McKenzie.

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15 August 2017

Victory in the Pacific Day

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today encouraged Australians to pause and reflect on the 72nd anniversary of Victory in the Pacific Day, marking the end of the Second World War.

“Victory in the Pacific Day marks Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies after more than three years of war,” Mr Tehan said.

“During the Second World War almost one million Australian men and women served, almost 40,000 Australians lost their lives, many more were wounded and more than 30,000 were taken prisoner of war—of those taken prisoner, more than 8,000 died in captivity.

“On Victory in the Pacific Day we recognise those who served our nation, honour those veterans who remain and remember those who are no longer with us.

“Today we reflect on our country’s experience of all wars, the values our service men and women fought to protect and the price they paid for doing so.

“We owe those men and women a great debt of gratitude and we will never forget.

“In the coming months the Australian Government will hold national services for the 75th anniversaries of the battles of Milne Bay, El Alamein, and Kokoda and the Beachheads.

“I encourage all Australians to attend these services, hear the stories of Australians who served, and honour the sacrifice of those who lost their lives in the Second World War.”

Last Post ceremonies for these important Second World War anniversaries will take place at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on the following dates:

  • 25 August 2017 – 75th anniversary of the Battle of Milne Bay,
  • 23 October 2017 – 75th anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein and the culmination of the North Africa campaigns,
  • 2 November 2017 – 75th anniversary of Kokoda and the Beachheads.

 

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27 July 2017

 

Korean War Veterans remembered

Today, the nation remembers those Australians who served in the Korean War, on the 64th anniversary of the 1953 Armistice agreement.

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Dan Tehan, said that of the more than 17,000 who served, 340 Australians lost their lives and more than 1,200 were wounded.

21 Nations provided military personnel, medical support or other assets to the United Nations effort in Korea, despite most still recovering from the impact of the Second World War.

“Australian soldiers, sailors, airmen and nurses made an important contribution to this international endeavour, serving both during the conflict and in the post-armistice period which continued until 1957,” Mr Tehan said.

“In Korea Australian service personnel earned international respect for their courage and endurance in battle. Today we pause to remember the service and sacrifice of our veterans and the debt of gratitude owed to them by all Australians.”

Among the many actions in which Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen were involved in Korea, two in particular, the battles of Kapyong and Maryang San, have become the focus of commemorations.

At Kapyong, 32 Australians died in fierce fighting, and the Battle of Maryang San, where 20 Australians died, was described by Official Historian, Robert O’Neill as the greatest single feat of the Australian Army in Korea.

In October last year, eight Australian veterans of the Korean War returned to Korea for the 65th anniversary commemorations of the battles of Kapyong and Maryang San.

“I had the pleasure of meeting this group of men both on that mission to the Republic of Korea and at services in Canberra last March to honour their service and sacrifice. Australia owes the men and women who served in Korea our ongoing thanks and gratitude,” Mr Tehan said.

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Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Increasing veterans’ workforce participation

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today said that more veterans could now access the Special and Intermediate Rate of Disability Pension as a result of a 2017-18 Budget initiative.

The eligibility criteria for the Special and Intermediate Rate of Disability Pension under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 has been amended to remove work history restrictions for veterans aged 65 and over.

“The amendment removes the requirement for veterans to have worked continuously for 10 years with the same employer,” Mr Tehan said.

“For self-employed veterans, it removes the requirement to have worked a minimum of 10 years in the same profession, trade, vocation or calling.

“This provides more flexibility for veterans to change employers or employment and better reflects the modern work environment.

“This Budget measure is part of a suite of initiatives being implemented to streamline access to incapacity payments, amend outdated legislation and improve rehabilitation outcomes for veterans.”

For more information on the 2017-18 Budget measures, visit the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website.

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Monday, 10 July 2017

Energy Assistance Payment for veterans and their families

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today said that 233,000 Department of Veterans’ Affairs clients last week received a one-off payment to help with rising energy costs.

Mr Tehan said that the Energy Assistance Payment (EAP) was announced in the 2017-18 Budget and is part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to supporting the men and women who defend our nation.

Veterans and dependants receiving an eligible compensation payment will receive a payment of $75.

This includes those in receipt of a Service Pension who will receive $75 for singles and $62.50 per member of a couple.

“The Government recognises that there are times when veterans require additional financial support,” Mr Tehan said.

“This Budget measure will assist veterans and their families who have been affected by increasing energy prices.”

The EAP is a non-taxable payment and does not count as income for the purposes of means testing.

The payment will also be made to eligible Centrelink customers who are Age Pensioners, Disability Support Pensioners and Parenting Payment Single Recipients.

For more information on the EAP visit the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Website.

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Saturday, 8 July 2017

Recognising the service of Indigenous Australians

As Australians celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples during NAIDOC Week, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan has today paid tribute to Indigenous ex-servicemen and women.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have a very long and proud history of serving in all sectors and units within the Australian Defence Force through the wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations that Australia has participated in from the Boer War through to present-day conflicts,” Mr Tehan said.

“Many of these men and women are the unsung heroes who pushed through adversity to enlist and serve their country. Their contribution is all the more significant when viewed against their lack of citizenship rights and early policies that discouraged and limited their enlistment.”

The Minister also acknowledged the commitment of Indigenous members post-service.

“Many of today’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ex-servicemen and women work tirelessly in the ex-service community to assist others in need. For them it’s not about skin colour, it’s about being there for their mates, because the bonds formed in service last a lifetime,” Mr Tehan said.

Mr Tehan noted that some Indigenous ex-servicemen and women may be unaware of the support available to them from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

“I encourage anyone who thinks they may be eligible to receive support from the Department to come forward.

“Visit the DVA website or phone 133 254 or freecall 1800 155 254 from regional Australia.

“We need to spread the word about the proud history of Indigenous service but also ensure they are accessing the support and services available to them.”

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6 July 2017

Supporting Younger Veterans Grants announced

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today announced nearly $240,000 in Government funding would be provided to deliver innovative and sustainable services for younger veterans.

Mr Tehan said the Supporting Younger Veterans grants recognised the unique needs of younger veterans.

“Every year thousands of young Australians leave the defence forces having served their nation with honour and distinction,” Mr Tehan said.

“We honour that service in many ways, including the support that is available from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and our work to improve employment opportunities through the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program.

“Through the Supporting Younger Veterans grants program, organisations around Australia will receive funding to develop innovative programs to meet the needs of our younger veterans.

“These programs include the creation of a motorcycle servicing facility for younger veterans, the establishment of a military style physical training program coordinated by younger veterans and a program that would encourage younger veterans into a university, and avenues to access a business accelerator program.

“The Government will also assist organisations promote partnership arrangements so there is a more national approach to services for younger veterans.”

A list of the grants is attached. All funding listed is GST exclusive.

Applications for the next round of Supporting Younger Veterans grants will be available from 1 July 2017 and will close on 1 September 2017.

For more information about the Supporting Younger Veterans program, contact the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on 133 254 or email DVA.Processing.Team@dva.gov.au.

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5 July 2017

Grants support veterans and their communities

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan announced today that veterans, their families and local communities around Australia would benefit from more than $473,000 in Government grant funding for community projects.

Mr Tehan said grant funding had been provided to 30 community projects under the Veteran and Community Grants program.

“This grant program provides money to local community organisations so they can better support our veterans and their families,” Mr Tehan said.

“Many of the projects received funding to organise social outings for veterans or upgrade and repair veteran community centres.

“These are local projects where Government money will be spent in the community to honour the service and sacrifice of the men and women who serve in defence of our nation.

“Ex-service and community organisations, veteran representative groups and private organisations are encouraged to apply for funding to support projects that promote improved independence and quality of life for veterans through the Veteran and Community Grants program.”

For more information or to apply visit the DVA website (www.dva.gov.au/consultation-and-grants/grants).

A list of grant recipients in each state is attached. All figures are GST exclusive.

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5 July 2017

Addressing the Victorian RSL State Congress

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today called on the Victorian veteran community to help spread the important message about the mental health support available to former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and expanding services for families of veterans.

Mr Tehan told the Victorian RSL State Congress in Melbourne that the Government had provided an additional $350 million in this year’s Budget to support the men and women who defend our nation.

Mr Tehan said an additional $8.5 million had been provided to expand eligibility for the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) while $33.5 million had been provided to expand non-liability health care to cover all mental health conditions.

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

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

“One of the most important measures in this year’s Budget is the expansion of non-liability health care to cover all mental health conditions.

“This means the Government will pay for the mental health treatment of anyone who has served even one day in the full-time ADF and there is no requirement to prove that the condition is related to military service. Treatment is also available for as long as it is needed.

“Today I am calling on the Victorian RSL, and the broader veteran community, to share this information with all current and former members of the ADF and their family members. Importantly, if you think you need help or someone you know needs help, please ask for it – just contact the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.”

For more information, call 133 254 (metropolitan callers) or 1800 555 254 (regional callers), email NLHC@dva.gov.au or visit www.dva.gov.au/nlhc. If anyone needs immediate help, they can phone VVCS at any time on 1800 011 046.

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1 July 2017

Safeguarding veterans’ pharmaceutical benefits

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today announced additional funding to ensure Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) clients would continue to have access to pharmaceuticals through the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS). 

“From 1 July 2017, the Australian Government will provide $663,000 in additional funding over five years for 35 pharmaceutical items,” said Mr Tehan.

“The funding will safeguard the availability of 34 items, one new listing and the addition of five generic brands.”

The generic brands treat insomnia, skin cancer, fungal mouth infections, diarrhoea and assist in preserving bone mineral density.

Microdacyn, a sterile irrigation solution that assists in the treatment of wounds and is applied as a topical wound healing agent, will be added to the RPBS.

These additions reflect new therapies becoming available, generic brands coming onto the market and pharmaceutical sponsors seeking to vary prices.

“The Australian Government is continuously exploring ways to provide more pharmaceutical options at a lower cost to veterans,” Mr Tehan said.

“Australia will always be grateful to our veterans for the service they have provided to the nation.  Ensuring access to affordable medications is one way the Government demonstrates our appreciation.”

The full list of changed items is available at: New, Amended and Deleted Items.

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30 June 2017

Response to National Mental Health Commission review

The Government is delivering improved mental health support for current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and their families.

The Government today outlined the work it is doing on mental health and suicide prevention in its response to the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) Review into the Suicide and Self Harm Prevention Services available to current and former serving ADF members and their families. The Government’s response is available here (www.dva.gov.au/nmhcreview).

The NMHC review helped inform the Government’s action on veterans’ mental health in this year’s Budget, which included an additional $58.6 million in mental health funding.

The Government will now pay for the treatment of all mental health conditions affecting anyone who has served one day in the full-time ADF. This program is fully funded and uncapped. If an eligible veteran needs treatment the Government will pay for it.

The Government will provide a further $8.5 million to expand eligibility for the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) to cover partners and children of current and former ADF members who have had one day of full-time service. Importantly, this now includes ex-partners for up to five years after separation or while co-parenting a child.

Funding of $9.8 million was also provided to pilot innovative approaches to suicide prevention and enhanced support. 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, and a pilot expansion of the Coordinated Veterans’ Care (CVC) program will target improved support for veterans with both chronic physical and mental health conditions.

Funding of $6.9 million was provided to improve access to incapacity payments to provide targeted ongoing support for veterans who are vulnerable to financial and employment insecurity due to the episodic nature of their mental health conditions.

The NMHC recognised the importance of a smooth transition from the ADF to
post-service life. Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) are working closely together to improve that process.

The first stage of the Early Engagement Model (EEM) commenced in December 2016, with the first 5,000 new and separating members registered. The aim of the EEM is that when a serving/former ADF member needs DVA in the future, they will already be registered as a client.

Improved transition services are also being rolled out to support ADF members and their families. The new support services include individual coaching and mentoring with a focus on helping ADF personnel find meaningful post-service employment.

The Government is also delivering its ‘No Discharge Without Documentation’ initiative that will ensure all separating members of the ADF leave with the necessary documents to make the transition phase more seamless.

The Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program was launched in November 2016 with the aim of helping veterans find meaningful post-service employment and assisting business recognise the unique and valuable talents of former ADF personal.

The Government agrees with the NMHC that: “continued attention is needed to ensure efforts are effective in preventing suicide and self-harm amongst Australia’s current and former serving personnel and their families”.

Part of the Government’s evolving response to mental health challenges and suicide in the current and former ADF communities is utilising data to improve our understanding of the issue and inform policy decisions.

Later this year, the Government will release the outcomes of the Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme, which is the largest study undertaken on the mental, physical and social health of current and former ADF members and their families.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) today released its second tranche of data on the incidence of suicide among current and former ADF members. Their report can be read here (http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129559898).

These figures are the first accurate, robust data ever produced on suicide among the serving, reserve and ex-serving populations.

Starting tomorrow [1 July], the AIHW and DVA will commence a three-year strategic relationship to monitor and report on the current status and future needs of veterans and their families. This work will help us to develop a more comprehensive picture of their health and welfare, and inform future policy and services.

The AIHW study is an important part of the Government’s action on improving mental health and preventing suicide among current and former ADF.

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28 June 2017

Claims Management Forum

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan said a national forum today in Canberra would investigate ways to improve the claims process for veterans.

Mr Tehan said the Claims Management Forum delivered a Coalition election promise and would help improve the service to veterans provided by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).

Representatives from the Returned & Services League of Australia (RSL), War Widows’ Guild of Australia, Defence Families Australia, Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia, TPI Federation Australia, Australian Special Air Service Association, Defence Force Welfare Association, Legacy Australia, Naval Association of Australia, Vietnam Veterans’ Federation of Australia, Royal Australian Air Force Association, Royal Australian Regiment Corporation, and the Department of Defence will attend.

“When I first became Minister for Veterans’ Affairs the veteran community told me there were problems with the claims process and the Government has made it a priority to address those,” Mr Tehan said.

“In this year’s Budget, the Government provided a significant investment of $166.6?million to begin the modernisation of DVA’s antiquated ICT systems, which will improve the claims process for veterans and provide easier access to DVA services.

“This forum keeps an election commitment and is part of an important reform program that will help DVA understand where improvements can be made by listening to the veterans who are part of the system.

“The Government wants to listen to the veteran community about how to improve the claims process to make their lives better.”

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24 June 2017

Addressing Queensland RSL State Congress

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan today called on the Queensland veteran community to help spread the important message about the mental health support available to former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel.

Mr Tehan told the Queensland RSL State Congress in Brisbane the Turnbull Government had provided an additional $350 million in this year’s Budget to support the men and women who defend our nation.

“One of the most important measures in this year’s Budget was the $33.5 million expansion of non-liability health care to cover all mental health conditions,” Mr Tehan said.

“This means the Government will pay for the mental health treatment of anyone who has served one day in the full-time ADF and there is no requirement to prove that condition was related to military service.

“If anyone has served one day in the full-time ADF and needs treatment for any mental health condition, the Government will pay for it.”

“Today I am calling on the Queensland RSL, and the broader veteran community, to get this message out to all current and former members of the ADF: if you think you need help or someone you know needs help, please ask for it – just contact DVA.”

Mr Tehan said the Government had also provided $8.5 million to expand eligibility for the Veteran and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS).

“Partners and children of our contemporary veterans—who have had at least one day of full-time service—will now have access to the services and support provided by VVCS, including counselling and group programs.

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

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21 June 2017

Vale Con Sciacca

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan has paid tribute to the late Hon Con Sciacca, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs from 1994-1996, who passed away today.

“Con Sciacca was a dearly loved husband, father, grandfather, friend, neighbour colleague and much, much more,” Mr Tehan said.

“As the tributes to Mr Sciacca flow from the many people whose lives were touched by Con, I would like to add mine in recognition of his great contribution as Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.

“As Minister, Con Sciacca was instrumental in running the Australia Remembers program, but he is better remembered by Australia’s Defence community for the genuine respect he had for our veterans and the deep interest he took in their welfare.”

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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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